Best practices in higher-education technology use

Here are some of the best practices in campus technology use featured in our November/December 2012 edition.

An Arkansas college has achieved success by learning its students’ technology needs … A new eLearning venture invites students to contribute course content themselves … Tufts University has become a leader in social media outreach by focusing on one word—“Vibe”: These are among the best practices in higher-ed tech use featured in the Nov./Dec. 2012 edition of eCampus News.

The digital version of our Nov./Dec. edition is now available. You can browse the full publication here, or click on the headlines below to read any of these highlights:

Boise State seeks to redefine ‘well-educated’

Sam Matson flashed a picture of two rocks on the wall-size screen in front of about 100 students taking his Introduction to Physical Geology class. Which rock, he asked, is volcanic? The students picked up their clickers. Results were on the screen within moments, and 76 percent chose the correct rock.

That tiny teaching moment reflects a sea change in how Boise State University is educating students, beginning this school year.

After more than three years of study and discussion, Boise State launched a new Foundational Studies Program this semester. The program focuses on moving beyond pouring facts and theories into students’ heads with a structure that makes critical thinking, innovation, teamwork, effective writing, and communication essential outcomes of classes…

NWACC uses technology to serve its ‘customers’ better

Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) is a public two-year college located in Bentonville, Ark. NWACC opened its doors to 1,200 students in August 1990 and now has more than 7,000 students, making it one of the largest and fastest growing two-year college in Arkansas.

Recognizing that “customer” satisfaction is a key factor in recruiting and retaining students, NWACC has made it easy for stakeholders to access computer systems and resources through mobile devices, and this attention to service has paid off: In a recent survey, a majority of students said they were happy with the school’s technology services.

NWACC also has used technology to reduce costs and improve decision making, and it is a state leader in technology use. For these reasons and more, we’ve chosen NWACC as our “eCampus of the Month” for November/December. Here, Chief Information Officer Paige Francis describes the school’s ed-tech accomplishments and the keys to its success…

New online university seeks ‘many-to-many’ approach

Two George Mason University economics professors have started a free educational site that seeks to answer a simple but far-reaching question: Why are some countries rich while other countries are poor?

Marginal Revolution University, known as MRUniversity, launched Oct. 1 as a hub for teachings on developmental economics, starting with a study of India’s economy.

The site is part massive open online course (MOOC), as it offers college-level teachings at no cost to anyone with an internet connection. But it strays from the traditional MOOC model with an innovative approach that invites students themselves to share educational material—studies, reports, and videos, for example—to supplement the online lessons on developmental economics…

Tufts uses ‘Vibe’ in massive outreach to prospective students

Dean Tsouvalas, editor-in-chief of, recently interviewed Daniel Grayson, associate director of undergraduate admissions at Tufts University, which appears on StudentAdvisor’s list of the Top 100 Social Media Colleges.

Grayson pushed to begin Tufts’ social media outreach and founded the university’s admissions presences on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and He attributes the school’s successful approach to using social media in admissions to one word: “Vibe.”

“In all our outreach, whether through pubs, the campus visit, our traditional website, or our social media efforts, we want our prospective students to garner a sense of our values, attitudes, and personality,” he says. “We know that the intangible quality of a school’s ‘vibe’ drives our students’ ultimate university selection—so what we put out needs to reflect the vibe of Tufts. Personality matters, and every post or tweet needs to reflect that.”

Tennessee’s classroom upgrade offers new way of teaching

Learning at the University of Tennessee soon might be revolutionized by a $350 plastic chair. That chair—1,410 of them, actually—is the crux of a $4 million renovation project in the Humanities and Social Sciences building.

Set on wheels, the brightly colored seat—called the “Node,” and made by Steelcase Inc.—spins in all directions and has a rotating desktop that will allow students to be mobile inside the classrooms.

“What we he hope to do over time is move to having a lot of learning in the classroom be interaction,” said Bill Dunne, an associate dean of engineering and chair of the classroom upgrades subcommittee. “We’re working at eliminating the front of the room.”

The key to campus network security: Better risk management

Campus networks host tens of thousands of devices each day, and while those devices have access to network resources, campus IT administrators must be vigilant as they strike a balance between openness and vigilance.

Finding that balance can prove difficult if IT administrators attempt to address every single threat, no matter how relevant that threat might be to the campus. Many experts suggest focusing on a university’s mission, and adjusting security measures so they support this mission…

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eCampus News Staff