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5 Tech-Powered Practices for Boosting Retention

Community college enrollments are higher than ever, which has only intensified the struggle to keep and graduate students. Throw in a major economic recession and you have college leaders rethinking their graduation toolkits-- and putting technology at the forefront of their efforts.

5 Tech-Powered Practices for Boosting Retention THE AMERICAN GRADUATION INITIATIVE-- the Obama administration's program to "strengthen the nation's community colleges" with a proposed injection of $12 billion over the next decade-- reflects both the role community colleges have played in our country's history, and the vital role they are destined to play in its future.

Two-year colleges-- whether they're called community, junior, or technical-- are uniquely American higher education institutions, born to serve a diverse nation at the local level by offering advanced educational opportunity to any student who possesses a high school degree. Part of their mission has always been to provide this country's marginalized or forgotten citizens (immigrants, women, African Americans, war veterans, to name just a few) with a path toward financial self-sufficiency by being responsive to the economic realities of the time.

Today, in addition to their traditional student base, community colleges are taking on many of the nation's newly unemployed, as the country tries to redefine its place in a 21st century global economy. At the same time, they are struggling with graduation rates that hover around 50 percent. These institutions seek ways to ensure students stay in school and graduate with meaningful degrees that gain them entry into four-year institutions or lead them to skilled jobs in an uncertain marketplace.

This special issue of Campus Technology focuses on the strategic use of technology in five key retention practices that are part of a larger vision to make community colleges more responsive to today's students' needs: providing targeted learning support to students who need it most; using data to identify students at risk of dropping out; creating learning communities for a diverse and dispersed student population; modernizing facilities to meet new curriculum demands; and creating corporate-college partnerships for jobs training that teaches morethan narrow skill sets.

Technology has a critical role to play in the retooling of community colleges. Here's a look at just a few ways it is making a difference:

1) Support for Learners

2) Data-Driven Retention Strategies

3) Learning Communities

4) Modernizing Facilities

5) Corporate-College Partnerships

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