NEXT: Five Minutes with Jennifer Galt

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Wed,08/31/2016-10:34

From an early age, Jennifer Galt discovered a love of retail and working with people. Now General Manager of the University of Delaware bookstore, Galt still infuses her role with dedication, passionate enthusiasm, and a definite sense of fun. During the summer break on campus, she spent some time with us to explain why Barnes & Noble College can help tackle some of the bigger problems facing education, why you’ll always find her where her staff is, and what’s most likely to be on the cover of her favorite summer reading.

What was your first job?

As soon as I turned sixteen I found work at a small grocery store in a college town. In three months, they made me Closing Supervisor, handling the money and making sure everything was done for the day. That was a little overwhelming at first, but that’s also when I realized how much I really love working with people. I kept that job all through high school and college breaks  I was just a kid managing college kids. I guess in that sense, I still am!

How do you describe your current role at Barnes & Noble College?

Although I’m employed by Barnes & Noble College, I also work for the University, so my job as General Manager is to really ensure that my store and my staff are essential to the fabric of the campus.

What are you working on right now?

Well, we’re in the middle of Rush, so all the preparation to ensure back to school goes smoothly has been working. This summer, I also helped out getting our new Georgetown University store ready. Pretty high on my to-do list, though, is developing a UD True Spirit fan site, it’s going to be a huge opportunity for our school! [Editor’s note: True Spirit fan sites are alumni and athletics focused virtual stores that specifically speak to the alumni sports fan.]

How would you describe your campus and its students?

We’re a college of 20,000 students, but it still feels like home. The class sizes are small, and people care about each other. We’re also a state campus, and I see that reflected in our student booksellers— they want to work, want to be involved, and that speaks to the whole attitude of the student body. It just feels like home when you come to the campus.

In your view, what’s the biggest challenge facing education today?

Cost, retention and student debt are on the minds of administration, faculty, parents and students, and I really do believe we offer a solution for that, through the kinds of savings our rental program provide. We also offer great career opportunities though our Best Seller Program, and through the resources we’ve put together in our Career Now initiative. To me, a program like Career Now just makes so much sense; partnering with career services, helping with resumes and mock interviews to better prepare our students for work and a life after college.

Why, in your view, is Barnes & Noble College such a great campus partner?

I think the best way I can answer that is recalling one Move-In Weekend. I found a parent in the store who was just not ready to go home yet after leaving her child for the first time. We talked for a while and I was able to reassure her that the bookstore was just one of the resources available to support her child throughout her college life. I think examples like that speak to our sense of community and our very personal connection to the campus. We’re also an organization run by students. Our students can explain the benefits of renting their textbooks from their own experiences. They know what Move-In Weekend means, or what it’s like during finals week. You’re never going to get those kinds of personal questions answered online.

Where do you think the biggest opportunity lies for Barnes & Noble College for the future?

First Day Solutions. I have a freshmen level class of over 450 students involved in a First Day Solutions program with 12 faculty members who love the fact that they can really advance their class and assign homework from day one—just sign into your LMS and you’re ready to go. The textbook isn’t dead, but the idea of a custom book with a digital component, that can be homework or be lab orientatednow that’s exciting.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current role?

I would work for the Chamber of Commerce, working with businesses in a college town. Either that or flip houses. Or open a bakery —on a beach!

What is your favorite part of the bookstore?

With my staff—anywhere they are!

What’s a characteristic you find most prevalent in Barnes & Noble College people?

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NEXT: LoudCloud - The Big Opportunity in Data Analytics

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Wed,08/17/2016-14:10

If knowledge is power, as Francis Bacon suggested, its supporting partner would undoubtedly be information. The kind of information that, in today’s world, can connect complex reams of disparate and often isolated data, and can help support better decision making and better outcomes. This is the promise of data analytics and, with its ability to capture behavioral information and provide the ability to manage and act on that data, it’s becoming of increasing interest to the world of education. With proven value in the fields of finance, research and in a thousand online applications, what might a marriage of analysis and academia look like? And what are the opportunities for colleges and universities to use data to secure better outcomes for students and further empower faculty?



Someone who understands many of these questions posed is Manoj Kutty, Vice President and Managing Director of Sales & Client Service for Barnes & Noble Education LoudCloud. “Before we begin any process with a client, we’re going to want to recognize what that school is trying to achieve with this better understanding of data,” he says. With its LoudSight Analytics solution, LoudCloud is able to provide clients with real-time predictive and performance based models to identify at-risk students from the first day of class, all integrated with the school’s existing applications.


Representing a key part of the total support solution Barnes & Noble College is offering to its campus partners, LoudCloud’s addition to the Barnes & Noble Education family is well-timed, considering the mounting pressures schools continue to face to increase enrollment and retention and ensure improved student outcomes. In his introduction to a recent webinar, “How Analytics Can Drive Student Success,” hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Kutty underscored the point. He quoted the Center for National Education Statistics in their findings that of the full-time students who enrolled in 2008 seeking a four-year bachelor’s degree, only 60 percent completed their programs, and at some schools, the success rate was as low as 36 percent.


