How do you handle cybersecurity threats?

Indiana University, Northwestern University, Purdue University, Rutgers University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have launched OmniSOC, a cybersecurity operations center, or SOC, that provides rapid, actionable cybersecurity intelligence to its members.

OmniSOC is a pioneering initiative of these Big Ten Academic Alliance universities. The goal is to help higher education institutions reduce the time from first awareness of a cybersecurity threat to mitigation for members.

University campuses offer a cyber criminal’s dream, security experts say.

“With tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff, university campuses are really like small cities, with sensitive data and powerful computing systems that are coveted by cyber criminals,” says Tom Davis, OmniSOC founding executive director and chief information security officer.

The OmniSOC will help campuses address larger and more complex cybersecurity threats, which often require expertise and rapid response, he adds.

“Campus-by-campus approaches are essential, [but] they are not sufficient for the sophistication of modern cyber risks. The OmniSOC enhances the work of local security professionals to provide greater real-time, sophisticated threat detection, analysis and action for our members.”


Admissions officers aren’t checking social media–here’s why

It appears college admissions officers aren’t visiting applicants’ social media profiles as much as in years past, and for a surprising reason, according to a new survey from Kaplan Test Prep.

In 2015, 40 percent of surveyed college admissions officers said they went to potential students’ social media profiles to learn more about them. But now, only 25 percent say they seek out applicants’ social media. A possible reason? Admissions officers can’t find the accounts.

Of the admissions officers who say they have visited applicants’ social media profiles, 52 percent say students have become savvier about hiding their social media presence over the past few years, or students have moved away from social communities where what they post is easy to find by people they don’t know.

According to a 2018 report by research firm Piper Jaffray, about 85 percent of teens say they use both Instagram and Snapchat–two platforms that make it easy to share posts with specific people, along with making it easier to keep user profiles and posts hard to find, if desired. This compares to just 36 percent of teens who use Facebook once per month, a decrease from 60 percent two years ago.

Another factor may be a shift in attitudes about checking social media. While 57 percent say it’s “fair game” for them to visit applicants’ social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to help them decide who gets in, it represents a significant drop from the 68 percent who held this view in Kaplan’s 2017 survey.


Have you taken the Kahoot Challenge?

I love to Kahoot, my students love to Kahoot, and I hope after this posting you’ll love to Kahoot, too!

Many of you are probably already on the Kahoot bandwagon—it’s an online testing site that allows faculty to create quizzes (or use existing quizzes) and students take those quizzes using their phones, tablets, or laptops. Kahoot is great test prep or ice breaker or just a way for students to review content. It’s very fun and engaging and students from 7-70 (literally) seem to enjoy it. As a teacher, I can download the data from Kahoot and put it in my grade book or just use it to see where we’re at (aka have they done the reading?).

Take it up a notch
Kahoot Challenge is a whole new ballgame. I can assign it for homework or have it due before class, and guess what? They do the reading! It’s fairly simple:

  1. Go to
  2. Login or sign up (it’s a free and painless process)
  3. Create your Kahoot (they have great tutorials if it’s your first time)
  4. You can create a quiz, a jumble, a discussion, or a survey, or use a Kahoot created by another teacher or faculty member in your content area. Give it a title, describe it, and Go!
  5. Save
  6. After you’ve reviewed your wonderful work, you’ll see your Kahoot listed
  7. Click on Challenge, and this is where things get even more amazing. You’ll be walked through the steps to assign your Kahoot for homework and share your challenge.
  8. That’s it!

I love this tool and I use it both in class and out of class. Here are 3 ways I use it:

  • I create “centers” where students have to review material, watch a video, and then complete the Kahoot Challenge while I’m in the class and available for questions or clarifications.
  • I use it as an exit or entrance slip for class.
  • I assign it for homework.

With each Kahoot, I can get my students’ results in a downloadable Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet. I use these grades as both formative and summative assessments. I encourage you to Kahoot it up!

