13 higher ed tech tools and approaches to watch in 2015

Higher education technology businesses can get lost in the weeds after their launch has passed and they’re no longer in the startup or seed funding mode. College administrators and their IT staffs can labor in relative anonymity as they try to improve their learning technology and approaches for students.

Sometimes recognition through awards, or top 10 or 20 lists, can supply just what a company needs for a marketing boost or what a college needs to shine a light on its progress.

For companies, a recent example was CIO Review’s 20 Most Promising Education Tech Solution Providers list. The listing include several interesting higher ed tech companies that have adapted software solutions used by other sectors for college and university clients. College education technology efforts, on the other hand, are recognized via outlets like the WOW higher ed technology awards, given out by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. There's also the e.Republic Center for Digital Education’s ninth annual Digital Community Colleges Survey, which recognizes the innovative use of technology.

Here are 13 ed tech tools and approaches from companies and institutions that you should keep on your radar due to their recent recognition.

Biometric Signature ID

Featured on the CIO Review top 20 list, Biometric Signature ID, provides student identity verification systems that colleges can use with their online courses to verify that quizzes and exams are being taken by registered students.The technology verifies a person’s identification by analyzing the way the user moves a mouse or finger to draw certain characters. The company has more than 3 million users and 90 clients in various industries, including education, including a consortium of six colleges in Kansas.

Capella University's FlexPath

Capella University won a WOW higher-ed technology award in recognition of the university’s FlexPath competency-based direct assessment degree program. It has been federally approved for business, information technology, and psychology programs.

Civitas Learning

Civitas Learning, named to the CIO Review list, creates applications used by colleges and universities to identify and help students who are struggling or at risk of failing. The company also provides predictive analytics that project student success rates and help higher ed institutions adjust their own programs. The company is considering expanding into K-12 and workforce development.

Colorado Technical University's Intellipath

Colorado Technical University won a WOW award for an adaptive learning platform it created, called Intellipath. The platform is used by students and faculty in courses for the university's business master’s degree program.


Ellucian, another company on the CIO Review list, provides software and services to higher ed institutions for student recruitment and retention, advising, enterprise resource planning, self-service student planning, and records management in admissions and academic offices. The company claims 2,400 education sector clients, including Purdue University, American University, Duke University, and Yale University.

Excelsior College's OWL

Excelsior College won a WOW award for its multi-media, online writing lab, OWL, which  helps students with the writing process, documentation, grammar, and avoiding plagiarism. According to a study, students using OWL boosted their final grades by 6.6 points, on average.

Hitachi ID Systems

Hitachi ID Systems helps higher ed institutions manage computer network security, and controlled access and IDs for campus administrators, staff, faculty, students, alumni, and other users. That includes access for individuals who sometimes identify with several different departments and use several different mobile devices to connect, as well as students whose access starts up and then ends within a relatively short period.


iDashboards makes customized higher education dashboard software to help college and university administrators gain better access to data points and better insight into key performance indicators. Those indicators include measurements of enrollment, retention, graduation rates, accreditation, educational effectiveness, transfers, workforce development, job placement of graduates, alumni giving, other fundraising, building maintenance, energy consumption, green initiatives, institutional research, financials, and other departmental metrics.

Johnson County Community College's Learning Studios

Johnson County Community College in Kansas won the large-college category of the e.Republic Center for Digital Education award. Instructors can use the college’s Learning Studios for technology-enhanced learning spaces, and the college has upgraded its network for better student access and increased survivability.


Respondus, a company on the CIO Magazine list, develops assessments to help educators prevent cheating during online exams. The company’s LockDown Browser application, which prevents students from accessing other apps or windows during an exam, is used by 800 universities and school districts on more than 20 million tests a year.


Skillsoft, another company on the CIO list, offers a cloud-based learning management system called Skillport, used by clients both in education and business. The company uses e-learning solutions, on-demand courses and online video, and its clients include the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's U-Pace

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee won a WOW for its U-Pace instructional approach. U-Pace uses a learning management system to link self-paced, mastery-based learning with “amplified assistance” from instructors in online courses.

Verificient Technologies

In the same vein, Verificient Technologies, another company on the magazine’s list, offers a proctor-less identification system, called Proctortrack, aimed at eradicating cheating on online tests. Proctortrack uses facial recognition technology, biometrics, and machine learning, making scans of the student’s face, knuckles, and ID, along with continuous monitoring of the user’s mouse, keyboard, monitor, browser, webcam, and microphone to make sure the student doesn’t use a substitute test taker or other resources to cheat.


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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology Online Learning
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