The Adaptive Campus: 2018’s Top 10 Issues Examined

By Gerri Hinkel, Director Solutions and Vertical Marketing Manager
Share Post

I was not surprised to see that improved student outcomes was one of the overarching themes of the EDUCAUSE 2018 Top 10 Issues, solidifying the importance of digital technology in remaking higher education. It makes sense, given that the primary mission of a higher education institution is to produce graduates. As I think back to conversations I have had over the past year with IT professionals, it should also not come as a surprise that improved decision making and institutional adaptiveness were the other two themes identified by EDUCAUSE. More now than anytime during the past 10 years, IT is being brought to the collaborative table to solve not only connectivity demands, but to help design and deliver system, tools, and information that promotes institutional and student success, and doing so in a way that isn't guesswork, but driven by data and insights.

What I do find hard to wrap my head around, however, is what it must feel like sitting in the CIO chair, tackling all of these issues. I am fairly confident that they must feel IT adaptiveness, the fourth overarching theme, is connected to almost all of their IT issues – that they must be agile in their response to new network demands, new instructional tools, new IoT enabled environments, new security concerns, new campus wide initiatives, new construction, new research initiatives, and so on.


My View on IT Adaptiveness

Although the official EDUCAUSE Top 10 list connects IT adaptiveness to only two issues, I'll make a small stretch and say it goes further than that. Here is how I see this theme connected to the top 5 issues.

#1 Issue: Information Security

While utilizing student, faculty, and IoT devices can introduce benefits in enhanced instruction, efficiency, and cost-savings, they can introduce challenges for IT departments ensuring security. With the tens of thousands of devices on the network, and internal threats equally as important to detect as external threats, adopting smart and adaptive network systems that use real-time automation and machine learning for turning the network into a threat mitigation solution is more important than ever.

#2 Student Success and #5 Student-centered Institution

For the always-on connected student, it is difficult to be academically successful when connectivity challenges happen. Additionally, students expect personalized learning and living, oftentimes engaging using their phone. The expectation is that connectivity is a home-like experience – it just works. Being able to adapt the network and/or digital tools and applications quickly to meet the demands of students not only builds a student-centered institution, but also gives institutions a competitive advantage as a tech-savvy institution.

#3 Institution-wide IT Strategy and #4 Data-enabled Institutional Culture

Considering that a campus is like a city, it is no surprise that it might have distinct IT groups, each working towards their own goals. Over the past two years, there has been an increased effort to improve cross-department collaboration. With technology innovations moving toward the cloud and software, it is a prime time to look institution-wide to see where working better together makes sense. With an institution-wide IT strategy, data-driven decision making can be used as business intelligence to improve facilities, assist campus safety, reduce carbon footprint, save budget, and support student success initiatives.


Automation is Key

Being agile and adaptable is not as hard as it used to be. Network optimization via automation is a key feature that CIOs should be looking to for help. For example, empowering IT with intelligent and simplified networking tools to gain information from the network, and understand how it is impacting user experience BEFORE there are complaints helps students be successful. Machine learning that provides insights for optimizing the network is also needed, especially with challenges related to staffing. I encourage you to look at the Aruba Higher Education page for solutions that are a great match for delivering an adaptable campus network.