Students expect their data to be put to good use

Data use and personalized communications are a deal maker (or breaker) in campus recruitment and future giving.

Students are increasingly using their expectations of and actual experiences with data and personalized communications to dictate their enrollment and future giving, according to a new survey from software and services provider Ellucian.

The annual survey, released at EDUCAUSE 2018, shows that personalized communications weigh heavily in students’ decisions about which institution to attend.

In fact, 87 percent of students who received personalized communications during their application process say it was an important factor in their choice of school. Forty-eight percent of students who applied to multiple colleges used poor communication as one reason not to attend a particular institution.


Beyond disruption: The future of higher education

Universities are in the middle of a transformation that is challenging the status quo and is forcing higher-ed leaders to embrace change if they wish to remain relevant.

Four broad drivers are behind this disruption, said James Phelps, director of enterprise architecture and strategy at the University of Washington and winner of the 2018 EDUCAUSE Community Leadership Award, during EDUCAUSE 2018.

Shifting skills, the digital transformation, employment and income challenges, and the higher-ed financial crisis have brought higher education to a critical space in between disruption and transformation, Phelps said.

Those four topics create a landscape that can give higher-ed leaders a better idea of how higher education is changing and what institutions might look like post-disruption.

Driver 1: Shifting skills

“We have changing relationships on campus and we have to help our staff navigate these changes,” Phelps said. “We have great people, but they need new and different skills now,” he added, citing Gartner research predicting that in 10 years, the IT skills today’s workers will need will be completely different from the skills they possess today.

1. Create a strategic investment fund for reskilling the workforce
2. Build a strategic workforce development center focusing on continuous development and alignment
3. Create a continuous learning and improvement culture among all staff
4. Actively manage human resource debt



Are you familiar with BlogHighEd? It’s a higher ed blogger network that aggregates higher-ed blogs in all different areas, including marketing, counseling, and consulting.

The site is run by Brad J Ward, chief executive officer of Blue Fuego, and Matt Herzberger, director of web communications for Florida International University. Their ongoing goal is to support and promote blogs that bring value to higher ed.

Recent posts range from improving the way you recruit prospective students to making conflict more productive to diversity on higher ed websites. Lots of good stuff here!

[Editor’s Note: eCampus News will be featuring a higher ed blog every Monday. Send your favorites to]


“Research in Action” Podcast

Perhaps not too surprisingly, “Research in Action” is a podcast about research in higher education. It’s hosted by Dr. Katie Linder, research director for Oregon State University Ecampus, and the more than 130 weekly episodes often include guest interviews from other colleges and industry who share their research expertise, experience, and strategies.

Linder says the goal of the podcast is to increase research literacy and build community among researchers, and recent topics have included taking risks for research, current trends and challenges for academic libraries, and emotions and teaching.

You can access the podcast at the website or on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

[Editor’s Note: eCampus News will be featuring a higher ed podcast every Friday. Send your favorites to]



Here’s how mixed reality is already changing teaching and learning

Mixed reality is poised to have an incredible impact on instruction and preparing students for the workforce.

At EDUCAUSE 2018, educators from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) shared how the university is developing and implementing small- and large-scale immersive augmented reality and mixed reality learning resources with great success.

The projects stem from the university’s Interactive Commons, which explores how cross-departmental teamwork and new technologies can foster innovation and new ways of teaching and learning. So far, they have yielded a fair amount of data, along with increases in student engagement, time savings, and more positive learning experiences overall.

“The workforce is collaborative, and we need to communicate across disciplines–curriculum has to drive those interactions,” said Erin Henninger, executive director of the Interactive Commons at CWRU. “We want to think about what kind of classroom we’re putting our students in in the future–the classrooms we’ve been creating for 100 years may be doing those students a disservice.”

CWRU is already using Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headsets with students, and will deploy 32 HoloLens devices in its new Health Education campus, slated to open in July 2019. They can be used in any number of ways, such as to help medical students explore human anatomy together in a mixed reality environment. 


AI can humanize teaching—if we let it

While the scientific nature of artificial intelligence (AI) has frequently been used as a marketing term in recent years, AI does have some fascinating implications for instruction.

