Tools include new guide for faculty publishing, new way to measure completion

tools-college-educationAn influx of new technologies and resources for higher education have either just landed or are about to land, making this spring/summer 2014 one of the busiest seasons for innovation—and eCampus News (eCN) is highlighting three tools with the most potential.

From the next social networking app that could be an incentive for incoming students to an innovative data tracking tool supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, these three noteworthy technologies could help your institution improve in efficiency and be on the forefront of higher-ed innovation.

This resource tool roundup is part of eCN’s ongoing mission to provide readers with the most current news and information available in higher-ed. Know of any tools or resources coming to market or recently available for postsecondary learning? Are these tools you’d recommend to other institutions, faculty or admin? Please leave your suggestions in the comment section on this page, or email me at

(Next page: JournalGuide)

3 new tools for spring/summer 2014

[Listed in alphabetical order]

1. JournalGuide

Research Square, which provides tools and services to hasten the pace of scientific discovery for the global academic community, has launched JournalGuide: A free tool to help researchers publish faster by choosing the best match for their manuscript from the beginning.

Using a central information hub containing primary data from journals, secondary information from public sources, and the shared experiences of researchers who have previously submitted papers to those journals, JournalGuide helps researchers to quickly evaluate scholarly journals in order to determine which ones reach their intended audience.

“JournalGuide enables researchers to make data-driven decisions in order to narrow the field of journals which would be most likely to have an interest in their papers, allowing them to save months of time and frustrating rounds of rejection,” says JournalGuide Co-Founder and Managing Director Keith Collier in a news release.

According to Collier, the days of choosing a journal “because that’s where we always submit” are rapidly disappearing. Noting that open access and online publishing tools have resulted in an explosion of new journal growth–with more than 2,000 journals added to the Directory of Open Access Journals in the past 12 months alone–Collier explains, “JournalGuide’s search tools and central information hub enables researchers to effectively search, sort, filter, and do side-by-side comparisons of journals’ selectivity, publication speed, cost, and open access options.”

JournalGuide works by matching scholarly journals to the content of academic papers so that researchers can immediately determine which journals will be most likely to have an interest in their articles. Researchers can use the title and abstract of a paper to discover which journals have already published articles on similar topics, in addition to searching by journal name, category, or publisher.

By allowing for author feedback, this also helps journals to improve, promoting a level of transparency that has not been available in scholarly publishing in the past.

Authors must be logged in to provide feedback and data are presented anonymously and in aggregate. JournalGuide currently is accepting ratings from authors, but is not yet displaying community data.

While JournalGuide’s most complete journal data are currently in the biomedical fields, the team is working with major publishers to add title/abstract metadata from over 30,000 additional journals, and is gathering general information for the journal-specific pages across all disciplines. Robust keyword-driven search in fields outside of the biomedical sciences will be available by summer 2014.

For more information about JournalGuide, visit

(Next page: SAM)

2. SAM (Student Achievement Measure)

SAM tracks student movement across postsecondary institutions to provide a more complete picture of undergraduate student progress and completion within the higher education system.

An alternative to the federal graduation rate, which is limited to tracking the completion of first-time, full-time students at one institution, SAM has two models, one for students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs and one for students enrolled in associate’s degree or certificate programs.

For more information on the two SAM models and the calculations, see the “Resources” page.

“Nationally, more than one in five students who complete a degree do so at an institution other than the one where they started, according to a recent study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center,” says the SAM website. “For institutions of higher education, the SAM offers an innovative reporting tool that provides a more comprehensive overview of student outcomes and includes a greater number of students. For policymakers and the public, SAM provides a more complete picture of student progress on the path to a degree or certificate.”

SAM is a collaborative effort by six higher-ed institutions (AACC, AASCU, ACE, AAU, APLU, and NAICU) and is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation.

Outcomes reported for the bachelor degree model will include the percentage of students who:

  • Graduated from the reporting institution
  • Are still enrolled at the reporting institution
  • Transferred/graduated from one or more subsequent institution
  • Transferred/are still enrolled at a subsequent institution
  • Have unknown current enrollment or graduation status (include students who transferred by whose enrollment or graduation status is unknown).

For more information on outcomes, data collection and more, read here.

Eligible institutions can sign up to participate by visiting the website.

(Next page: Tower app)

3. Tower

Tower App Development, Inc. a San Diego-based software company, will soon launch their mobile app—Tower—that is set to re-write how the world interacts on social networks.

According to the company, Tower completely deconstructed current social media apps and sites, identified weaknesses in each network, and “designed an app with user-centric features that will guarantee a more ‘natural’ feel to a social network as well as provide a lasting, enjoyable social experience.”

Using the app as a way to interest prospective students is just one way colleges and universities can use it, since Tower is a mobile application that connects users with the people in their residential building, dorms, neighborhoods, book clubs, et cetera.

“Wherever you are, you are connected,” said the company in a statement. The app could also be used to connect faculty and admin in various departments.

“Traditional social networks, like Facebook, Google+, SnapChat, and Instagram…roll-out feature and privacy updates that neither address users’ demands nor make their users’ social network experience any more enjoyable,” said the company.

The Tower app identified and addressed these user demands by developing a social network infrastructure that is centered around privacy control complete customize—each user can control their social environment.

The app will be available for free this Summer 2014 for Apple and Android.

Learn more:

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