Creating successful teachers with video coaching

Teaching elementary math—especially explaining the conceptual basis of algorithms and procedures— can be particularly challenging for novice teachers. Therefore, teacher-preparation programs need to provide robust support to help education preservice teachers (EPTs) acquire this specialized content knowledge and teach a high-quality math curriculum.

At the University of Indianapolis, technology-driven initiatives have helped our elementary EPTs master these instructional skills while engaging them in reflective professional learning. In particular, video coaching has been instrumental to our EPTs’ growth.

Implementing video coaching
Nearly four years ago, our junior-level EPTs were struggling to create rich mathematical tasks during their student teaching at a local highly diverse, high-needs elementary school. EPTs were challenged with transforming their lessons from procedures and worksheets to more authentic, child-centered, and culturally-appropriate tasks.

Given the number of EPTs in our program, faculty had to limit their lesson observations and frequency. Consequently, faculty could only provide limited instructional feedback, which primarily consisted of brief written comments and rubric scores.

This lack of feedback was frustrating for the faculty and caused dissatisfaction with EPTs. There was also concern by teachers at the elementary school that their students were not having an optimal learning experience due to the lessons lacking rigor, relevancy, and student engagement. It became apparent to us that a change was necessary.

(Next page: How we used video to improve preservice instruction)

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How digital courseware can ease students’ financial worries

More than 20 million students are currently enrolled in a 4-year degree program, and 7 in 10 students will graduate with not just a degree, but with student loan debt, too.

Digital tools can bring about new and positive change when it comes to higher-ed affordability, said Michael Hansen, chief executive officer of Cengage Learning, in a recent post.

When 38 percent of students say they earned a poor grade and 20 percent say they failed a course, all due to inability to afford the course materials, the focus should turn to education access and how funding restricts that access for many students, Hansen wrote.

(Next page: An infographic explains how digital courseware can help students)

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How to choose a campus-wide CRM

Today’s students are on a journey. To them, it’s about more than a degree; it’s about a holistic experience that is as tailored to them as their Netflix account and prepares them for the new realities of the ever-changing, automated workplace.

Now, more than ever, the student is in control. They’re looking for a learning experience upon which they can build their lifelong journey, and a community of support to help them chart their path into the future.

Data silos: A common challenge in higher ed

Students expect a personalized experience. At many schools, however, different departments have different constituent relationship management systems (CRMs) based on units or schools. That leads to disjointed outcomes and costs. And, the longer your silos exist, the more difficult it will be to consolidate the data from those siloed CRMs into one solution that can provide a full view across the lifetime of your constituents—not just while they’re students.

At Indiana University (IU), we used to have this issue. If you’re like we were, you may be dealing with a bunch of siloed CRMs. We decided to change from treating a CRM as a small unit-based system to an enterprise system, similar to human resources (HR) or finance. This enables strategic outcomes and a more efficient cost model.

From a purely student perspective, IU’s various units and schools each had separate interactions and information. Students essentially had to start by repeating details that have already been logged, just by someone else, somewhere else.

Where we were: The cost of the status quo

With our previous data silos, we lost opportunities to provide personalized communications. For recruitment, this was not preferable, nor did it use our staff time well. The old, disjointed, inefficient model undermined our focus on providing excellent student services and support.

At IU, many units and/or schools had already selected Salesforce.org for their solution. While that led to 16 separate instances across the university, it confirmed that Salesforce.org was the right platform to scale across the breadth and diversity of our constituencies, which included:

  • Undergraduate recruitment/admissions, tracking approximately 430,000 current and historic prospects
  • Communication/marketing with marketing cloud
  • HR case management
  • Graduate school recruiting & admissions

(Next page: 7 tips for choosing your college’s CRM tool)

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8 key components of cybersecurity education

A newly-released set of cybersecurity curriculum recommendations aims to improve postsecondary cybersecurity education and produce graduates ready to fill alarming workforce gaps.

The new set of guidelines, Cybersecurity Education Curriculum (CSEC2017), is necessary to keep pace with the world’s growing dependence on cyber infrastructure, which spans everything from financial services and utilities to government systems and citizens’ personal information.

