How can STEM universities keep pace with a lightning-fast industry?

Today’s world changes fast; it only takes a few days for new technology to be adopted and become the norm. This accelerated timeline of innovation can make it hard to keep up—even for tech professionals.

But what does this mean for those who seek to educate the leaders of tomorrow? How can a university’s curriculum turn STEM majors into knowledgeable problem-solvers when fields change overnight, and new skills are in demand each week?

Read on to learn how some of the most advanced STEM-specific institutions keep their students’ education relevant in a world that shows no signs of slowing down.

1. Through Industry Connections

Industry leaders work with technologies that won’t reach textbooks for decades. For universities to include up-to-the-minute information in course offerings, it would require daily curriculum overhauls: an utterly unrealistic goal. Instead, many top engineering colleges invite industry experts to participate directly in education.

By creating direct connections between students and industry through capstone projects, institution-sponsored internships, and industry speakers, students gain insight into the reality of their chosen field and develop the skills they will need to be competitive in the market.

Companies have real-world problems for student teams to solve. By connecting these companies to their students, a university can provide practical real-world experience.

At Oregon State University’s College of Engineering, students worked with a local company named “Puralytics” to design a large-scale water filtration system. In 24 hours, using just the sun’s UV rays, their final product can make 1,000 gallons of water safe for cooking, bathing and drinking. This student-to-industry collaboration is a win-win: students gain cutting-edge, real-world experience, while companies gain a devoted team of young minds to work on business problems.

(Next page: 2 more ways STEM universities stay relevant)


Latest higher ed innovation aims to enhance adult learning programs

To further its vision of providing meaningful learning, credentials and work for every adult, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has launched a new way for colleges and universities to measure and improve their support of its adult students: Adult Learner 360™.

Adult Learner 360™ is a tool that compares colleges and universities’ effectiveness against adult students’ perceptions. The tool, informed by CAEL’s decades of experience assisting colleges and universities in meeting the needs of adult learners, is based upon two surveys: one that captures the importance and effectiveness of the institution’s activities, policies and practices, and one that measures satisfaction of adult students.

Upon analysis of the survey results, the college or university will receive a report that highlights their strengths, areas for improvement and changes that can lead to better support for adult students. The report also compares results with other two- and four-year institutions.

In addition, a CAEL expert discusses recommended changes with the institution, incorporating the institution’s external drivers and current strategic initiatives.

“Research shows that the population of adult learners in our country is growing, and that population needs support, unique to that offered to younger students, to reach academic and career goals,” said CAEL president and CEO Pamela Tate. “Adult Learner 360™ builds upon our long-held belief that colleges and universities can benefit tremendously when they have the right insight into its adult student population.”
According to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, only 29 percent of today’s 18 million undergraduates are traditional learners – those who attend college full-time right out of high school. In addition, between 2000 and 2011, the percentage of students age 25 and older enrolled in college rose more than 41 percent; today, more than one-third of college students are over the age of 25.

Results from an Adult Learner 360™ survey are measured against CAEL’s Ten Principles for Effectively Serving Adult Learners, which include Life and Career Planning, Outreach, Assessment of Learning Outcomes, Strategic Partnerships and Adaptivity, the Principle that measures how effectively an institution adapts to shifting external market forces and to changing expectations of internal stakeholders, students and employers. These Principles are born from CAEL’s extensive experience as a leading advocate for adult learners, said Tate.

“Since its founding in 1974, CAEL has strived to develop solutions for adult learners that are backed by both rigorous research and an appreciation for the barriers they often must overcome,” said Tate. “Adult Learner 360™ acts as a catalyst for success and gives us the opportunity to share that wealth of knowledge with the very colleges and universities that serve them.”

To learn more about Adult Learner 360™, including details on pricing and timing for implementation, visit

Material from a press release was used in this report.



The 5 boldest university models in 2017

Bold thinking and bold action from higher-ed trustees and academic leaders are essential if the next generation of students is to have access to high-quality and affordable education, according to a new report.

With a little creativity and engagement, though, trustees and campus administrators can implement policies and strategies that improve campus efficiency, accountability, educational quality, and completion rates.

Bold Leadership, Real Reform 2.0: Improving Efficiency, Cutting Costs, and Expanding College Opportunity, revisits schools profiled in an earlier report and provides updates on the schools’ initiatives and efforts to improve institutional quality and lower costs.

The earlier report urges higher-ed trustees to look at innovative university and system-wide models, such as shared course initiatives and online consortia, curricular consolidation, and the use of institutional analytics to identify bottlenecks and improve operations.

The authors note that the programs described in the profiles can serve as models for those who wish to achieve similar successes on their own campuses.

“This guide is a playbook for trustees looking to leapfrog the conventional wisdom about higher education finance,” said Armand Alacbay, ACTA’s vice president of trustee and legislative affairs. “Higher education’s traditional business model is increasingly unsustainable, so the need for engaged trusteeship is at an all-time high. Boards can play a significant role in improving institutional strategy and efficiency without compromising academic quality or raising tuition.”

