Increasing Complexity Of The IT Environment Impacts The Education Sector

By Russell Poole, Asst. VC of IT Services & CIO, University of Colorado Denver

Russell Poole, Asst. VC of IT Services & CIO, University of Colorado Denver

The Role of Big Data In Education
Education has always had the capacity to generate a huge amount of data, more than any other industry perhaps. The challenge working with Big Data is to make sure that we shift from focusing just on faculty research and give more importance to students’ experience. We are using Big Data to engage and offer students a better experience. The Big Data approach can analyze underlying patterns in order to predict student’s outcomes. Big Data, through predictive analytics, allows us to become more adept at solving problems with student recruitment and retention, looking to the types of services students may be using and adjusting our curricular programs and hiring process. Looking at Big Data part, the main point of it is, pushing it to the user’s fingertips so that we start looking and forecasting ahead versus recording what we have already done.

Technology trends that have significant impact on education sector
The biggest one right now is Mobility and BYOD (Bring-Your- Own-Device), or BYOE (Bring-Your Own-Everything). Higher education is different than most businesses because everybody brings their own mobile devices to work during the day, but our customers don’t leave. We have more of “stay here and live here” concept versus other businesses that have more sporadic view of consumers have in flow. Therefore, we not only address the educational needs of our students but also their residential and social needs, which is why we started looking into improving the wireless and cellular coverage on campus. Electrical power is also a factor, making sure that there are enough public power outlets for students to recharge their devices. As a whole, we want to shift from the traditional office-bound student services and concentrate more on self-service applications for what students really want.

Technology Trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment
I have been keeping a close eye on the “cloud.” Of course, the “cloud” means different things to different people so it has been fascinating to watch how different organizations are leveraging the offering. As a large public research university that handles a great deal of federally regulated data, we have to be mindful in how we handle data. I am also very interested in the ongoing acceptance of remote and thin-client technologies. These technologies go hand-in hand with services in the cloud. Ultimately, all we will need is a portal into the cloud where all of the data and compute cycles live. This, of course, will require an exceptionally robust and available network.

The area of infrastructure investment
The challenges in infrastructure are no longer an either-or situation. So, it is not wired or wireless, it’s wired and wireless and cellular. Traditionally, wireless access was limited to common areas, but now wireless coverage is needed in each and every corner of the campus so that when students, faculty and staff walk around, they always have access to a connection. Communication infrastructure has to be a part of continuous funding and support. It’s not a “fund it and forget it” type of investment. Most organizations face a similar challenge with their technology infrastructure, but we have to address the educational, residential, and social needs of our onsite consumers 24/7.

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