​5 Things Community College Administrators Wish Edtech Companies Would Do

Higher Education

​5 Things Community College Administrators Wish Edtech Companies Would Do

By Sydney Johnson     Jan 25, 2017

​5 Things Community College Administrators Wish Edtech Companies Would Do

This article is part of the guide: Community Colleges Point Toward New Directions in Digital Innovation.

If you could make an education technology wish list, what would it be? We asked community college administrators around the country what they think edtech CEOs and entrepreneurs should work on next. Here’s what we heard:

1. Tools need to be designed for community colleges

There’re a lot of edtech ideas and innovations out there, but little directly aimed at solving problems faced specifically by community colleges. There’s no one-size fits all tool, and administrators today say they wish they had more products designed for their particular type of institution. “So many edtech products are designed for the K-12 market, but we are a college; the needs aren't necessarily portable,” remarks Frederick Teti, educational technology chair at City College San Francisco.

Robert Denson, president of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa echoes Teti’s wish, but says edtech companies need to look beyond traditional higher-ed models and think about what kinds of problems two-year institutions and trade schools face. To the edtech CEOs out there, he advises, “understand that what works for a four-year university may not work the same for community colleges, and likely vice versa.”

2. Better tools for remote learners

Community colleges can expand their reach by offering online courses for remote and working students. But the opportunity to provide more online education has its own set of challenges that edtech has yet to solve. How do you keep students from cheating? How can you best provide feedback and support? How do you know when students are having trouble, and help them when they are?

“I am always looking for better ways for my students to take tests remotely,” says Teti, who currently has students download and print a file, complete it by hand, then scan and send the page when complete.

Michael Quiner, chief information officer at Linn–Benton Community College in Oregon, says in addition to improved testing, he wants to see better ways to act upon student performance. “It’s not just tracking. We need to engage students in the places they might be struggling,” he says. “If we could set up automatic communication with students based on how they are doing in a class, that would be really helpful.”

3. Help us navigate what’s out there

Edtech is not exempt from FOMO—the fear of missing out. When buying and vetting edtech products, many administrators wonder, “how do I know there’s not a better option out there?” Shannon McCarty, Dean of Instruction & Academic Affairs at Rio Salado College in Arizona, wishes there were an index of all the community college edtech tools (hint hint, wink wink) where administrators can survey their options and see how models have—or have not—worked elsewhere before investing in them.

“There are so many software options out there, but what we need is a repository to really be able to decipher and categorize what is available,” says McCarty. “It would be amazing to have a similar platform like Amazon and to have some interaction with other institutions about the product.”

4. Help schools know what they need before product implementation

Not all schools need more edtech options. Instead, there’s a growing need to provide community colleges with more support in initially finding their pain points and assessing how edtech can help alleviate those issues. All too often, says Community College Research Center assistant director Melinda Karp, edtech companies will try to make schools fit their products, rather than helping schools find the right tools or programs that meet their exact needs. But these companies should work with schools before they finalize a product choice, she says, to make sure it really addresses their needs.

“The most successful schools are the ones that spend a lot of time planning their redesign before they purchase a tool,” explains Karp. “If a vendor could figure out a way to really support colleges in their product diagnostic, that would be immensely beneficial.”

5. More on-site transition, installation and implementation support

Every school has its own unique edtech needs, but one thing that remains salient among administrators is the need for more support from edtech companies once a product has been chosen. That could come in the form of:

  • Additional training with faculty and administrators
  • More hands-on support from company representatives during implementation
  • Providing a better understanding of how a new product will integrate with or replace existing technology and platforms

“There are always issues we find after purchasing [an edtech product],” says Denson. “More on-site support during installation would help focus our implementation staff and reduce back and forth of product clarification.”

To keep this list growing and innovator gears going, we now turn the question to you: What five things do you with edtech companies would do for community colleges? Share your wishlist with us in the comments section below.

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