Jan 19 2018
Data Analytics

4 Higher Ed IT Trends to Watch in 2018

From driving up data to leveraging IT more effectively, here’s what universities will be up to this year.

Thanks to technology, universities often find themselves at the cutting edge of innovation.

Whether it’s modern manufacturing programs or 21st-century sports facilities, universities have wholeheartedly embraced technology to reshape the higher education experiences.

With the help of data, better security strategies, mobile technology and IT innovation, they will continue to do so in 2018 and beyond.

“What we’re seeing this year is that student success is absolutely still important, but it’s not the central organizing North Star for technology or innovations for institutions,” says Susan Grajek, vice president for communities and research at EDUCAUSE. “Institutions are using technologies to remake higher education.

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1. Data Will Drive More Decision-Making

Data analytics tools have been a huge part of digital transformation for institutions. A number of universities have invested in technologies that allow them to pinpoint when a student is struggling and intervene, thus increasing retention.

In a recent panel on Campus Technology, education experts offered up their insights on how data in higher education will continue to expand this year and beyond.

“Universities are making great progress when it comes to using data to help with retention and student success,” says panelist Thomas Hoover, CIO and dean of the library at University of Louisiana Monroe. “However, there is still much room for improvement to take advantage of data-driven decision-making across the entire campus.”

For example, Hoover cites the opportunity to use data to monitor campus spaces, such as how often computer labs are used, before planning future construction projects.

Data will also continue to inform student success in new ways. Grajek says that predictive analytics will be used to drive student success and create more informed educational plans.

For universities to get the most out of their data, IT will need to take steps forward to create standardization in how data is collected, cleansed and stored, says Campus Technology panelist Brian Fodrey, assistant dean for facilities and IT and CIO of the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

2. Universities Will Continue to Grow Security Best Practices

The sheer amount of sensitive data that higher education institutions house is precisely why they will continue to be targeted by cyberattacks. Joanna Grama, EDUCAUSE’s director of cybersecurity and IT governance, risk and compliance, says that universities won’t see any particular emerging threat come forth in 2018, but they will face all the same security issues as other industries.

“We don’t have a subset of things that we see more of,” says Grama. “I think one of the things that makes higher education so attractive is that we are kind of a one-stop shop for all kinds of different information.”

The key to minimizing the threat of cyberattacks will be to remove the silos from information security and keep everyone on campus — from CIO to student worker — informed on how to correctly handle data.

Institutions that are doing really well in the information security sphere understand that everybody at the institution has a role and that everybody needs to be empowered to do that role properly,” says Grama.

Largely, Grama says that EDUCAUSE research has shown that universities are doing a great job with providing education, training and awareness to their faculty and staff. On a smaller scale, she also notes that more universities are requiring “cyber hygiene” training for students.

3. Mobile Tech Expands Learning Opportunities

As students continue to use mobile tools to complete classwork, 2018 might be time for professors to embrace it more fully. Fodrey says in the Campus Technology panel discussion that tapping mobile technology could provide educators and students with a number of benefits.

“The infusion of mobile technologies affords a multitude of opportunities, expanding use cases for how and where people learn and consume information, and allowing institutions to learn more about user behavior in more ways that can be imagined,” says Fodrey.

As the classroom is continually reimagined, Grajek says that more mobile devices will be leveraged by educators and students to improve learning experiences.

4. Colleges Could Leverage IT at the Recruitment Stage

University IT departments are truly at the core of technology trends and Grajek indicates IT adaptiveness will be the main trend most higher education institutions will deal with in 2018.

Hoover notes on Campus Technology that IT will continue to be integral to support the mission of all higher education institutions and might even be able to be leveraged as a recruitment tool.

“As universities begin to battle for the reduced number of traditional students, a solid information technology infrastructure on campus could make the difference in which university students choose,” says Hoover. “Students are more apt to select a university that invests in technology and uses its information technology innovatively across campus.”

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