The recommendations are the product of a two-year joint task force led by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS). The ACM identifies five primary computing disciplines as part of cybersecurity: computer engineering, computer science, information systems, information technology, and software engineering.

Government and non-government sources estimate that 1.8 million cybersecurity-related positions worldwide will go unfilled by the year 2022, prompting academic departments to launch initiatives that establish new cybersecurity degree programs or add cybersecurity education onto existing degree programs.

But part of the problem, academic experts say, is the field’s fledgling nature. Because it is a new and growing discipline, it offers great potential for those interested in holding cybersecurity jobs–but institutions’ approaches to cybersecurity education, and their very definition of the field, can vary widely.

(Next page: 8 cybersecurity education recommendations)

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3 reasons to automate your workflow

Technology has changed the education landscape. Whether you’re creating the infrastructure of your internal email server, supporting online coursework, or managing the hardware used by your faculty, staff and students, IT’s role in higher education is invaluable. IT has never been more of an asset to their institutions, but at the same time, it can feel like there aren’t enough resources to support them.

In the CoSN K-12 IT Leadership Report, sponsored by Dude Solutions, only 13 percent of IT leaders felt that their staffing matched their needs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 52 percent also said that they spend most of their time on reactive work, e.g., those last-minute fires that need to be put out. Despite the need for more resources, only 25 percent of respondents reported that they had an increase in their yearly budget.

The result: IT is understaffed and overwhelmed.

However, there is a way to keep track of all the moving parts and take back time in your day: automation. By automating tasks that would otherwise require manual input, you can reclaim those lost hours with customizable alerts, enhanced communication, and seamless workflows.

How to automate workflow

1. Customizable alerts
When a problem occurs, your team needs to know about it immediately. Whereas some solutions may require technicians to log into their dashboard to view their new tasks, customizable alerts ensure real-time notification. You’ll prevent tickets from falling through the cracks with a reliable, consistent request-delivery workflow. With these alerts, you can guarantee first-class support to your end users in a fraction of the time to support your SLAs.

(Next page: Improve communication and automate workflow)

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5 questions to ask before your university goes mobile

Before they set foot in their first class, incoming college students face a maze of requirements and resources that will be critical to their success. So-called “student supports” abound. Yet forty percent of first-year students don’t return the following year, and a growing number report information overload as they navigate campus life amid newfound independence.

Perhaps with good reason. Today’s students are “over” email—and university websites just aren’t intuitive to the touchscreen generation. The nine in 10 undergraduates who own smartphones are probably familiar with the xkcd about it. College-aged Americans check their devices more than 150 times per day. So it should be no surprise that a growing body of research suggests that mobile solutions can play a critical role in enhancing the student experience.

But with an explosion of campus apps for academics, extracurriculars, and events, going mobile can create an even more fragmented online experience. The risk of “app fatigue” looms large for student affairs professionals.

Here are five questions institutional leaders should ask—and answer—when evaluating the potential for mobile solutions.

1. Is the mobile app native?
We’ve all had the frustrating experience of using a smartphone to navigate a page that was designed for a computer. But when designing native mobile apps, developers start with the small screen, which leads to simpler, cleaner platforms that get rid of the clutter of the desktop browsing experience.

(Next page: Ask these questions before you go mobile)

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3 predictors of students’ workforce confidence

Just roughly half (53 percent) of students believe their major will lead to a good job, according to a nationally-representative survey of 32,000 students at four-year universities.

Only one-third of students said they think they will graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the job market (34 percent) and in the workplace (36 percent), according to the Strada-Gallup 2017 College Student Survey.

The report points to a skills gap between higher ed and industry; 96 percent of chief academic officers said they believe their institution is very or somewhat effective at preparing students for the workforce, but just 11 percent of business leaders strongly agreed.

Seven major findings emerged from the research.

1. Student confidence in their workforce preparation differs across majors. STEM majors expressed the most confidence that their chosen
field of study will lead to a good job.

2. Nontraditional students feel more prepared than traditional students.

3. Students receiving career-specific support feel most confident about their workforce preparation.

4. Nearly four in 10 students have never visited their school’s career services office or used online career resources, including more than one-third of seniors. Though juniors and seniors are more likely than first- and second-year students to have used their career services office, still, 35 percent of seniors say they have never used this resource.

