The future of immersive learning

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), multimedia and other technologies are transforming educational models, especially in engineering and creative disciplines such as architecture, visual effects and graphic design. This white paper highlights how university students, administrators, faculty and IT staff can use powerful workstation technologies to support progressive, deeper learning approaches that can facilitate greater student potential and success.

Learn how to build a bridge from traditional classrooms and labs to immersive, digital-learning environments that facilitate deeper knowledge, experimentation and efficiency–boosting student innovation and outcomes. Read now.


Higher-ed tech adoption is surprisingly stressful for faculty

A survey of university professors reveals higher-ed tech adoption is one of their biggest sources of stress–a majority say they’ve experienced anxiety and both personal and professional tension.

The survey points to the alarming notion that college and university faculty aren’t ready for technologically savvy students who have never known a world without the internet or smartphones.

Related: The secret to edtech adoption? Make it easy

Male professors believe they are ahead of the curve when it comes to higher-ed tech adoption in the classroom, but they actually lag behind their female counterparts.

Overall, less than one-third of surveyed professors say they are prepared to equip Generation Z students for the modern-day workplace.


Schools focus on community college pipeline

Across the country, efforts are growing to build a community college pipeline that will help students transition from community college to four-year institutions seamlessly and with greater success.

Xavier University of Louisiana has received a three-year, $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to do just that.

The grant will help support initiatives designed to expand the university’s community college pipeline and to establish a new summer bridge program.

Related: Academic advising and degree maps are helping students earn STEM degrees

The grant will fund ongoing university efforts to engage and enroll more community college students by streamlining its transfer administrative process, clarifying course and major requirements, and reducing any course-related hindrances to graduating in four-years.

It will also fund a new pilot summer immersion program, Mellon Humanities Summer Scholars Initiative at Xavier, which will provide potential community college transfer students an opportunity to “test drive” the university prior to matriculating.


Student retention: From adaptive tools to student coaching, learn how to improve retention rates

Here are the most popular articles on student retention trends within the past month:

1. Can adaptive tools improve student retention?
A new initiative targets ways to improve student retention and course success with digital courseware

2. Here’s one way to stop “summer melt”
Georgia State University’s virtual assistant helps incoming freshmen navigate the student enrollment process

3. Can student coaching help higher ed improve retention rates?
Retention rates are rising at Loyola University New Orleans, thanks to student coaching


University of Pittsburgh tips-off new era of fan experience with Extreme Networks

Sports venues are searching for new and inventive ways to attract fans to events and engage them during games through digital technology. Today, Extreme Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) announced that the University of Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center has taken a major step forward, by tapping Extreme to deliver a professional-grade, high-density Wi-Fi network capable of simultaneously supporting venue operations and the digital appetite of 13,000 attendees, while providing a robust foundation to create next-generation fan experiences like augmented reality.

The Petersen Events Center hosts more than 100 events each year, including basketball games, concerts, and graduations, and the network is essential to powering its wireless ticket scanners, merchandise sales and myriad connected devices. It previously relied on the University’s campus network to deliver Wi-Fi access. However, the overtaxed network did not offer sufficient capacity or scale to meet University needs and the event center’s game-day demand for secure and reliable service, resulting in complaints from fans and the media.

Working with Extreme Networks and deployment partner, Ideal Integrations, Petersen Events Center built its own separate network, which seamlessly sends traffic back to the campus network in order to rapidly authenticate users. The new network supports the high bandwidth demands of spectators and media, and quickly resolves bottlenecks to ensure a quality, interactive fan experience. Leveraging a combination of Extreme Elements™, Petersen Events Center now has the building blocks in place to enable future digital innovations such as interactive scoreboards, an advanced game-day application equipped with mobile ordering services – supported by geofencing and beacon technology – and augmented reality experiences.

Key benefits:

–High-density, professional-grade Wi-Fi network: Leveraging ExtremeMobility™ access points and ExtremeSwitching™ technology, Petersen Events Center has the scale and capacity to provide a frictionless game day experience. Students and fans can share their experiences on social media, instantly access real-time statistics and commentary, and stream instant replay videos on their mobile devices, while media can upload high-quality photographs and video during games without jitter or latency.
–Streamlined network management: Petersen Events Center’s IT staff of three needed a network solution that was easy to implement, so IT can focus on forward-looking initiatives, rather than troubleshooting and device management. With Extreme Management Center™, the IT team can automate and manage the network with a single pane of glass and ensure smooth operations during events.
–Full control and granular visibility: Combining ExtremeControl™ NAC software with Extreme Management Center™, Petersen Events Center now has centralized, end-to-end control of its network with granular visibility of all guest and IoT devices to ensure simple and secure onboarding and reduce security vulnerabilities.

Executive Perspectives

Heather Lyke, Director of Athletics, University of Pittsburgh
“It’s a top priority for us to provide our fans with a complete experience when they visit the Petersen Events Center, whether it’s for a game, concert, or graduation. In this day and age, that experience is significantly measured by connectivity. How well do phones work in your venue? Do fans have access to social media? Is your Wi-Fi overloaded? This isn’t considered a luxury anymore—it’s an expectation. Through our partnership with Extreme Networks and Ideal Integrations, our fans can now enjoy seamless connectivity at ‘The Pete.’ This was an important step in helping us make the Petersen Events Center a contemporary, tech-driven venue, which will greatly enhance the experience for all.”