Could better student outcomes be achieved through a better understanding of available data? During the webinar, panelist and LoudCloud client, Joe Mildenhall, CIO at Grand Canyon University, thought so. “For Grand Canyon, like most institutions, the primary driver was increasing our focus around just how do we help students to be successful and provide them with the support they need,” he said.


Mildenhall pointed out that the required information is already available, with schools gathering increasing amounts of often siloed data from everything from student information systems, the LMS, and even data from the school’s housing systems. “But the real power comes from combining that information. Pulling it together into an analytics platform is where we really start to develop the power to study, understand and take actions for our students,” he added.



While Kutty admits that many schools are in the early stages of thinking about how they might adopt an analytics solution, the advantages were measurable. He suggests a “crawl, walk, jog, run” approach when it comes to understanding the analytics lifecycle. “Crawling” is just that—moving slowly toward just pulling all relevant data together, according to Kutty. “Walking,” he says, is your first opportunity to see if your reporting capabilities deliver the insights that will guide your school to success. And, finally, he adds, once you’re able to “jog,” that means you’re able to better predict—ensuring that your “run” phase empowers you to take the actions needed to effectively impact student outcomes.


The panel of speakers at The Chronicle of Higher Education webinar explained that strong data-based learning analytics solutions had enabled faculty and administrators to proactively identify, understand, and act on student behavior and performance, empowering at-risk students at the right time, to achieve greater success. “Using fairly rudimentary data points gave us the opportunity to intervene with students we believe might be highly at risk, as early as the first two weeks of their program,” stated David Vaillencourt, Chief Academic Officer at the College of Medical Professions. He claimed that kind of early support for online programs helped boost successful matriculation by 5 percent, and in one program by 10 percent.


There are, of course, challenges. Many schools face an uphill climb in trying to integrate disconnected systems and pull the data into a comprehensive real-time view of the student that could then be used to produce meaningful analytics. There are also other concerns, such as the mining of data, particularly on student completion rates, in an ethical manner. “We do that in a respectful way,” explained Dave Johnson, PhD, Director of Research and Analytics at Colorado State University. “We’re in close contact with our IRB board on data security, and we’re keenly interested in the ethics of data. We want to look out for our students and make sure they have the right concerns about privacy, coupled with providing speaking events with students and faculty to discuss those issues,” he said.


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NEXT: Home and Away, Today’s Students Just Aren’t the Same

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Tue,08/09/2016-10:21

The traditional portrait of the average college student as an 18 to 22 year-old attending classes on their college campus is fast being replaced by a radically different student population. When it comes to defining the new normal in student demographics, the collective term is ‘nontraditional student,’ describing learners who might be juggling higher education with a full or part-time job, or those looking to retrain between careers, pick up their education after active service in the military, or those with responsibilities of managing children or other dependents.


Increasingly, nontraditional students may even graduate without ever having set foot on their college campus. Research from the Learning House and Aslanian Market Research reveals that in 2014, nearly 3.4 million college students — representing nearly 17 percent of all college students — participated in online learning programs, predicting a growth that’s estimated to include a quarter of all college enrollments by 2020. Catering to this new body of students, who are anything but homogenous, is just the latest challenge college administrators and admissions staff must tackle to ensure the success of their institutions. But with any challenge comes, of course, opportunity and the chance for colleges to increase the reach and appeal of their campus.



Overwhelmingly, this new generation of disparate college students requires close communication with their school campus, and that communication can’t start too soon according to Lisa Malat, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Barnes & Noble College. “The most important way colleges can serve these students is to develop an initial connection by educating them about what you offer — then, do it often,” she said in a recent interview with The College Store Magazine.


A key part of that outreach can come from the campus bookstore, and Malat points out that Barnes & Noble College managed bookstores reach out to freshmen as soon as they receive their acceptance letters, and that by developing targeted and relevant messaging early, schools can help build loyalty and trust with the nontraditional student segment who may feel outside of the general college population. In a recent Barnes & Noble College survey, 48 percent of students polled said they took some kind of online orientation upon enrollment, and Malat sees these kinds of opportunities for bookstores to closely collaborate with their campus as a way to offer greater outreach potential.


Larry Gal, who manages the campus bookstore at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) would be the first to agree. “There’s a significant opportunity within Registration Integration, for example, in that as soon as a student registers for classes, they will be connected to the bookstore website and see all of the different ways we can support their learning material options,” he says. Gal is also exploring other opportunities, such as utilizing the LMS as a way of connecting with distance learning students. The SCSU Bookstore currently generates 30 percent of its revenue from its web business, and Gal sees that only expanding as the school extends their courses to appeal to nontraditional students, “We can ship any kind of product to you, whether that’s a textbook or an access code — and that convenience can be important for someone who may come on campus only once or twice a month,” he explains.


