3 ways universities can implement IoT technology and connected devices

Like every other organization these days, higher education facilities can use IoT technology to streamline operations and enhance the user experience — with the users, in this case, being both educators and students.

Technologies like connected devices, collaboration and video platforms, and remote monitoring tools can help educators teach more effectively, boost student engagement, and ensure IT can keep everything up and running.

Related content: How to secure IoT on campus

These three applications are just a few ways universities can combine IoT, hardware and software to promote learning and ensure seamless classroom experiences.

1. Active learning formats

There’s a new buzzword in education every year, and the hottest trend of the moment is to move from the “sage-on-the-stage” style of teaching and towards active learning methodologies. There are several different models, SCALE-UP and TEAL (technology-enabled active learning) to name a few.

Instead of separating classroom discussion and lab work, active learning blends lectures and hands-on active and group learning in a single lesson: Instructors teaching large sections can deliver lectures and coordinate practical work and group discussion, while students gain hands-on experience by using technology to visualize concepts and carry out group work or experiments.

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Learn how this institution supported students and faculty during a pandemic

IT leaders at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design started a cloud-based transformation before the global coronavirus health pandemic shuttered physical campus operations and moved instruction online.

With that transformation, the institution was prepared when forced to move quickly and support students, faculty, and staff in its abrupt shift to all-online operations.

Related content: What every student should know about online learning

Here, Matthew Weitzel, RMCAD’s IT project lead, discusses the institution’s IT priorities and goals.

Q: What was the goal of Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design’s (RMCAD) IT transformation before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and how did it evolve over the past few months?

Since 1963, our Denver-based college’s mission has been to make RMCAD a “community of creatives” that instills in all students a passion for creativity, innovation, and a desire for lifelong learning—both in the fine arts and applied arts. Similar to many other higher education institutions, we recognized the value of moving our systems to the cloud prior to the pandemic, however “social distancing” was not part of anyone’s lexicon at the time.

Our initial goal with the cloud-based transformation centered around the idea of serving a greater diversity of students, offering more program flexibility, allocating more resources around student success, and having a platform that could easily grow with them. Now it’s a critical factor in our ability to deliver education and training as an essential service. Now offering both on-ground, online, and hybrid programs as a result of our proactive IT transformation, our team was ready to pivot to fully online operations when the pandemic hit.

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4 reasons your campus app is key for crisis communications

COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, forcing higher education to make radical changes in a short amount of time. Yet, somehow, campus leaders must keep operations moving forward and keep students and employees engaged, informed, and—most of all—safe.

Amid so much uncertainty, and with plans continually evolving as new information becomes available, students and staff naturally have many questions and concerns. Communicating clearly and regularly with all stakeholder groups is essential, as is making sure they receive your messages instantly.

Related content: How campuses can plan for online orientation

While colleges and universities should use multiple communications channels to reach all constituencies effectively, there is no better tool than your mobile campus app for distributing vital information to students and others. A 2016 survey from Bowling Green State University found that email can be hit or miss when it comes to communicating with students, whereas traditional college-age students spend more than four hours a day on their smartphones, on average.

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How to certify teachers when schools are closed

During the COVID-19 impact, many aspects of student life have come to a grinding halt. To help address an acute shortage of accredited teachers, even under these extraordinary circumstances, Alliant University’s California School of Education (CSOE) has been forming partnerships to appropriately provide alternative approaches for teacher candidates to meet clinical practice, field experience, and performance assessment requirements. In collaboration with these partners, our instructors and leaders have been working to develop tools and best practices to not just meet but exceed requirements.

Related content: How campuses can plan for online orientation

Even before the crisis, Alliant’s teaching credential programs were composed of online coursework paired with hands-on practice. Teacher candidates took courses online, received support online, and utilized video-based observations and feedback. Our students, although teaching in traditional classroom settings, would capture their lessons on video and then use ADVANCEfeedback® to receive feedback from peers and mentor teachers.

With school buildings closed, we are particularly concerned about ensuring that all teacher candidates complete coursework and field-based learning experiences, then demonstrate the adopted performance expectations in order to stay on their pathways for becoming credentialed teachers.

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Online STEM Summer Camps for High School and College Students

Numerade—an online education platform founded with a mission to provide equitable access to high-quality STEM instruction—today announced the launch of free, virtual STEM summer camps open to students at the middle, high school, and college levels. Course offerings include SAT Test Prep, Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics, all taught by top-ranked STEM PhDs, college professors, and high school teachers. Students can enroll now for this free program and begin taking their courses as soon as June 1 with ongoing enrollment available thereafter.

Students can participate in Numerade’s free summer STEM camps to get a head start on the courses they’ll be taking in the fall or as an enrichment opportunity in which they can take courses not offered at their school. Students may also use these courses to catch up on any material missed due to school closures caused by Covid-19. Each course follows the common core curriculum and covers an entire semester’s worth of material.