John Brams, Director, Hospitality, Sports and Entertainment, Extreme Networks
“Mobile connectivity is at the heart of today’s game day experience. If you don’t design your network with the ‘second screen’ in mind, your fans won’t stay ‘fans’ for long. The University of Pittsburgh recognized this and is now deploying a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi system that supports real-time fan engagement, and streamlines operations and management, so IT staff can focus on building even more personalized and interactive experiences.”

Michael Stratos, Founder and CEO, Ideal Integrations
“At Ideal Integrations, we strive to equip customers with the technology and skills they need to gain a competitive advantage. With Extreme, we’ve been able to help Petersen Events Center solve their immediate wireless needs and give them the power to innovate. With a powerful and reliable network in place, Petersen Events Center can have the confidence to tackle the future-looking projects they’ve been sidelining.”


3 no-cost ways to support mental health on campus

Mental illness is on the rise in schools,and the need to address mental health on campus is more pressing than ever. As mental-health advocates fight to remove the stigma associated with mental illness, more clinical diagnoses are made. Twenty-five years ago, anxiety and depression were two illnesses barely discussed and rarely diagnosed. Now, they are flooding public school classrooms.

A survey conducted in February by the Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of teenagers identified mental health as a major issue among their peers—a number higher than bullying, drug addiction, or gangs. So with numbers that high, it should be assumed that public school funding would be prioritizing student mental health, but that’s not the case. In fact, too often, it’s our support staff who bears the weight of the financial crises facing public education.

I’ve spent 16 years as a teacher and educational leader. In that time, I’ve seen teaching go from a profession tasked with guiding children and young adults through academic curriculum to one of social and emotional teaching and learning. Twenty years ago, students were concerned with time management and quadratic equations; today they are overwhelmed by social media and stories of school violence.

Last month, the ALCU published an article called “Why School Psychologists Are Worried About the Mental Health of America’s Students.” In it, Angela Mann talks about school psychologists’ exhaustion and burnout due to high caseloads and understaffed schools. Data analysis from the U.S. Department of Education found a majority of public schools to be understaffed and unable to address the mental-health issues of its students.

The underfunding of mental health on campus

The underfunding of mental health in public schools is of concern. According to Mann, on average, school psychologists across the country have caseloads over 1,500 students on average; nearly half of schools report not even employing a school psychologist. Sadly too, Mann continues, the documented benefits of having mental-health personnel on staff is indisputable. School climate improves, discipline rates decrease, attendance increases, and graduation rates get much better too.

Unfortunately, the funding crisis shows no sign of letting up. In an August 2018 neaToday article, the authors identify funding as the first of 10 challenges faced by public education. In the decade since the Great Recession, many states are providing less funding to public education than they did before the crash. Schools are losing staff in droves. Districts, on average, spend approximately $11,000 per student every year, with the most economically disadvantaged school districts spending $1,200 less than that and districts with the highest number of students of color spending $2,000 less.

Related: 5 things to say to students suffering from anxiety

If public education cannot rely on the fiscal backing of state or federal government to prioritize student social and emotional learning, what are school districts expected to do?

3 cost-free ways to support mental health on campus

1. Allow private counselors to meet with students during the school day.

When funding decreases, districts often cut support staff to meet the newly established budgetary constraints. Such cuts lead to the untenable caseloads of school psychologists described above. For many students, academic success will continue to be unattainable as long as their mental health is neglected.

Private counselors could be an easy solution to this problem if education leaders would be willing to acknowledge the numerous benefits of making use of their services. Many private therapists cannot fill their schedules during the day. Clients with full-time jobs cannot meet during work hours and students can’t always miss class time for therapy.


How to balance transparency and security in cybersecurity education

Every field of study has its challenges, and cybersecurity education faces a big one: how can educators can share detailed curricula around things like malware and cyberattacks without serving up a potential recipe book for those with ill intent?

Sensitive information shared with the wrong people in the classroom (physical or online) can fuel a malicious actor’s own educational learning curve. That’s obviously something to be avoided, but cybersecurity educators and their students still need to find a way to study concepts and use cases at the level of granularity sufficient for the real-world jobs they’re training for.

Related: Is your cybersecurity program on track?

Let’s take a closer look at how to strike the right balance in cybersecurity education.

Keeping black hats out of the classroom

The increasingly online and globally-connected nature of cybersecurity education is bringing more people to the field. That’s a good thing, but it requires a renewed focus on vetting curricula and understanding students’ interests and goals. The more we can do this, the more we guard against misuse of coursework by potential threat actors.


Advancing quality and excellence in higher education

There is no shortage of challenges facing institutions of higher education. A cursory scan of higher education news outlets provides a snapshot of the financial, reputational, operational, and at times, existential issues on the minds of leaders in higher education. There is a growing recognition of the need for more dedicated professional development in the areas of leadership, change management, organizational performance, and innovation. The Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI) has been on the front lines of this pursuit for organizational excellence in higher education.