Along with 5 system-wide profiles and campus case studies, the report also highlights various partnerships and initiatives launched in order to improve universities’ operations and performance.

(Next page: Innovative university models)


New analytics will reveal online cheating patterns

Examity®, a provider of online proctoring and identity verification, announced the launch of examiDATA®, a platform designed to aggregate and analyze information on test performance and academic integrity.

Drawing on information from hundreds of thousands of students at colleges and universities nationwide, examiDATA leverages sophisticated analytics to provide colleges and universities with actionable insights on the test-taking patterns of their students.

In the past decade, the number of students taking college courses online has increased dramatically, reaching nearly 6 million as of 2014. This rapid expansion has led to increased demand for solutions that can ensure the quality and integrity of online programs in higher education.

To help colleges measure their rate of test-taking violations and benchmark against peer institutions, examiDATA breaks out cheating information by key categories including tuition level, type of school, and department of study.

“The explosion of online education has allowed us to make huge strides in supporting a growing population of nontraditional students,” said Dr. Lauren Cifuentes, director of Distance Education and Learning Technologies at Texas A&M. “However, data-driven approaches that shed light on macro trends in online test security remain nascent. The insights surfaced by examiDATA will play a critical role in validating the work of our team and students relative to other institutions.”

An initial pilot of the examiDATA platform, conducted with 325,000 test-takers in the 2015-16 school year, found significant fluctuations in cheating semester-over-semester. While the percentage of students with violations fell from 6.62 percent to 5.49 percent from fall to spring, cheating rates grew to a new high in summer 2016, reaching 6.65 percent.

“From time of year to type of institution, test violations fluctuate in ways that are critical to understand in order to ensure the continued success of online learning – but often remain invisible without the support of predictive analytics,” said Michael London, president and CEO of Examity. “Armed with insights into student performance trends, colleges and universities can use examiDATA to address specific pain points and further improve the security of their online assessments.”

Examity works with a diverse group of leading public and private institutions, including Boston University, Pennsylvania State University, and Yale University, to provide real-time, round-the-clock proctoring services that can be customized to meet the needs of individual institutions and programs.

Examity recently released a mobile platform, examiGO, designed to streamline the authentication process for students and faculty by brining leading-edge mobile technology to bear on ID verification.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


20 essential apps to include in online courses

Technology and its potential to simplify life for its users can be a beautiful thing, which can be seen in the example of providing online learning for students. But, unless you have the right technology to streamline tasks and aid in learning, going online for education can also be a nightmare.

From attending class to talking with peers and professors, and from going to the local bookstore to having everything on a laptop in a dorm room, students on campus typically have a more “organic” learning experience than an online student who may not know how to best access these features of a higher education in an entirely mobile setting.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average online student often takes online courses due to an already hectic life. Luckily, “there is no shortage of mobile apps that can help online students stay productive.”

Unfortunately, app lists can often seem a bit jumbled with no clear explanation of why the apps are important or for what purpose they ultimately serve. In this eCampus News curated list, we aim to categorize these aggregated apps into the meaningful requirements expected of most online learning students.

We also urge online learning providers, faculty, and administration to not only organize their online aids and resources for their students, but perhaps use some of the over 20 apps listed below.

Know of any great online learning apps to help students, faculty or admin? Did we miss any for online students? Let us know in the comment section below!

(Next page: Online learning apps for getting started; accessing courses and files)


How universities can use big data to land grads careers

Over the past few weeks, graduation ceremonies have been taking place all over the world. This is an exciting time for everyone in higher education, as institutions and communities recognize their students’ academic achievements.

While every guest speaker will laud these graduates’ academic accomplishments, many will also speak of the world that’s waiting for them once they step off of that stage, all with an air of hope and positivity—and also some uncertainty.

Have faculty, administrators and advisors actually prepared these students for the “real world” and aligned programs, degrees and training with the job market? Without diminishing the quality of the academic program, have students made the right choices to fulfill their ambitions and aspirations and begin their contributions to society?

For decades, institutions have made it their missions to improve not just academic outcomes for their students but also career outcomes. Career fairs, services and internships have been a staple of the student experience for decades.

But the reality is that most employers still find graduates lacking essential skills and academic programs lagging behind current needs in a rapidly evolving marketplace. Often, educators find themselves out of sync with the job market.

Enter Big Data 

With the amount of real-time data that’s available on the economy and job market online, institutions can now leverage this data to better align programs with workforce needs—and to change or fine-tune academic programs in response to the market.

(Next page: How colleges and universities can use big data to help grads land careers)


This university’s interactive lab is revolutionizing research

Our mission at the Health Sciences Library at the University of Washington is to advance the healthcare fields through scholarship, research, education and access to health information resources. We support not just university faculty, health researchers and students, but also a variety of other professionals and researchers in the Puget Sound and state of Washington.

