Effectively Communicating

Finding the right technology to connect to the right students. 

GUEST COLUMN | by Teege Mettille

CREDIT Northland CollegeAt Northland College, a small private liberal arts college along the south shore of Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin, we have the unique mission of combining the liberal arts with a focus on issues of the environment and sustainability. Our 600 students come from communities throughout the United States and around the world. Because we are a small school with a unique mission and approach to higher education, we must do a good job of communicating who we are. At the same time we need to attract the students who are well matched to our college. To confront this challenge, we needed a partner with an honest approach that would work well to connect students with colleges that would be a good match; one that doesn’t just send us lists of names, but would work closely with us to get our message in front of the right student at the right time.

Many colleges are combining innovative education delivery models with equally innovative recruiting practices.

If they had the direct experience of working with colleges and they knew how to reach out to students we might otherwise have missed, that would be the partner we would want. That would be a tremendous advantage. In addition, if they helped us remain connected with our best potential leads throughout the recruiting process, that would also be desired. Their involvement with us would mean that our efforts are less resource-intensive and more personal for each student. The result would be an increased ability to meet our admissions goals.

The Ideal Partner

A partner that brings a team of experts with specific knowledge and expertise in each phase of the process would be an ideal partner. We would want professionals with in-depth knowledge of admissions processes and a wide range of skills relevant to our needs – everything from social media to on the ground knowledge of the state of Wisconsin and what it has to offer students. In these days of social media and mobile devices, one should be able to go to a team with questions about pretty much anything and get a good perspective on how best to proceed.

A partner offering a strong tool would be one focused on connecting students who are truly interested in what we have to offer. If every student who fills out a profile is doing so for the express purpose of providing our school with information about themselves, then there is great benefit to us in seeing what they are actually interested in, who they are, and why they are considering our school. It is a vastly better way of getting accurate information, instead of just looking on their Facebook account. In fact, we were lucky enough to have found exactly that kind of partner in Chegg Enrollment Services.

Changing Nature of Admissions

The 
emergence of “for
-profit” colleges has
 changed the nature of the admissions process. Many colleges are combining innovative education delivery models with equally innovative recruiting practices. Colleges in general have to be mindful of how they try to attract students in this highly competitive environment. Working with a trusted partner, I have the confidence that our recruiting practices will be ethical and effective, and will reflect accurately our focus on embracing innovative education delivery models.

A partner that can really nail the customer support and relationship end of things is a particular plus. Working with a team so diverse in interests and talents makes it easier to connect with admissions administrators and potential students. And it also helps if they are a pleasure to work, but these days, a partner always on the edge of innovation in what they do to ensure effective communication — is a vital requirement that cannot be ignored.

Teege Mettille is Executive Director of Admissions at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. Write to: tmettile@northland.edu

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Trends | For Educators (from Apple)

CREDIT For Educators from AppleAn FYI that Apple has released a cool new “For Educators” page designed to be a good first place to look for apps, books, courses and collections of interest to professionals in the field of education. The education resource brings together content from iTunes U, the App Store and iBooks Store to help educators in their professional practice – highlighting lesson ideas, activities, sample courses, success stories, professional development materials, and links to curriculum by level and subject. Inspiring lesson ideas, teacher’s start kits, apps for teachers, books for educators, using apps in the classroom, teaching with iPad, content creation in the classroom, courses aligned to standards and success stories are all part of a rich mix of resources presented in an easily accessible way. Check it out on iTunes: itunes.com/ForEducators

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Cool Tool | Personalized Print Learning Solutions 

CREDIT HP and KnewtonHP and Knewton, a leader in adaptive learning, have partnered to develop Personalized Print Learning Solutions, a first-of-its-kind product that will make adaptive learning technology available for print-only K-12 and college classrooms through a smartphone app. Personalized Print Learning Solutions will allow publishers to create unique printed chapters of textbooks, worksheets, and assignments for each student so that educators can assign tailored content for everyone. Using HP Link technology, they’ll scan work and submit it to Knewton via smartphone app. Knewton’s predictive analytics engine will analyze the work and determine a strategy based on previous work and the anonymized data of similar students. Knewton will assemble an individualized content packet in real time for each student. “People have always assumed it was impossible to individually personalize printed education materials,” says Knewton founder and CEO Jose Ferreira. “With our new HP collaboration, we are delighted to show the world that print materials can have just as much adaptive power as digital content.” Currently under development for release during the 2015-2016 school year, learn more at http://www.knewton.com/