Gal also believes this kind of support is crucial to help counter the kind of course attrition that can often plague distance learning programs. “While the university is expanding, and we’re seeing great enrollments for these kinds of programs, we have experienced some dipping in the sophomore year,” he says. “One way to help these students more effectively manage and stay with their courses is to make the whole process more convenient for them — including easily obtaining their course materials.”



Nontraditional students are increasingly going to represent the future for traditional brick-and-mortar colleges, yet they bring with them some particular challenges. For example, they may not be able to regularly attend lectures or conform to scheduled lesson hours — and the simple logistics of trying to find campus parking or a place to study can sometimes be problematic.


To gain a better understanding of the experiences and needs of this unique demographic, this fall, Barnes & Noble College will be releasing its nontraditional student report, which will include research findings on student barriers to success, understanding expectations, identifying services and assistance needed to ensure success, and understanding priorities and differences between different types of nontraditional students. “As student demographics continue to shift, we felt it was critical to gain a better understanding of this particular student population,” said Malat. “These findings will help define and compare educational paths between traditional and nontraditional students, and will also be helpful to college and university administrators, and the higher education industry to improve success for nontraditional students.”


Though the new student body might be different than our conventional idea of the typical college student, they are united in their desire for a sense of connection with their campus and the bookstore is increasingly becoming a focal point for that connection. “This is a different ...continue »

NEXT: Supporting Textbook Affordability and Access on Campus

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Tue,08/02/2016-12:05

Traditionally occupying separate roles in the learning supply chain, Barnes & Noble College and several of the publishers it partners with are working together in a number of new initiatives to help solve two of the biggest problems facing higher education today; affordability and accessibility. “It’s an initiative that comes from the realization that we’re two parts of an important solution for our customers,” says Barnes & Noble College’s Director of Digital Education, Nicole Guerrieri, “and it presents us with some really interesting opportunities to work together.”


No strangers to the corridors and offices of campus, publisher’s reps have long sought out the kind of community Barnes & Noble College enjoys with educators, having enrolled over 240,000 faculty members to FacultyEnlight, its online textbook adoption platform — many embedding the platform with a single sign-on directly from their LMS.



The synergy of publishers and bookstores working together was something Amber Clark appreciated in her former role as Textbook Manager at Liberty University, and after making the move to manage the Longwood University Bookstore, was something she knew could benefit her new campus. “I think the more we develop our relationships with our publishing reps, the more we’re going to help our schools keep more textbook revenue on campus,” she says.


Longwood University publishers' event


Issues arising from textbooks being unavailable at the start of the semester or difficulties in accommodating last minute changes in course materials, Clark says, most often come from a lack of understanding about how publishers and bookstores work together. “It just makes sense to put publishing reps in the same room as our professors and start facilitating those conversations,” she explains.


Clark scheduled her first forum for the spring semester, when professors are most likely to consider making changes and choosing their course materials for the coming academic year. Close to 90 Longwood University faculty members attended the event, which was presented as an informal networking meet-and-greet opportunity and an invitation to enjoy some food, refreshments and learn more about the textbook adoption process. “It was really an opportunity to show the faculty that we have an open relationship with our publishers, and that we, as a team, can meet their needs for the upcoming semester by working together,” Clark says.


Events like the one at Longwood University are being replicated at several other bookstores across the country and mark a renewed collaboration with publishers. Barnes & Noble College is currently working on giving bookstores, in the future, the ability to offer faculty access to new adaptive learning materials from publishers that have not previously been available on FacultyEnlight. The inclusion of these kinds of new learning opportunities, including custom and interactive course materials, alongside traditional textbooks, will eventually offer faculty broader choices in lesson support materials in a convenient single-source platform. “These kinds of partnerships are ultimately aimed at building student success,” Guerrieri notes. “Not only will it offer the advantage of providing more lesson support options for our faculty, but it’s also another opportunity to help better prepare students for their classes,” she says.


Longwood Bookstore and Publishers Event



At Longwood University, Clark is already seeing the beginning of smoother Rushes, as professors appreciate the importance of turning in their textbook adoptions early. She believes that finding better solutions for the campus is a big part of Longwood’s expectations of the bookstore, and initiatives like the event held with her publishing reps can help to meet the school’s goal for student success with improved access and affordability of learning materials. “All of that can come from just an open and honest conversation with everyone involved,” Clark says. “And if the end result is that faculty can benefit from a wider choice of learning materials, students can be assured of the best prices — and our campus partners can have all of that fulfilled by their own bookstore. I just honestly can’t think of a more effective use of our time.”


Article reposted from Barnes and Noble College NEXT.

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