But perhaps one of the biggest things to remember about AI is that it will not eliminate teaching—it will humanize it.

“We hear that AI will take away faculty—AI is, in fact, going to supplement the work we already do,” said Jennifer Sparrow, senior director of teaching and learning with technology at Penn State. In that role, she focuses on innovation and technology-enhanced teaching and learning.

During EDUCAUSE, Sparrow, along with Kyle Bowen, director of innovation for teaching and learning with technology, shared how AI can help with teaching from different points of view, including ideation, design, assessment, facilitation, and reflection.

“We see [teaching] as a key area where AI can have influence. It changes how we think about supporting or empowering our teachers,” Bowen said.

Sparrow likened using AI tools in teaching to the way a jazz band interacts—as one instrument winds down, another picks up, much like different AI tools function for different instructional needs.

“The idea is that we grow together, build on ideas, and we come to a better result,” she said.


An AI tool can be taught to focus on certain facts or aspects of a larger idea to help educators target specific concepts.

Using Eureka!, a tool built at Penn State, educators can start with a search for a concept. Eureka! returns results, and educators select the results that best reflect the ideas they want to highlight within that concept. This teaches Eureka! to refine its original definition of the idea, leading to streamlined results and more relevant information for the instructor.


10 issues that will shape 2019 for higher-ed IT leaders

Information security strategy is EDUCAUSE‘s No. 1 IT issue for 2019, topping the list for a fourth consecutive year. The top 10 issues were previewed at EDUCAUSE 2018.

Privacy, along with the notion of the integrative CIO, make their first appearance on the list of trends and issues that are forecasted to dominate higher-ed IT leaders’ priorities in 2019.

The 10 issues fall under three general themes: the notion of the data-enabled institution; funding, including sustainable funding and higher-ed affordability; and IT as an institutional leader and change agent.

Led by Susan Grajek, vice president of communities and research for EDUCAUSE, panelists included John Campbell, vice provost at West Virginia University; Merri Lavagnino, director of strategic planning and enterprise risk at Indiana University; Loretta Early, chief information officer at the George Washington University; Joel Hartman, vice president and CIO at the University of Central Florida; and Carlos Morales, president of the TCC Connect Campus in the Tarrant County College District.

The list will be officially released in early 2019.

1. Information security strategy: Developing a risk-based security strategy that effectively detects, responds to, and prevents security threats and challenges

2. Student success: Serving as a trusted partner with other campus units to drive and achieve student success initiatives

“I believe the IT staff can do amazing things if they’re aware of this pressure on student success,” Lavagnino said. “They can identify ways the IT organization can better assist with student success initiatives.”

For instance, there will be an influx of students from disadvantaged socio-economic households, and those students typically don’t achieve degrees in the same amount of time as students from higher economic backgrounds. Data predicts large shifts in student demographics and the geographic areas producing more college students.

“Are colleges sand universities ready to address these changes? We as IT people need to bring our creativity to the table when we’re trying to address the needs of this different student body we’re going to have,” she said.


How online courseware boosted student engagement at Kennesaw State University

Universities nationwide are facing the same challenge: how to make textbooks more relevant, meaningful and engaging for students. This problem has grown as the lack of student engagement—especially among general education classes—continues to be a contributing factor to today’s rapidly declining RPG (retention, progression, and graduation) rates.

For Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Georgia, educators were working to overcome this same obstacle while experiencing rather high DWFI (D, fail, withdraw, incomplete) rates in one of its institutional requirements, WELL 1000L Foundations for Healthy Living. Students were not successfully completing this required course, which could jeopardize their college careers.

With a desire to lower the DFWI rate without compromising the academic integrity of the course, KSU faculty and staff decided to alter the WELL 1000 objectives while also replacing the textbook with online courseware that equipped students with more emerging technologies to help boost student engagement.

The implementation process
In the redesigned WELL 1000 course, KSU desired to offer a more holistic approach focused on goal-setting and building self-assessments and reflections to establish long-term health behaviors. This required a number of content progressions as well as a process to better identify and support at-risk students.

