Mar 12 2018

3 Ways Community Colleges Leverage Tech Successfully

Thoughtful uses of technology allow small schools to support students.

Simply giving community college students a laptop doesn't ensure them success.

Research by Robert Fairlie, an economics professor from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Peter Bahr, an associate education professor at the University of Michigan, found that giving students access to computers has little impact on their college success or future employment, Campus Technology reports.

However, when colleges look for more thoughtful ways to use technology, they can boost student success and provide innovative educational experiences that matter.

Here are three examples of community colleges effectively leveraging technology:

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1. Innovative Tech Boosts Educational Opportunities

For Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Virginia, technology has empowered leaders to give students a high-quality education on par with a university.

"There's a stigma: the idea that community college is Plan B," says Richie Crim, Lord Fairfax's CIO, in an EdTech article. "The way we get past that stigma is to try to match or beat what a four-year institution would have. We have laser cutters and engravers, 3D printers, robotics — anything you can think of."

Rather than planning out technology for the next five years, Crim tells EdTech that Lord Fairfax CC remains adaptable to make sure each classroom is offering students the best education.

2. Mobile Tech Inclusion Meets Students' Needs

Leaders at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Penn., found that many of their students expect to be able to do everything from their mobile phones, so they developed a mobile-first strategy for educational software and student services.

"When we buy software now, we ensure that it's mobile ready," Celeste Schwartz, MCCC's VP for information technology and college services, says in an EdTech article. "We're in the process right now of a major redesign of the college website, and it's a very important initiative for us to have a mobile-first design."

3. Meeting Wi-Fi Demands Keeps Students Around

Ubiquitous Wi-Fi is used to make campus more welcoming for students at Lord Fairfax Community College. To do this, IT staff made sure there is 100 percent in-building coverage.

"We want students to enjoy their experience here," says Crim in the EdTech article. "They'll come in and pull up a game or watch a Netflix movie between classes. They'll socialize with friends on social media. If they leave campus because they can't do those things, then the experience for them is less than what we want to offer them. We want them to be on campus. We want them hanging out in our student lounges. We want them utilizing the services that they're paying for."

IT staff at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota, constantly monitors wireless equipment and replaces infrastructure every four years, EdTech reports. Generally, they are successful at meeting their students' needs and then some.

"Students don't see slowness on the network," Dennis Heller, director of IT, tells EdTech. "We're using anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of our total bandwidth when we peak out."

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