“We’re excited to launch Numerade’s STEM summer camps at a time when it’s more important than ever for students to have access to world-class content to maintain and enhance their learning despite ongoing school closures,” said Nhon Ma, CEO and Co-Founder of Numerade. “By taking our engaging STEM courses this summer, students will not only acquire foundational knowledge but also be positioned to excel next school year. The summer camps are completely free and available asynchronously on any device, making them a great option for any student interested in getting ahead in their learning.”

Each week during the summer, students will receive a new batch of lessons covering interesting and relevant topics, presented in short, digestible video clips. Numerade’s video-based instruction makes learning accessible and engaging. Course offerings include the following:

Test Prep

  • SAT Prep—This course will cover in-depth what students need to know for the math, reading, writing, and essay portions of the SAT, including test-taking techniques and practice problems.

Precalculus and Calculus

  • Precalculus—This course weaves together algebra, geometry, and mathematical functions used in pre-calculus and beyond and will cover basic properties of functions, conic sections, matrices and determinants, introductory trigonometry, and probability.
  • Calculus 1 / AB—Students will learn how to solve calculus problems on topics including limits, continuity, derivative rules, optimization, and related rates.
  • Calculus 2 / BC—Students will learn to compute the area of curves and cover topics including integrals, Riemann sums, techniques of integration, improper integration, differential equations, and Taylor series.
  • Calculus 3—Numerade’s highest level calculus summer camp will go in-depth into vector and vector functions in 2D and 3D, multivariable differential calculus, and double integrals in both the Cartesian and Polar coordinate planes.

Chemistry and Physics

  • Chemistry 101—Students will engage in experiments that demonstrate real-life applications of chemistry and delve into measurements, atomic theory, bonding, stoichiometry, states of matter, solutions, acids and bases, and titrations.
  • Chemistry 102—This course builds on Chemistry 101 by helping students uncover and explore principles governing atomic structure, bonding, states of matter, stoichiometry, and chemical equilibrium.
  • Physics 101 Mechanics—In this course, students will discover what’s behind phenomena including one-dimensional motion or kinematics and study Newton’s laws of motion, energy, forces, momentum, circular motion, rotational motion, and rolling and slipping objects.
  • Physics 102 Electricity and Magnetism—This virtual laboratory course will introduce students to thermodynamics (temperature, heat, heat engines, entropy), electricity and magnetism.
  • Physics 103—Students explore all kinds of waves including mechanical, sound, light, and quantum mechanics and delve deep into concepts at the leading edge of the field.

Consistent with Numerade’s focus on democratizing access to STEM content from world-class educators, each summer camp is free of charge, accessible on-demand at the learner’s convenience, and on any device. Students at the middle, high school, or college level interested in enhancing their understanding of key STEM subjects are invited to register. Registration is now open for all courses at https://www.numerade.com/summer-camp/

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New Data-Collection Technology for College-Level Chemistry

Vernier Software & Technology recently released new data-collection technology to engage college-level chemistry students in hands-on experimentation and data analysis. The new, cost-effective solutions—including Go Direct® Mini GC™, Go Direct® Polarimeter, the Go Direct® Cyclic Voltammetry System, the free Vernier Instrumental Analysis™ app, and free experiments—provide undergraduate students the opportunity to explore a wide range of chemistry concepts.

“The new instruments, app, and experiments make up a robust collection of affordable resources that help college students learn and visualize important chemistry concepts,” said John Wheeler, CEO of Vernier Software & Technology. “Once in-person labs resume, instructors can easily incorporate these resources into their chemistry curriculum and have students analyze chemical data in new ways.”

Go Direct Mini GC, Go Direct Polarimeter, and the Go Direct Cyclic Voltammetry System connect to a wide variety of devices through USB or Bluetooth® wireless technology, making these instruments easy to adapt into teaching labs. The free Vernier Instrumental Analysis app intuitively guides students through the data-collection process and includes instrument-specific analysis features for all of the new chemistry sensors. It is supported by Chrome™, iOS, iPadOS®, Android™, Windows®, and macOS®.

The Go Direct Cyclic Voltammetry System provides students with hands-on experience with electrochemical reactions as they learn how to easily control and apply potential to a chemical system and measure the response as electrical current. This affordable piece of instrumentation features disposable electrodes, saving students the hassle associated with polishing traditional electrodes. The system was developed in partnership with electrochemical research instrumentation specialists Pine Research, and the Electrochemistry Experiments with the Go Direct Cyclic Voltammetry System e-book, which features five investigations, is available for free with the purchase of the system.

