Trends such as student success, competency-based learning were a focus of many announcements from EDUCAUSE 2013 exhibitors

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Collaborative learning was another key higher-education trend that EDUCAUSE exhibitors sought to address.

Exhibitors at the 2013 EDUCAUSE conference in Anaheim, Calif., unveiled new ed-tech products that responded to several key trends in higher education, such as helping to ensure student success and facilitating a shift to competency-based learning.

One important trend in recent years has been an increased focus on student success and retention, with many colleges rolling out programs designed to track student performance and deliver more personalized, targeted support to keep students engaged and on a path to graduation.

As a reflection of how significant this trend has become, “leveraging IT for student success” tied for the third biggest priority among campus IT leaders this year, according to the 2013 Campus Computing Project survey. And in response to this trend, a number of EDUCAUSE exhibitors introduced new products (or discussed existing services) designed to help boost student success.

For instance, Oracle announced new “program-based enrollment” features for its PeopleSoft Campus Solutions suite.

The new functionality aims to help colleges and universities improve retention and degree completion by guiding students through the enrollment process in a more structured way, Oracle says—helping them to select the best classes, in the right sequence, to meet their academic goals in as short a time as possible.

During last year’s EDUCAUSE conference, electronic textbook provider CourseSmart introduced CourseSmart Analytics, a feature that measures students’ engagement with digital course materials. At this year’s show, the company shared the results from an independent study suggesting that CourseSmart Analytics is an effective predictor of student success.

Based on a proprietary algorithm that evaluates usage data such as page views, time spent in a digital textbook, and notes taken by a student, the service assimilates this information into an assessment score that rates each student’s engagement with the material.

Reynol Junco, associate professor of library science at Purdue University, studied a pilot program designed to test the service among more than 3,700 students during the spring 2013 term.

“My analyses … show that the CourseSmart Engagement Index is a powerful predictor of student course grades, and that [it] can serve as an effective barometer to help faculty evaluate how students are performing in their courses,” Junco said.

Like CourseSmart, Dell also promoted its focus on “learning insights” that can help boost student success.


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