Planning for technology that will change education

  • Increasing use of mobile devices and demand for new learning tools are helping drive colleges and universities to adopt cloud and other technologies.

  • Most campus IT leaders rank supporting mobile computing as a top priority.

  • ROI, security, and privacy are among the top concerns as schools move to adopt advanced technologies.

At many U.S. colleges and universities, issues like providing adequate tech support and training for students and faculty are the top priorities for CIOs and IT managers. Those priorities, though, are changing.

Students’ use of mobile technology, demand for new types of learning, and the cost-effectiveness of technologies such as cloud computing are prompting campuses to plan more robust wireless and cloud infrastructures.

Higher education will need robust platforms to achieve its next priority: reaching more students, on campus and off, with the best possible learning experience anytime, anyplace.

Tracking trends in college technology

The Campus Computing Project’s 2014 survey on IT in U.S. higher education reveals some of the trends that will set the stage for new learning solutions, such as adaptive learning, two-way videoconferencing, bring your own device (BYOD) integration, telepresence, and a host of others.

  • The majority of campus IT officials say implementing and supporting mobile computing is a top priority.
  • Only 17 percent of them rated their current mobile services as excellent.
  • 33 percent of campuses, up 6 percent from 2013, now contract with third-party providers to develop or expand online programs.
  • Privacy and security issues have stymied the implementation of mobile and cloud solutions.
  • About 30 percent of campuses have a strategic plan for cloud computing, up slightly from the previous year.

Planning for learning

When building the foundations and platforms for new learning solutions, IT leaders for colleges and universities view controlling costs, along with privacy and security, as top concerns. Other factors they look at include:

  • The ROI for every solution – boards generally won’t approve projects unless they can justify the expense
  • Existing equipment – servers, PCs, audio/visual gear, etc. – that can be optimized and used for the solution
  • Available broadband/wireless networks, access points, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and near-field systems
  • Current cloud-based solutions or the status of plans to transition to cloud-based solutions
  • Status of a BYOD integration plan
  • Ease of use of automated solutions. Educators want to focus on teaching, not adjusting a videoconferencing setup. Simplify processes with dashboards and portals
  • Use of proven platforms that integrate and automate key devices, connections, and workflow

Reaching out with technology

Some college and universities have already successfully incorporated some mobile and cloud technologies into their IT.

  • Rockhurst University uses AT&T Campus Guide to provide access to core applications, such as exam and holiday schedules systems and campus maps, from mobile phones and tablets.
  • Oklahoma State University, in the heart of Tornado Alley, sends out weather alerts and other important messages via text message, social media, and email with Rave Messenger.

Most colleges and universities are getting better grades for their use of advanced technologies. But with the right solutions, they’ll soon be at the head of their class.

Jeff O’Heir is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for leading IT websites. He frequently covers the impact of emerging technologies on businesses. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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