Tech Save

Wicked Awesome Ways Colleges are Using Technology

Luddites, beware! Some colleges are doing more than jump on the technology bandwagon – they’re driving it. From financial aid to the application process and beyond, forward-thinking schools are implementing technology across the college experience. And entrepreneurs are pioneering products that meet the demands of these forward-thinking schools.

Some school officials says it’s refreshing, some say unnecessary and others simply want to replicate it as fast as they can! Whatever your position on the merits of technology in higher ed, my bet is that you will be amazed at how schools and ed tech companies are innovating the postsecondary industry to a new level.

Caught on Camera: College Applicants

If Goucher College is looking for a sudden influx of applicants next year, I predict they won’t be disappointed. The Maryland-based school is targeting the millennial generation with a video application option. Prospective Goucher students are allowed to forgo submission of a traditional college application including transcript, letters of recommendation and standardized test scores in favor of a two-minute video.

In the video, which must be self-produced, students explain why they want to attend Goucher and how they see themselves thriving at the school. Goucher President Jose Bowen says, “High school students who might not have a laptop…might not have a way to write their essay. But they probably have a phone, and they understand how to use the phone to make a video.”

The Online Cheat Beat

ProctorU was created for students who want to take college exams in their PJs. Okay, I may be paraphrasing. According to founders Don Kassner and Jarrod Morgan, respectively former president and former chief technology officer of Andrew Jackson University, they thought of the product when a student asked Kassner why she had to drive to a test center to take the exam for her online course. He and Morgan have since built ProctorU, a company that provides proctoring services for 560 colleges, overseeing more than 50,000 exams per month.

So how does ProctorU guarantee students aren’t cheating on exams? A ProctorU employee views a test taker by webcam and can also look at the user’s screen to monitor for cheating. This live proctor gives the exam monitoring company an additional layer of security over other companies that may use robotics or other devices to give online exams.

 Digital and Dynamic Award Letters

CampusLogic and its new product AwardLetter are teaming up with schools across the country to revolutionize the financial aid process. Many postsecondary schools strive to help students lower unnecessary borrowing amounts (three cheers!). CampusLogic clients use AwardLetter to digitize their award letters so that students may view them on any device – such as those smartphones they never leave the house without. With AwardLetter, schools can better inform and educate students on responsible borrowing by creating an interactive award letter featuring online references and video tutorials. Advanced analytics track letter receipts to prevent “lost” award letters ensuring enrollments aren’t lost during the financial aid process.

With the constant barrage of compelling and animated content vying for their attention, it’s no surprise that young people’s eyes glaze over when they are asked to review plain text paperwork. AwardLetter helps schools compete for (and win) student’s full attention – a feat that can only have positive repercussions for the student, the school and the nationwide student debt crisis.

Double Down

Approximately 7.3 million students were expected to attend two-year schools in the 2014-15 year. A number of those students will transfer to four-year universities before or after completing their associate’s degree. For some, miscommunication or misinformation will delay or prevent the transfer. The process of transferring from a community to four-year college may be complex, but it shouldn’t be impossible. Enter Transfer Bootcamp, a free online service that helps community college students build a transfer plan that guides students to the classes they must take to be a competitive transfer applicant at any school.

Data Download

Share your observations and opinions on college technology in the comments. What new tech has your campus employed? What has improved as a result?