Follow me on Twitter @careyingle and Instagram @teachingandlearningwdringle and let me know how your Kahooting is going.

[Editor’s Note: See previous Better Teaching Thru Tech columns here.]


Here’s a way to ease students’ financial worries

More than 20 million students are currently enrolled in a four-year degree program, and 7 in 10 students will graduate with not just a degree, but with student loan debt, too.

Digital tools can bring about new and positive change when it comes to higher-ed affordability, said Michael Hansen, chief executive officer of Cengage Learning, in a post on LinkedIn.

When 38 percent of students say they earned a poor grade and 20 percent say they failed a course, all due to inability to afford the course materials, the focus should turn to education access and how funding restricts that access for many students, Hansen wrote.

The average college expenses for a public four-year school include room and board (42 percent), tuition and fees (39 percent), books and supplies (5 percent), transportation (5 percent), and other expenses (9 percent).

But students can sidestep some of the more burdensome expenses if they opt for digital courseware instead of going exclusively on campus. Students who take courses that engage digitally and in person can achieve content mastery twice as fast, according to Gates Foundation data cited in Cengage research.

Digital can offer more value, including:

  • Open educational resources (OER)–OER has the potential to triple in use as primary courseware over the next 5 years.
  • Inclusive digital access programs–Students can save up to 50 percent on courseware and up to 70 percent on eTexts through Inclusive Access programs.
  • Digital courseware–52 percent of students saved money by using digital materials in the 2016-2017 academic year, and digital costs as much as 60 percent less than traditional print materials.
  • Rental–43 percent of students rented at least one course material (print or digital) in the fall of 2016, compared to 40 percent in fall 2015, and students can save on average between 50 percent and 90 percent through textbook rental.

Click on the infographic below for a larger version:

digital infographic


Are you ahead of the curve when it comes to online learning?

Online learning continues to offer expanded learning opportunities to traditional and nontraditional students, but it also challenges institutional norms.

The 2018 Changing Landscape of Online Education is part of a continuing effort to uncover what chief online officers at higher-ed institutions think about learning policies, practices, and plans. It’s a joint initiative of Quality Matters and Eduventures.

The report offers a deeper dive into important online learning subject matters and policies, including these 9 areas:

1. Though the term “online learning” can blur the lines between all-online and blended learning, surveyed institutions tend to emphasize fully-online programs over blended learning—in fact, very few institutions said they see blended learning as a core strategy.

“At the course level, 55 percent of respondents said online is emphasized more than blended. Forty-eight percent said the same at the program level, compared to 5 percent and 10 percent emphasis, respectively, placed on blended courses and programs,” according to the report.

2. Most survey respondents say they view the online learning market as more competitive than it was five years ago. Community college respondents are more likely to cite local competition, and four-year schools point more frequently to regional or national competitors.


5 approaches will shape higher ed’s future—which will you follow?

Five specific approaches could help address new realities of and demands on public higher education, according to a new report.

These new models also will work to improve the student experience, and they are detailed in The Future(s) of Public Higher Education, released by Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence and Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities.

The report offers an example of a current university and how its practices align with one of the five approaches.

Higher ed will have to respond to the academic and financial needs of its current and future learners in order to maintain relevance, experts have consistently said.

“The rapid pace of change in higher education, due in large part to shifting learner demographics, mandates a new educational model for public universities,” says Rich DeMillo, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities. “This report outlines critical examples of ways that public universities might revitalize their approach and meet the demands of learners with a wide variety of needs.”

The five approaches include:

1. The Entrepreneurial University: A state university system differentiates its offerings at the institution level while coordinating at the system level to align educational investments with student—and state economic—needs. Individual institutions would specialize in areas such as undergraduate education, vocational training, or research, while degree programs and curricula would be centrally influenced through the definition of clear goals by the state and system.

Example: Western Governors University (WGU) is a nonprofit university established to expand access to quality higher education to adult students with some college and no degree. WGU is the nation’s first accredited competency-based education (CBE) university, providing CBE online and at scale.


