Ryan Petersen is Editor in Chief of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education.

Jan 08 2010

Colleges Go Global, and IT Plays an Important Role

Technology is the platform for education to expand.

Colleges go global, and IT plays an important role.

The scope of education is expanding all the time, and a main driver of that expansion continues to be technology. Now more colleges and universities are utilizing video conferencing, telepresence and distance learning technology to increase their educational services for students and staff, both on campus and abroad.

More than 4,000 miles separate St. Louis, Mo., from Madrid, Spain. But that distance is a minor obstacle for Saint Louis University, which has established a campus in Spain's capital. High-end video conferencing equipment allows staff at both campuses to regularly have “face-to-face” meetings. In addition, the Madrid campus uses the same applications used in St. Louis, which provides standardization and eases systems management.

“Substantially improved video quality, coupled with ease of use, truly permits collaboration and content sharing – whether it's documents and spreadsheets or notes written on a whiteboard,” says Robert Mason, principal research analyst for Gartner.

At Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, telepresence has become an important component of the institution's distance education initiative. When the university opened a facility in Indianapolis last year, the staff wanted to ensure that communication would not be an issue. Telepresence has kept communication between the two campuses strong, and the lifelike experience allows Indianapolis faculty members to fully participate in meetings and projects with those at the main campus without making the six-hour round trip.

In fact, Franklin University's telepresence solution works so well that the school plans to utilize the system when it opens six outposts throughout the world within the next five years. For more information about how institutions are expanding their global reach, read "Going Global."

Video conferencing options are working not only for campus administration, but in the classroom, as well. Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, uses distance learning to meet the rising demands of students who need access to lectures and notes outside regular classroom hours and without traveling to and from campus.

“For universities that have had a role as a regional institution in the past, technology offers the key to the future,” says Dr. Paula Nichols, executive director of Lamar University's division of distance learning. “Those that are located in a region that does not have projected population growth must reach out to other geographical areas, both with recruitment efforts and online education.

“Through online programs, Lamar has extended access to its programs throughout the state in recent years,” she continues. “The technology infrastructure has provided the basis for the delivery of these programs and allowed Lamar to provide accessibility to higher education throughout Texas.”

For more on how colleges use distance learning to maintain high availability for students and staff, read "Compulsory Technology."

Food for Your Digital Appetite

If you spend a good portion of your day sitting in front of a desktop computer, toting your notebook or netbook to meetings, or checking your handheld device for updated information, you realize how important the digital world is for gathering information and acting upon it.

Our EdTech staff realizes the importance of accessibility, too. So, in addition to the print and online versions of EdTech, you can now receive more content via e-mail in the form of our e-newsletters. These will provide examples of how IT leaders are using technology at their institutions, best practices from experts in the field, white papers and more. To subscribe to the e-newsletters, please visit Edtechmag.com/higher.

And if your news gathering and research includes Twitter, make sure to check out @EdTech_HiEd (twitter.com/edtech_HiEd) for the latest case studies, product reviews and other online news.

We hope this content provides useful information to help you make important IT decisions within your institution.


Ryan Petersen,
Editor in Chief

<p>Matthew Gilson</p>