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Colleges Transform Learning by Embracing Innovative Technology



By Chris Hassan
Posted November 19, 2012 11:00 AM

Technology allows class lectures and other material to go digital.
Technology allows class lectures and other material to go digital.
As more colleges and universities embrace technology, the higher education landscape continues to evolve. Recent years have seen online learning grow in popularity, with massive open online courses, or MOOCs, gaining more attention with each passing day. For individuals around the world, MOOCs from institutions like Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provide them with an opportunity to take web-based courses from renowned schools, free of charge.

Donn Davis, the co-founder of Revolution Growth, a firm that invests in and expands technology-driven companies, believes MOOCs and other forms of innovation are good. He also views higher education's core mission as providing a great education and overall experience to those who are paying tuition. For this reason, Davis sits on the board of directors for Echo360, the producer of an active learning platform that provides students and educators with blended learning and lecture capture solutions.

Echo360's Impact on Learning

According to Echo360's website, more than 1 million students in 6,000 classrooms are taking advantage of the learning solutions provided by this platform. Among them is an institution's ability to record lectures provided by its professors and allow students to view them at a later date on any device - a process Davis likens to TiVo for the classroom.

"Students right now are paying $20,000 a year and they can more easily watch the TV show 'Psych' on their iPad than they can watch a lecture for psychology 101 on their iPad," Davis said.

Whether students cannot make it to class due to sickness, weather, work or other obligations, Davis said Echo360's learning tools allow them to overcome almost all barriers standing between them and their education.

Colleges and Universities Face a Technological Future

Davis said that academic institutions are just now starting to ask how they can better service their tuition-paying students through new technology. He believes that in the not-too-distant future, companies like Echo360 will play a greater role in how successful schools provide instruction.

"Five years from now, what you'll see is the universities partnering with companies like Echo360 or other digital innovative companies to make the teaching and learning moment better, different and more effective," Davis said. "The universities and colleges that embrace the digital opportunity are going to be way better off than they are today. The colleges and universities that do not embrace the digital opportunity will fall behind."

While free MOOCs may dominate higher education news from time to time, Davis wants the millions of college students paying to pursue bachelor's degrees and other credentials to know they have not been forgotten.

"There's 20 million students on campus paying tuition today in the U.S. and 100 million students on campus paying tuition worldwide," Davis said. "The question is, 'What innovations are happening for them?' Echo360 was a great company to start with in terms of offering products and services to kind of digitize the classroom and offer the products and services to the 20,000 university customers who want to evolve that learning moment and experience using digital technologies."

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