5. Career services resources are particularly helpful for underrepresented and underserved student populations.

6. Students receive helpful advice about courses and programs from academic advisers, but less so about careers and postgraduate options. Among current college students, 46 percent said their academic advisers provide very helpful guidance about which courses to take and 39 percent said academic advisers offer very helpful advice about choosing a major/minor. About three in 10 students said academic advisers are very helpful in identifying career options (28 percent) or graduate degree programs (30 percent).

7. Advising is most helpful to underrepresented and underserved student populations. Black and Hispanic students, as well as first-generation college students and nontraditional students, rate the help they receive from academic advisers more highly than do their counterparts.

The survey also uncovered three commonalities among students who have significantly more confidence in their workforce preparation:

1. Students speak often with faculty or staff about their career options.
2. Students have at least one university official initiative a conversation with them about their career options.
3. Students believe their school is committed to helping students find a rewarding career.

Students often don’t use the resources that are the most helpful, according to the report.

“This report demonstrates that university professors, staff members and institutions can provide career-specific support that exhibits a strong relationship with students’ confidence in their preparation for life after college,” the authors wrote. “Moreover, students seek a variety of resources from their school’s career services office, though some of the most-valued services are often the least used. Many students also find the guidance they receive from academic advisers about choosing courses and majors to be beneficial, but receive less help from advisers relating those academic decisions to potential career options.”

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Personalized text messages help students stay on STEM path

Students at four U.S. community colleges are sticking with sometimes-demanding STEM courses with a little encouragement from personalized text messages that encourage them to complete classes.

The joint initiative from Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Persistence Plus sends students personalized text messages that “nudge” students to focus on college completion and STEM success.

This past summer, a randomized trial with close to 2,000 students showed that the STEM students who received the nudges returned for the 2017 fall semester at a rate 10 percentage points higher than a control group of students who did not receive nudges.

(Next page: How do the personalized text messages help students succeed?)

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5 tips to empower users with data visualization

Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio has been a leader in the use of data and analytics for years, thanks to the efforts of Karl Konsdorf, Sinclair’s director of research, analytics, and reporting. Konsdorf leads a team responsible for database administration, institutional research, report development, and data quality. His group helps Sinclair understand and gain insight into student success and student outcomes.

Recently, Konsdorf deployed a new data-visualization strategy that allows users to conduct interactive reporting, visual data discovery, and self-service analytics. Enrollment managers, department heads, deans, and advisers can interact with reports, collaborate on insights, and slice and dice data to make proactive decisions about enrollment, retention, performance, and degree completion. For example, what is enrollment this year compared with the same time last year?

Based on his data-visualization success, Konsdorf offers the following five tips for colleges and universities hoping to increase self-service access to reports so that decision-makers can quickly get the answers they need.

1. Secure buy-in at all levels of management. Data and analytics programs need to have executive sponsorship at the highest level—someone who fully understands the value the initiative can bring to the institution and has a vision for using it to improve school, program, and student outcomes.

(Next page: More ways to ensure your staff will do data analysis)

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Top 5 cyber threats and how to protect your university

Higher-ed IT security professionals have their hands full contending with the various cyber threats coming their way, such as hackers using malware to compromise and take over crucial systems. With the vast amounts of private data that they gather, store, and analyze, higher ed institutions are a prime target for these kinds of attacks. Here are the top 5 cyber threats now jeopardizing higher education and what steps you can take to protect your university today.

1. Unsecured Wi-fi
Students and faculty will connect to the internet via Wi-fi, sometimes without caring whether their connection is protected. This is particularly an issue when members of the public have access to the network, which is common in higher-education environments.

As unwitting users provide their login credentials, criminals eavesdropping on these unsecured Wi-fi networks capture their passwords, which can then be used to take over their device.

If users rely on the same password for different accounts, criminals have even more access points to illegally log in. A report from Educause recommends that employees and students should receive proper training in avoiding dubious Wi-fi connections. They should also have access to two-factor identification as well as virtual private networks to protect their credentials from intruders.

(Next page: More cyber dangers and how to handle them)

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