To make this happen, KSU partnered with Perceivant to house course materials as well as leverage their innovative tools, which included predictive analytics to identify struggling students and meaningful editorial support. The goal was to work together to boost student engagement by making course content more relevant and meaningful while still aligning it with the university’s general education standards.

First, KSU and Perceivant collaborated to ensure the WELL 100 courseware materials reflected this new progressive method of teaching while focusing on more modern health behavioral topics that contribute to the leading risk behaviors of college students in the United States. Thanks to Perceivant’s editorial process, KSU instructors were heavily supported in the creation of customized content that aligned specifically with course objectives.

In addition, the two partners worked simultaneously to ensure consistency across more than 35 instructors and 70 course sections while allowing each instructor to easily add content such as assignments and extra-credit opportunities.

Since recent studies show that more than 60 percent of teachers nationwide feel inadequately prepared to use education technology, Perceivant team members also came on-site to train WELL 100 instructors on the platform once the content was finalized. This process efficiently armed educators with the knowledge to leverage the platform properly to ensure the most optimal learning experience for students.


Higher Ed Ethics Watch

Are you interested in academic integrity, faculty ethics, or sports ethics? Love to debate your colleagues about accountability and student responsibility? If so, then this blog is for you!

Written by “The Ethics Sage” (aka Dr. Steven Mintz, professor emeritus from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo), Higher Ed Ethics Watch is an award-wining blog that shares insights about issues that have an ethical dimension.

Don’t miss “It’s Time to Get Serious About Civility” for terrific insight about free speech on campus.

[Editor’s Note: eCampus News will be featuring a higher ed blog every Monday. Send your favorites to]


How to use tech to address students’ mental health

Have you heard about TAO Connect, an online therapy platform? eCampus News was curious about how it works, so we spoke with Nancy Zlatkin, Psy.D., a psychologist at Florida International University (FIU). Zlatkin, has been using the online program for close to five years.

Q: How long has FIU been offering therapy via TAO Connect?

FIU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has been offering TAO treatment since January 2014.

Q: How many students have taken advantage of the services?

As of September 2018, we’ve had 366 students use the services.

Q: Why did you feel the need to offer this benefit to students?

Our student population consists of both on-campus and online students. Because of this, it can be difficult to find supplemental counseling services that effectively reach every student and can be personalized to their own needs. While CAPS had developed several programs to empower students to take control of their own behavioral health, we were looking for more versatility in how our services were delivered.

Offering TAO to students was aligned with CAPS’ plan to increase parity in services between traditional students and online students. Furthermore, TAO had been shown to be effective for college students presenting to college counseling centers with specific issues. Students are now able to use tools such as anxiety monitoring logs, where they can report episodes of anxiety and apply lessons they’ve learned, as well as engage in videoconferences with their CAPS therapist in between face-to-face sessions.

As TAO developed, it demonstrated versatility by being available through a self-help option as well as integration into course instruction (e.g., Freshman Experience courses). For the students who have high-level motivation and lower-level issues such as mild anxiety, the self-help option lets them work at their own pace, on their own time. Essentially, the platform’s customization has proven to be beneficial for a wide array of behavioral scenarios.

Q: Do you have any metrics about its effectiveness? 

We evaluated TAO’s effectiveness using the Behavioral Health Measure 20, or the BHM-20. This is a 21-item scale-based measure that involves four major sub-scales: global mental health, well-being, life functioning, and symptoms. These can be further broken down into anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, and suicide monitoring. When reviewing BHM-20 results at FIU after implementing TAO, students generally appear to report improvement in mood, anxiety, symptoms, and well-being. The greatest improvements also tend to occur in the first four sessions, emphasizing TAO’s effectiveness in providing information students can immediately apply to their lives.

Q: What advice would you give to other universities that may be thinking of working with TAO Connect (or another provider of online therapy)?

Investing in technology is the first step, but you have to customize it to your own student body to make it effective. Consider ways to involve departments outside of your counseling center to maximize opportunities to benefit students. Universities should be flexible with the ways TAO may be used to make the learning modules available to students through different avenues when appropriate (e.g., CAPS, Freshman Experience courses, athletics, etc.). You should also take time to train clinical staff regarding tele-behavioral practice in order to optimize clinician engagement.