20 years higher education

Leaders give their 2016 higher-ed predictions


PJF_300Information Security Controls Expanding Beyond the Border

By Patrick Feehan

Higher education has seen the incidence of breach events grow. A prominent method of attack prevention has been to place border controls around a network to prevent breaches of that border. Concurrently, there is also general agreement that most breaches are not breaches of a network border, but rather errors related to handling confidential data.

Human error as the primary attack vector is still in effect, despite the prominence of cybersecurity awareness programs in place at most institutions. While awareness programs have increased employee knowledge and reduced large phishing/spam attacks that were prominent in 2010- 2013, attacks have changed and evolved as well.

2016 will herald a great movement of institutions to evolve their security programs as well.  While the concept of managing the entire cybersecurity attack chain is not new, its rise to being a commonplace driver of security planning is burgeoning.  Groups such as  Lockheed Martin, or the SANS in their top 20 Critical Security Controls have long proposed that an attack begins long before the breach event and extends after the breach event, requiring multiple  strategies to mitigate an attack.

Further, the acceleration in 2016 in “Cloud” computing by higher education institutions, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS), will also require  a strategy implementing  security “controls” appropriate for computing outside the traditional network boundaries.  Whether the controls are contained in contract language and dependent on Vendors, or implemented by institutions in evolving offerings such as Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), the security due diligence checklist in a Cloud transaction must evolve as well in 2016.

Patrick Feehan is the Information Security& Privacy Director at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. He is interested in security technology and the formation of security contracts.

Mike Fary_300Data Governance will be Critical

By Michael Fary

Data governance will become increasingly important to higher ed as institutions take advantage of the value of the data that has been locked up in siloed systems for so many years, as well as the influx of new data that is coming at them via social media and other “Internet of Things” sources. As institutions look to analytics to help them improve everything from student success and retention rates to development opportunities, data will need to be made available in consistent formats and be of the highest quality possible. The best analytics tools in the world can’t make up for data that is inconsistent, skewed, or otherwise of little value.

Data governance will be key to insure that the quality of that data is maintained at the highest levels possible. This will require an institutional commitment to foster a culture of data stewardship throughout the entire organization. Developing and documenting standard definitions, and making the usage and context of data available to the consumers of information will provide the framework for understanding the data and allowing it to be used to its fullest value.

Risk mitigation will be another important aspect of the data governance program. Developing a data classification framework to identify at risk data domains, maintaining an inventory of data assets, and educating constituents in best practices of data usage will provide a solid foundation of protecting the data of the institution.

By developing an institutional view of data, and establishing best practices in data quality, usage, and handling, higher ed will benefit greatly from a resource that has been waiting to be tapped.

Mike Fary is the Enterprise Data Architect at the University of Chicago. Mike’s role at the University has him leading data governance, stewardship, and data analysis activities. In addition, he is actively involved in Educause’s ECAR data management group, where he has spoken at national conferences on data management issues, and co-authored papers on data related topics.

suess1_small_300IPASS – Using Technology to Improve Student Success

By Jack Suess

I think one of the most innovative trends that will gain momentum in 2016 is the effort around systems that provide interactive planning & advising for student success (IPASS). These systems, which provide students with a multi-year academic plan are designed to support students in achieving academic success and improve both student success and time-to-degree.

My optimism that IPASS will gain momentum is based on two related factors. First, EDUCAUSE, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded twenty-four institutions with IPASS implementation grants. Secondly, we are seeing companies and organizations such as the Predicted Analytics Framework, Civitas Learning, HelioCampus, and the Education Advisory Board develop data models that can determine the likelihood of student success in a particular course or program. All of these entities are working with many universities simultaneously, thereby allowing them to get much more data than a single institution could accumulate. With this data they are utilizing advanced statistical models and machine learning techniques to identify critical success factors and develop accurate predictive models for student success.

Through the use of IPASS, these predictive models are now being integrated and presented to students and advisors in a meaningful way to improve the advising session. Students are able to get data on what courses are the most difficult to pass and can better estimate the time they need to commit to pass a course.

When a change of major is being considered, students and advisors can now easily review their current academic progress against different programs and find one that best utilizes the courses already taken and the likelihood of that student successfully completing the program. For these reasons, I believe 2016 will be the year that IPASS demonstrates why it is an essential component for advancing student success.

Jack Suess is Vice President of IT & CIO of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). He is very active in the EDUCAUSE, Internet2, and IMSglobal and is focused on using technology to advance the mission of higher education.

javiermiyares_300Creating a Culture from Data

By Javier Miyares

The use of analytics and data analysis services to help universities operate more efficiently and focus on academic quality and student success is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. So is a culture that relies on data to guide strategic decision making and actions at all operational levels of a university.

It is a trend I see in higher education that will increasingly gain momentum as colleges and universities continue to experience budgetary challenges—ranging from shrinking financial support from state governments (particular to public institutions) to the impact of enrollment volatility for tuition-driven schools—as well as an attempt to shed higher education’s reputation for making changes at a glacial pace.

Institutions simply do not have time to waste. We all know how quickly technology is transforming the global economy, and how important it is for every industry to embrace rapid change. Higher education has not been immune and is undergoing its own revolution.

My institution, whose mission is focused on working adults, is using analytics to combine data from disparate parts of the university to increase institutional efficiency, improve student success and drive changes in university policies.

It is, indeed, a culture shift. Our analytics professionals now work together—and closely—with key university stakeholders to evaluate performance metrics, analyze trends and monitor progress toward strategic and operational goals.

The results have been extraordinary. In the last year, UMUC’s new student enrollment increased by 20 percent while we reduced recruitment expenses by 20 percent, due to better targeting and smart spending; we have increased our undergraduate successful course completion rate by over 7 percentage points and our student persistence rate by almost 4 percentage points over the last four years; and data has informed significant policy changes, ranging from the length of our courses to our course registration procedures.

These are real, evidence-based and data-backed improvements. And as the trend toward leveraging data analytics in higher education picks up steam, I believe we will see better run universities and significant gains in student success and college completion throughout the country.

Javier Miyares is President of the University of Maryland University College. Miyares has been president of UMUC since October 2012. UMUC is America’s largest public online university and a constituent institution of the University System of Maryland (USM).

(Next page: Predictions on SaaS, analytics, institutional dominance and collaboration)