Tools of the Trade | March / April 2017

Organizations offer messaging services for educational users, tools that help schools evaluate online programs, and a new storytelling platform for international services.

Merit, an online platform where higher education institutions can share stories of student successes with stakeholders, has launched a new messaging feature specifically for U.S. legislators. The service already allowed participating institutions to send notifications of their students’ accomplishments to elected officials in each student’s home state. The new feature now allows legislators and their staff to easily send messages of congratulations to those students, via the platform, for their scholar­ships and awards, inductions into honor societies, study abroad, and participation in campus activi­ties. Students can opt to display those messages on their personal Merit pages. Each legislator with a free Merit account receives a weekly email digest of stories that showcase students from his or her district. Last fall, legislators in more than 40 states were notified of the achievements of more than 47,000 students. Visit

The Online Learning Consortium has expanded its Quality Scorecard suite of tools designed to help higher ed institutions evaluate the effectiveness of online and blended programs. The suite features three new scorecards that can be used to review the quality of course design, digital teaching, and digital courseware. These augment two original tools that can be used to measure the quality of blended learning programs and the administration of online programs. Visit

StudyAdvantage Group has launched a storytell­ing platform for international students considering studying abroad. It features stories from more than 50 student bloggers at schools such as Yale, Columbia, MIT, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and SciencesPo. The blogs are complemented by the StudyAdvantage online magazine, a university database, and application guides designed for international applicants. Visit