Oct 27 2014

Colleges Innovating with Tech Stores

Universities are staying innovative, rolling out tech stores, deploying cloud-based SaaS apps and focusing on mobility.

Colleges and universities are at their best when they are springboards for innovation. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft had their early origins on college campuses.

That spirit of colleges inventing the future remains alive and well on campus today. In this edition, we lead off by focusing on how colleges are getting new technology into students' hands and encouraging them to experiment with the tools.

At the University of ­Oklahoma, ­students and faculty can visit the One University Store to learn about the latest in computers, software and tech gadgets and experiment with 103-inch televisions, Google Glass and 3D printers.

"We don't want it to be like a big museum where you can't touch anything," says David Goodspeed, the university's director of innovation, creativity and marketing for campus stores. "We want people to roam around and play with things and use the technology any way they want." For more, read Innovative Engagement.

Mobility First

Mobility was at the root of Cuyahoga Community College's decision to deploy Microsoft's cloud-based Exchange 2010 Online. Cloud applications such as Exchange Online often have built-in mobile access or can be reached easily through a web browser, says Elizabeth Herbert, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research: "That's huge in education." To learn how Tri-C leveraged the cloud to improve access for its campus community, read our latest article on campus clouds.

The University of Texas at San Antonio has taken it a step further, moving forward with a mobile-first policy. The university plans to move off its self-service portal in favor of a mobile platform that lets students check account balances and course schedules, read campus news and look up telephone numbers — all on their mobile devices. For the details on UTSA's mobility program, read Mobile First.

So whether it's creating innovative tech spaces, deploying cloud-based apps or going mobile-first, colleges know that to attract and retain quality students today, they must keep innovating. After all, nobody knows where the next Google, Facebook or ­Microsoft will emerge.

J. Kyle Keener