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Trends | Technology Security by Design

CREDIT ISTE Securing the Connected ClassroomEducators, lawmakers, and virtually everyone else concerned with young people’s security have wrestled with how to make best use of educational hardware and software while maintaining a safe and secure environment since schools began connecting to the Internet. However, each community is unique and requires a unique solution. A new book, Securing the Connected Classroom: Technology Planning to Keep Students Safe, by Abbie Brown and Tim Green, and published by ISTE, discusses blocks, filters and other imposed security measures — but the focus is on the process of threat assessment, response development and consensus building. Abbie Brown is a professor in the instructional technology program at East Carolina University. Tim Green, a former K-12 teacher, is a professor of educational technology and a teacher educator at California State University, Fullerton. “Throwing up walls does not usually work; we know students are quick to find ways around barriers,” says Brown. “We believe that a school community’s efforts should focus on fostering digital citizenship, awareness and understanding,” Green adds. The key to creating a secure environment for learning with technology is extending the responsibility to all stakeholders in the school community, they say; students, parents, teachers, administrators and staff. “It takes real effort to assess security threats and develop appropriate responses. Making that effort helps to create a safer and more productive learning environment,” Green says. Read more here.

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Closer Collaboration

Building an edtech bridge between Europe and the US.

GUEST COLUMN | by Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet

CREDIT EdTech EuropeThe education and training industries worldwide account for spending of more than $4 trillion, with these costs representing a staggering 84 percent increase since 2000. However, despite rising expenditures, there is a poorly perceived link between spending and related educational performance, as demonstrated by the stagnant reading and math scores in countries like the US.

With 85% of every dollar spent on the costs of physical institutions and teaching staff, there is an evident opportunity for education technology practices to transform the way in which the education industry has traditionally been resourced, taught and consumed.

To help foster this ecosystem, we believe that the opportunities and investment trends need to be more clearly articulated to a wider audience. 

The opportunity is clear. By reducing the price tag associated with the traditional delivery of education, while simultaneously improving and democratising standards, the EdTech industry has an enormous opportunity to capitalise on inherent inefficiencies. The media industry was disrupted through digitisation — from the profusion of new content, audience fragmentation and data centricity to the convergence between content and platform players. These same transformative factors will impact education in identical ways; inevitably leading to massive growth. After all, both industries are all about delivering compelling content and engaging audiences. The growth potential for digital education is therefore significant; especially when considering that it currently represents only 2 percent of the total education market, in comparison to the 30-40 percent share of digital in media.

This possibility is reflected in the predicted 17 percent e-Learning growth rate each year from now until 2017. But just as we want our own educational establishments to foster and encourage potential in students, we as an industry need to actively cooperate to create a fertile ecosystem for the development of EdTech innovation and talent. This collaboration was the central idea behind the creation of the EdTech Europe event three years ago, and one that we have extended this year to encompass our partnership with SXSWedu. Our relationship with the dynamic SXSWedu community bridges the gap between the US and European EdTech markets and champions the dissemination of talent and consolidation of investment in the growing sector.

Indeed, as the two largest markets for education globally, we see closer European-US collaboration as being fundamental to the continued proliferation of a healthy EdTech industry. Some of the key trends set to impact the investment landscape over the coming years are ones that can be applied on both sides of the Atlantic, if not globally.

As demonstrated through a 2014 Pearson study, an international comparison of global education systems puts the United States as 14 out of 20, with 7 European countries, such as Finland, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Poland, ranking higher than their American counterpart. Despite this European achievement, the United States excels with their unified common core standards, whereas the European education system is fundamentally fragmented with over 20 curriculums. Moreover, the US also leads the way with 60% of global e-Learning venture investments, which is an additional way that the European EdTech marketplace can learn from its transatlantic neighbour.

To help foster this ecosystem, we believe that the opportunities and investment trends need to be more clearly articulated to a wider audience. Established professional learning and education players, unconventional innovators and institutional investors need to share ideas and work together, acting as a catalyst for the consolidation and investment required in the sector. Only then will see the true potential of the EdTech industry start to emerge, and we will begin to witness the radical transformation of the digitisation process on education as we know it.

Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet is Co-Founder of EdTech Europe and an SXSW LAUNCHedu advisory board member. He previously wrote about The Digitalisation of Education for EdTech Digest.

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