It began as a small group of like-minded higher education professionals focused on embracing total quality principles in colleges and universities across the United States. NCCI’s membership, mission and value has expanded over the past two decades. The association now has nearly 100 member institutions, ranging from smaller community colleges to large research 1 universities—all of whom share an interest in working collaboratively to employ innovative methods to advance academic and administrative excellence in higher education.

Related: 5 approaches will shape higher ed’s future–which will you follow?

In response to the dizzying and overwhelming set of issues facing colleges and universities, there exists the need for collaborative solutions that transcend institutional type, geographic location, traditional academic and administrative silos and roles, and primary mission areas.

NCCI continues to provide a relevant infrastructure for the collective exchange of strategies, tools, and best practices for enhancing organizational cultures to embrace quality, improvement, and innovation.

Ron Coley, one of NCCI’s founders and former vice chancellor for business and administrative services at the University of California Riverside, describes necessity as the catalyst for the creation of NCCI.


How the university library can help students save money

The university library is a central hub connecting nearly every facet of a campus, and it is supported by students’ tuition. In the library, we asked ourselves what we could do to defray costs for students while also removing financial barriers to reading and learning.

The answer lay right at our fingertips, with the millions of pieces of content we buy or license for our library every year. We decided to partner across the university to help faculty assign students course materials from the library’s collections, and deliver them directly in their courses.

Related: What role will university libraries play in the future?

Today, the average tuition of a four-year college is $34,740 a year–a 168 percent jump in the last 20 years. There is now $1.5 trillion in collective outstanding student debt, eclipsing the amount Americans owe on their credit cards. The already-high price tag for college doesn’t take into account ancillary expenses like textbooks and course materials, which many students skip buying because they can’t afford them, even though they are concerned it will negatively impact their learning.


The future of CAPS in higher education

Colleges and universities are attempting to bring science and practice together to address the mental health and well-being of college students. But they have a long way to go—the best practices that can help institutions deliver counseling and psychological services (CAPS) in higher education.

Making some headway, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) is a multidisciplinary, member-driven, Practice-Research-Network (PRN) focused on providing accurate and up-to-date information on the mental health of today’s college students. CCMH strives to connect practice, research, and technology to benefit students, mental health providers, administrators, researchers, and the public.

Related: Student wellbeing is more important than you think

The collaborative efforts of approximately 550 college and university counseling centers and supportive organizations have enabled CCMH to build one of the nation’s largest databases on college student mental health. CCMH actively develops clinical tools, reports, and research using this data.

We need best practices for CAPS in higher education

Unfortunately, best practices available to CAPS professionals are limited at best. While the CCMH network does indeed collect reams of data, it doesn’t do well providing best practices, and especially those that focus upon prevention.

College and university CAPS professionals will tell you that our students are not well emotionally, psychologically, and physically, and those most connected to their well-being—faculty and advisers—have not been given a way to address the problem in an integrated way. Students are entering colleges and universities with expanded well-being needs and more mental and physical challenges and illnesses. And these well-being needs have not been adequately measured, let alone addressed, by faculty, front-line advisers, or university leaders.

Happiness and success from the inside-out

Harvard psychologist Dr. Shawn Achor’s research demonstrated that only 25 percent of our success comes from the intellect. The remaining 75 percent is divided among optimism levels and social supports, and the ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat. “If we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change our realities” (Anchor, 2010). Further, only 10 percent of our external circumstances predict our future success, which means that 90 percent stems from the lens through which we see the world and create our realities, from the inside-out.

Related: 2 actions university leaders can take to impact student wellbeing

To build students’ abilities from the inside-out, there is an increased need for academic affairs and student affairs organizations to be combined into one seamless whole in order to be better able to serve student well-being needs.

An example of the integrated model in action is at The Ohio State University, through its Office of Student Life, which is implementing a framework that extends and integrates personal wellness into career services, academic advising, and student engagement, among some twenty additional university units and departments. The mission of student affairs and student life is “to create an extraordinary student experience,” clearly attempting to provide transformational opportunities from the inside-out. If colleges and universities follow Ohio State’s lead and provide these resources, students will use them, because it is in their self-interest to do so. They will have more of what they want from college—training for a success that will last a lifetime.

The “Integrated Success Model”

One approach that leaders of CAPS in higher education can implement is the “Integrated Student Success Model,” or iSuccess, which produces happy, healthy, thriving college students through practices that are integrated across university functional areas. The iSuccess model offers higher education a new lens with which to view students, representing a breakthrough prevention model and student well-being approach.

Three research-based, high-impact practices empower students to create their own pathways to success. The Integrated Self Model (iSelf) is a framework to help students develop self-awareness through self-system and positive psychology attributes. The Self Across the Curriculum (SAC) is a pedagogy to include the teaching of self-knowledge throughout the curriculum. And the Success Predictor (SP) is a student success assessment instrument and intervention tool. These practices are shared across career counseling, academic advising, CAPS, faculty teaching, and student engagement activities.