Colleges seek cash for educational technology as budgets shrink

Thirty-five percent of college students said lecture capture technology has improved their grades.

Thirteen states are set to drop higher-education funding by double digits in 2012, the federal stimulus has run out, and student enrollment continues its uptick, forcing colleges and universities to find financially creative ways to fund pricey educational technology such as campus lecture capture systems.

By reclassifying lecture capture technology in a bid for federal money and dispersing the cost of lecture capture systems over several parts of a campus budget, educational technology leaders from colleges large and small are engaged in a kind of budgetary gymnastics to keep lecture capture systems that have proven popular among most students.

The budget-conscious ways to maintain—and even expand—lecture capture systems were detailed in a report published recently by the Center for Digital Education and Tegrity, a company that makes lecture capture technology.

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In “Funding Lecture Capture in Higher Education,” researchers say ed-tech funding isn’t as easy to find as states slash college funding, but there are still reliable methods for keeping lecture capture systems on campus.

Schools still can secure a healthy chunk of federal funds if they specify a “technological advancement clause” in official requests for lecture capture funding, the researchers wrote. Including in a federal grant application that lecture capture technology is “essential for faculty and student development” could qualify the technology for government money.

Following the example of ed-tech administrators at Pace University in New York, colleges and universities also can spread the costs of lecture capture systems over a range of campus budgets.

Drawing money from the school’s general fund, maintenance and operations, and instructional technology allocations can piece together enough funding to maintain lecture capture systems in lecture halls and classrooms, researchers wrote.

“Higher-education leaders just need to be prepared and do their homework to determine which solutions fit best,” said LeiLani Cauthen, vice president of the Center for Digital Education. “Given the recent budget constraints that higher-education institutions are experiencing as a result of the loss of federal funding, it is clear that administrators must search for alternative ways to secure the funds needed to maintain their institution’s [educational] technology leadership.”

Pace University officials first brought lecture capture technology to classrooms in a pilot program funded entirely by the campus’s centralized operations budget. When the pilot ended, the university sought technology fees from students to pay for lecture capture technology and licensing costs.

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