Those working in higher ed are familiar with the impact new tech developments have on an institution. For those who have attended multiple Educause conferences, the way tech can shape the space at large is even more evident. So what will 2015 hold for higher ed when it comes to tech?
With 2015 now a week under way and higher ed set to begin its winter/spring semesters, we reached out to four CIOs to get their opinions on data security and the cloud, new classroom tech, and the trends and promising tech that could shake up campuses this year.
Data security and the cloud
Fred Tarca, Quinnipiac University: Going into 2015, we are certain to face greater challenges that are spread across technology in the classroom, technology for administration, and technology for student life, and it is certain that the most common thread for these three areas is security. Just look at the headlines recently. Protecting our data and our information is a continual education process. Our community constantly needs to be aware and sensitized to the potential disastrous outcomes of not protecting our most valuable asset, data.
Andy Jett, Baker University: Better integration between LMS, SIS, accounting, retention data, calendaring/resource scheduling, CRM, helpdesk, alumni/development, etc. This integration also has some possibility to build out some pretty complex data sets that can be used to develop some retention, advancement, planning etc. profiles for a variety of initiatives across campus.
Some of this above work and many other elements will continue to be pushed to the Cloud. In my own worldview of the issues facing my school, the need to embrace and invest in cloud based options is not only fiscal decision but one related to security and flexibility/scalability. We see value not just in cost savings, but risk reduction in moving much of our data center to a cloud based environment and change the make up of the work that my staff focuses on. As always, much of the innovation and change is dependent on the capacity of the IT team (skill sets and sheer hours in the day).
David Hinson, formerly at Hendrix College: I’m impressed by a number of developments: higher reliability in cloud services, which enable higher confidence in the classroom with tech; the tectonic shift to wireless, and increase in wireless carrying speeds, to untether working and learning spaces on campus; and more faculty coming online who view technology not as something to be feared, but an augmentative force to extend the impact of their pedagogy.
I think greater adoption of 802.11ac as a wireless standard on campus will continue to grow, though probably not at breakneck speed because of the capital investment. The “internet of things”, or IoT, along with technologies like Low Energy Bluetooth (BLE) and iBeacons will also continue to gain velocity.
Tarca: The use of lecture capture as a classroom technology in undergraduate courses will increase dramatically in the Spring of 2015 and next academic year. It already has traction in the graduate and professional schools. As more and more faculty become familiar and comfortable with the power of video and the concept of “flipping the classroom,” the demand for lecture capture systems will only continue to rise.
Jett: I am seeing a growing acceptance within our faculty and staff to use the LMS environment to improve use of resources like library/research services, academic advising, professional development for faculty and staff, remedial training for students on quantitative course content, curriculum development, student life, etc. More and more our traditional campus faculty and students are using the LMS as a support tool, beyond the hybrid concept and more of a place to be and live – an extension of the physical spaces. I see this growing as we train and provide development opportunities for faculty to engage with LMS support cloud based tools the improve teaching and learning in and out of the classroom. In many ways this is the conduit for faculty to meet the students ‘where they live’ – which is on the screen on their phone or tablet.
Hinson: The Cloud and Cloud Services will continue to affect what software is used on campus, and the way that budgets for software are constructed. This will also change the dynamic of what the CIO does - and does not, or cannot - control. Fun times ahead for governance!
I also see low end devices like Google Chromebooks being deployed more in colleges and universities this year. Chromebook have made extensive inroads at the K-12 level. I believe this year will be the year that colleges step up their investments, especially in check-out devices in libraries.
Trends (good or bad) and promising tech in development
Tarca: There is no question at all that the use of social media is a powerful set of technologies for universities. It’s even often used to help solve crimes and has uses far beyond the “social” aspects. However, there are many popular social media apps used on campus and not all of them are productive. Universities have to be careful not to chase social media “red herrings” that will distract them from the core mission of education. Universities, however, need to embrace social media apps where results can be measured and that add to the fundamental education process.
Kim Tracy, Northeastern Illinois University: Not a lot of new technologies that are exciting, but 3D printing may have a great deal of promise, particularly as it becomes cheaper.
Hinson: 3D Printing will also continue to not only find its way onto campus, but become more and more integrated into curricula (and not only in Art or Design; the Humanities and Sciences will also start embracing this technology in Archaeology, Anthropology, Physics, and Chemistry). ... Augmented Reality has never really caught on, yet, and I believe that in the absence of a successful breakthrough product like Oculus Rift hopes to be, it will continue to be absent in any meaningful way.
The BYOD (bring your own device) trend is the new normal, and schools that claim to support only specific device types will be shopped out of the market. Students and their parents are increasingly savvy, and know they have choice. Higher Ed IT can no longer afford to be the “Department of No”, and will have to transition from being strict Gatekeepers to Facilitators of responsible and sustainable technology use on campus.