Most Popular of 2015, No. 2: 20 should-know technology tidbits from EDUCAUSE

A quick-hitting guide to technologies, solutions and business talk from the 2015 EDUCAUSE exhibitor hall.

educause-conference-technology[Editor’s note: Based off of Google Analytics, this story was our second most popular article. It was originally published on Nov. 3, 2015.]

Enabling personalized learning, ensuring mobile capacity and security, and partnering with industry leaders to provide game-changing solutions dominated the exhibit hall at this year’s EDUCAUSE 2015. Come take a look at what innovative technology companies have in store for today’s fast-paced higher education institution:

(Listed in alphabetical order of company mentioned)

1.An Author Tool for Online learning

Acrobatiq, an adaptive learning-focused company, announced the launch of its Smart Author™ Adaptive Learning Platform—the first in a new generation of enterprise-level course authoring and data analytics solutions for higher education institutions to develop and deliver online courses and programs. The company said Smart Author has web-based tools to develop outcomes models; content and assessment tied to outcomes; adaptive course delivery; and analytics showing who is learning and who is not, which content works and which content does not, and where to focus time in making improvements. Institutions can use Smart Author to extend educational access online through mobile-ready seat or competency-based programs; to facilitate blended instruction; and to improve learning outcomes in “red flag” or traditionally high failure courses by developing “smart” courseware that personalizes student learning. Acrobatiq Smart Author is a cloud-based software-as-a-service solution, purchased as an annual subscription and supported by professional services to ensure successful and sustainable implementation. For more information on Acrobatiq’s solutions for higher education, or to request a meeting, please visit here.

2.A Simpler Way to Access Cloud Security

Akamai Technologies, Inc., a content delivery network (CDN) services, revealed its intent to join the Internet2 NET+ initiative in order to improve the ability of colleges and universities to respond to threat of DDoS and other cyber attacks. Akamai’s Cloud Security Solutions, a suite of security solutions including DDoS mitigation, threat analysis, and dedicated site defense, has entered the NET+ Evaluation stage. NET+ streamlines the process and helps make it more affordable for colleges and universities to purchase cloud-based technology solutions. Akamai was at EDUCAUSE to discuss how it can help higher education institutions protect their online assets from DDoS and other web application threats. “Cybersecurity is an issue that is top of mind for colleges and universities, as they seek to protect data and information from students, researchers, and faculty,” said Shel Waggener, Internet2, senior vice president. “The NET+ initiative leverages the R&E community to vet services and share insights on solutions and applications that have been beneficial for others, and we are pleased that the Internet2 community can now access Akamai’s industry perspectives, experience, and technology.”

3.Meeting Mobile Campus Demands

ALE, operating under the brand Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, is continuing to invest in delivering wireless LAN solutions with its new 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Point. As the world’s reliance and use of mobile devices continues to grow, enterprises as diverse as higher education are faced with the challenge of having the appropriate network capacity to support the increase of users’ and traffic. The new Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess 320 wireless 802.11AC Wave 2 Access Point provides the benefits of Wave 2 WLAN technology including:

  • Dynamic multi-user multiple input/multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology, providing increased network capacity and boosting network efficiency,
  • Increased Wi-Fi performance by delivering at least a third more throughput,
  • Providing better long-term investment protection over 802.11ac Wave1 or 802.11n technology.

The new OmniAccess 320 Access Point aims to enable the growing number of mobile devices to share Wi-Fi bandwidth and relieves wireless performance issues in the network. The new access point is the latest product in the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Unified Access technology roadmap to deliver solutions for the mobile campus that increase network capacity, boost network performance and provide a consistent customer experience for wired and wireless devices.

4.Virtual Collaboration to Learners with Disabilities

Blackboard Inc. discussed two accessibility milestones for the latest version of its online virtual collaboration tool Blackboard Collaborate™. According to SSB Bart Group, Blackboard’s accessibility partner, Blackboard’s browser-based web conferencing tool supports the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 at Level AA, which includes features like live captions, 4.5:1 contrast, consistent navigation, and more. SSB Bart Group also gave the technology approval for meeting Section 508 standards in the U.S., which apply standards to electronic and information technology used by federal agencies. One example of an organization currently using these accessibility features is at the University of Montana, where the school’s Accessibility Interest Group uses the new Ultra experience of Blackboard Collaborate to conduct their regular webinars. “It’s extremely important to us that we use tools and technologies that share the same values and standards that we’re working hard to achieve through our Accessibility Interest Group,” said Marlene Zentz, Senior Instructional Designer and Accessibility Specialist at the University of Montana. “The new Blackboard Collaborate is not only the tool we use to allow our campus leaders to keep working toward making teaching and learning an inclusive process on our campus, but the tool that our disabled students themselves can use to collaborate and learn at their highest potential.” Read more about Blackboard’s commitment to accessibility or get involved in the company’s ongoing accessibility work, by joining the Accessibility Community.

5.Cloud Content + LMS = Personalized Learning
A platform of educational resources powered by cloud technology, Boundless announced an alliance partnership with the Canvas learning management system (LMS) from Instructure. The integration will give Canvas users access to the Boundless library of more than 10,000 pieces of digital content in over 20 subjects, fully vetted and customizable with Boundless’ content-creation services, study materials and assessment items.  Boundless is currently available to all Canvas users through the EduAppCenter. Access to Boundless is free for instructors and allows educators to create content and harness real-time data analytics to personalize education and improve student outcomes. For students, Boundless provides content at $29.99 per student, per class. Content is modular, openly licensed and tagged with assessment items to support mapping content to learning outcomes. All content contributions to Boundless are reviewed by a team of experts, and courseware can be accessed on computer, tablet or on its e-reading application, available on any mobile device. To learn more, visit here.

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