With that in mind, when the university library decided to add a new space on campus to enhance research data analysis and allow multidisciplinary collaboration, we didn’t want just another conference room; we wanted to give researchers something they couldn’t get elsewhere on campus.

To create and fund a space on campus that would accelerate health research and innovation by supporting researchers and investigators in our community, our library formed a partnership with the Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS), the University of Washington Medicine Research Information Technology, and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine-Pacific Northwest Region in the summer of 2015.

The main goal was to streamline health sciences translational researchers’ and faculty investigative experiences. Before, the investigative experience of a faculty member at the University of Washington required that they visit multiple websites and contact multiple departments, including our library, to obtain support for new translational health research.

ITHS and our library were used to handling routine interactions, by employing our separate areas of expertise, but in the digital age, researchers’ needs have changed–and nowhere on campus was there a publicly available way to view joint or multifaceted projects with multiple collaborators.

Designing a New Lab

The university campus is large, with 16 libraries, and researchers are located on both the north and south sides, so the space had to be centrally located as well as adjacent to the hospital and labs. The Health Sciences Library was a good fit in this sense, and our footprint is larger than some of the other departments on campus, so our health sciences library was chosen as a location.

To design the Translational Research and Information Lab (TRAIL), we selected a staff office area to retrofit. We engaged CompView, an AV integrator based out of Seattle, to help us decide what technologies to incorporate into the lab.

ITHS specifically requested using digital signage to support the researchers, so we considered projectors or a single large display; but with a goal of multidisciplinary collaboration, we wanted something that would support multiple sources of video and data.

In the end, the partnership decided to install a 2×3 video wall comprising 55-inch NEC X555UNV displays, which would help health sciences clinical researchers analyze and visualize data, and give them the ability to send six different sources from various devices to any or all of the displays.

(Next page:  University of Washington’s TRAIL success; meeting changing needs)


University IT: How to get the most out of your move to the cloud

The cloud’s raison d’être, regardless of the deployment model used, is its ability to deliver overall agility, deployment flexibility, and elasticity. Cloud priorities today include moving more workloads to the cloud, optimizing existing cloud utilization, leveraging innovation, and enabling multi-cloud deployments.

Why Universities are Cloud Unique

As universities deploy cloud infrastructures, they embrace efficiency techniques that have been developed and used by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to control their public cloud data center costs. They deploy efficiency models that increase data density and reduce footprint requirements, while dropping operating costs for power and cooling.

As these extremely efficient models are deployed, legacy purpose-built hardware is being replaced with software-defined data centers running on industry-standard servers

Software-defined data centers usher in new opportunities to maximize efficiency in software. One such feature, which is particularly effective and critical in cloud environments, is inline data reduction which includes deduplication and compression.

In addition to the platforms and software efficiency of cloud, data reduction delivers a substantial impact on your university and your budget by reducing the amount of data stored. Data reduction shrinks the amount of storage consumed, increases data density further, and lowers the costs of data at rest and in flight over your networks.

No matter which cloud deployment you use, data reduction delivers economic benefits that make the cloud business case more compelling.

(Next page: University data reduction in a public, private and hybrid cloud environment)


Faculty: 6 social assignments for online students

Online students, like any other students, like to spend time procrastinating before they get to completing assignments given in class. Many teachers struggle to come up with tasks and projects that really engage and motivate students to skip procrastination and get working.

Faculty: if you find yourself at a roadblock when it comes to designing engaging projects, here are a few easily customizable online assignment ideas that will keep your students interested and motivated. These assignments can also be applied to many different subjects, as they aim to test a variety of skills and abilities at once.

Let’s begin:

1. The Photo Online Assignment

If you need students to develop critical thinking and creative skills, use the “picture assignment.” Create a project and ask students to take a random photo and describe the scene with references to some theories and models used in the class. This way, you allow them to not only engage their creativity, but reveal personal interests; this helps to make the connection between what they personally care about with their classwork.

2. The Interview Online Assignment

Like the example above of the picture assignment, this online assignment refers to the interests of students if the teacher allows them to select the person they want to have a conversation with, such as a local politician, singer, activist, or even a friend or a neighbor. Make sure the interviews discuss specific topics related to the subject and then use the information obtained by the students to illustrate some concepts or theories studied in the class. Find some interview conducting tips in this article from Study Guides and Strategies.

3. The Observation Online Assignment

This assignment encourages online students to leave their homes and engage in first-hand learning from professionals. For example, if you are teaching a nursing class, arrange an opportunity to visit a local health care institution and observe how nurses and other professionals perform their tasks by observing. Also, the professionals could be asked for some tips and professional advice when possible to make the observation even more engaging for the students. As a result, students will be thankful for the opportunity to take learning outside the online classroom.

(Next page: 3 more customizable online assignments)