Go Direct Mini GC is a portable, easy-to-use gas chromatograph that detects polar and nonpolar compounds. With this data-collection device and the Vernier Instrumental Analysis app, students can separate, analyze, and identify substances contained in a volatile liquid or gaseous sample. The e-book, Chromatography Experiments with the Go Direct Mini GC™, is available for free with purchase.

Go Direct Polarimeter provides students with a visual representation of chirality by measuring the optical rotation of optical isomers such as sugars, amino acids, and proteins. The unique vertical layout and a lack of need for custom glassware make this polarimeter very student friendly. In addition, the analyzer is automatically rotated by an internal motor giving students more time to understand experiments such as the reaction kinetics of hydrochloric acid and sucrose. The instrument includes free downloadable experiments that can be easily incorporated into the chemistry curriculum.

To learn more about these new chemistry solutions, visit www.vernier.com/college-chemistry.

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COVID-19 is disrupting non-traditional online students, too

COVID-19’s impact on traditional learners was widely covered as students abruptly left campus to keep their communities healthy and continue learning at a distance. But the influence on non-traditional adult students who are already learning online is no less dramatic.

COVID-19 is a major life event that’s impacting all learners in different ways, with more than 1 million Americans sickened by the virus, 26 million U.S workers who have recently filed jobless claims, and 55 million school-aged kids now learning at home.

Related content: New tool gauges online learning’s effectiveness

For adult learners who are already managing responsibilities such as working full-time jobs and acting as a caregiver for children or parents, the addition of a pandemic can seem overwhelming. Here are ways academic institutions can support non-traditional online students to ensure they can achieve their academic goals and advance their careers.

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Online teaching: Extraordinary times mean taking extraordinary measures

For a few years now, the specter of online teaching had been encroaching into my classroom as the inevitable fate of higher education in the United States. Slowly but surely we, professors of all sorts, are enticed to design our syllabi as “online courses,” both as a way to recruit hard-to-reach students and to conform to our universities’ unavoidable e-teaching trajectory.

Meanwhile, many of us halfheartedly resisted such a fate, mostly by asserting the importance of “real-life” professor-student exchanges on the basis of experiential learning principles. Truth be told, online teaching somehow felt like the death knell of our role as educators. Some of us feared that we would be eventually substituted by computerized teaching proctors that would effectively deliver lectures on-demand, without asking for sick leave or retirement benefits in return. How long would it take before we were completely replaced by automated versions of ourselves? Would professors like me be deemed obsoleted once e-learning technologies were set to do our jobs faster and for a tenth of the price?

Related content: Gauging online learning’s effectiveness

Although these were the types of rhetorical questions that nobody dared ask out loud, they still remained in the back of the minds of many—me included—until now.

Let’s fast-forward to the COVID-19 crisis. For a month now, educators of all sorts have been forced to replace the classroom with a virtual version of itself. In a matter of hours, we all hurried to self-train on online teaching and remote learning technologies, and signed up for crash courses on how to successfully manage the virtual classroom.

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Is it a good time to become a teacher?

COVID-19 has disrupted seemingly every facet of education. For teachers, the change has meant shifting to online instruction as you learn how to use it. Communication with parents and school administrators has also become perhaps more important than ever.

While everyone plays a pivotal role in transitioning to remote learning, teachers are on the front lines. They’re tasked with implementing rapidly changing school policies, and ensuring students continue to have access to quality education.

Related content: The ultimate PBL experience

With so much unknown about the future of education, many aspiring instructors are probably asking themselves, Is it a good time to become a teacher? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Acknowledge the challenges

In these unprecedented times, every business has struggled to quickly adapt to social distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders.

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What every student needs to know about eLearning

The complex realities of higher education have become increasingly turbulent in the last month. It’s no secret that the path to higher ed paints a different picture for every student, but recently, the institutions students trust to guide their learning are grappling with the same uncertain feelings.

Still, true online education has a long history of research, with more than 20 years of modern best practices that have been adapted since the iPhone brought computing to the everyday user’s pockets.

Related content: 3 reasons to embrace the shift to virtual learning

It’s critical for today’s students to understand the ways in which online education was developed in order for them to feel confident in making informed decisions on how to proceed with their education — and take advantage of well-structured institutions to deliver on these best practices. Students should not only consider, but embrace, these key areas of effective online education in order to best approach eLearning in times of flux.

True online learning provides an innate structure of support

In today’s landscape, online higher ed has widespread structure and support. Because the model of online learning was built around an assumption of distance between student and teacher, when done right, eLearning is the epitome of organization. Online learning supports the process of student-to-teacher communication with explicit instruction on information, assignments and expectations. In fact, a Shift Learning report recently found that eLearning increases retention rates to 25-60 percent compared to an 8-10 percent retention rate in face-to-face learning settings.

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