How big data is driving innovation at Elon University

When big data produces new insights, the results can be stunning. Uncovering new growth opportunities, finding answers to long-asked organizational questions, and using IT resources more effectively are just a few of the outcomes big data can offer.

However, building the integrated data sets necessary for big data to work its magic has historically been challenging for colleges and universities, even more so than for businesses. While higher education institutions do aggregate massive amounts of data, often individual departments collect and review it in isolation.

Fortunately, the introduction of new technology, specifically designed with higher education in mind, is helping to drive a new wave of campus modernization. At Elon University in North Carolina, we’ve been able to harness the power of big data, increasing collaboration across departments and ultimately enhancing the college experience with a true focus on student success. With a renewed campus-wide focus on data and the technology to help us get there, we’ve successfully used big data insights to directly improve student and staff outcomes. Here’s how we did it.

Building a sandbox of innovation
The concept of using student and administrative data to improve the overall experience for students and staff is relatively new to higher education. While colleges and universities already have access to terabytes of potentially useful data, many institutions don’t have the means of aggregating that data across departments to quickly extract actionable information.

For us, the first step to solve this challenge was creating a flexible digital platform that could collect, integrate, and store a massive amount of data. We needed a solution that would ingest enough data to give us insight into campus processes, practices, and behaviors. We chose Ellucian Colleague® for its flexibility and ease of use. Because it’s hosted in the cloud, we could focus on collecting the right data and pulling the most relevant insights from it, not maintaining IT infrastructure and trying to keep up with application releases.

Improving the college experience and enabling post-graduation success
Once we had the right data feeds integrated across campus, we could begin to create some really exciting and innovative solutions. One recent example is the Elon Experiences Transcript (EET), which is made possible by the student data we’re now tracking. The EET, unlike traditional transcripts, is designed to demonstrate a holistic picture of each student’s skills, interests, and accomplishments by focusing on the specific skills learned through their college experiences.

The EET serves as an interactive portfolio that features more than just a student’s degree and grade point average. It includes descriptions of their work while on campus, explanations of leadership positions they held, and details on courses they took. Potential employers can then dive even deeper to view more detailed information, such as outcomes of specific classes and in-depth descriptions of research in a particular field. The EET gives a more nuanced picture of a potential employee, greatly helping recruiters find the right fit for a job and ensuring Elon students have a better chance of getting hired.


Are you up on the latest tech trends?

Analytics technologies, makerspaces, and redesigning learning spaces are just a few of the numerous technology developments and trends outlined in the 2018 NMC Horizon Report, which outlines issues, technologies, and trends that higher-ed leaders should keep in mind as they outline institutional priorities.

It includes three parts: key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education, significant challenges impeding technology adoption in higher education, and important developments in educational technology.

Ed-tech trends

Higher-ed trends are organized in terms of time of impact. Advancing cultures of innovation and cross-institution and cross-sector collaboration are long-term trends expected to drive ed-tech adoption for five or more years.


How AI will reshape our universities

In light of the fact that only 59 percent of students who begin pursuing a four-year degree at a higher-ed institution graduate within six years, many in the industry are seeking innovative ways to improve student outcomes.

Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have led to its adoption across many sectors. The multidisciplinary field presents a wide variety of opportunities for application, giving it great potential for use in higher education. AI encompasses these sub fields:

  • machine learning, used in everything from search engines to recommendation systems
  • natural-language processing, a prominent use case being the language understanding of Amazon’s Alexa
  • computer vision, which is used for tasks such as facial recognition.

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the many ways this technology could be used to help universities improve the student experience.

AI uses on campus
One way AI could revolutionize the higher ed experience is through automating the course-scheduling process. Rather than the current, sometimes lengthy, process of searching for courses that fit specific schedule and major requirements and deliberating over which ones to take, students could simply input any particular scheduling conflicts, such as a job or extracurricular activity, and receive a suggested course schedule tailored to their academic needs that fits within their time constraints.

Machine learning models could assess a student’s academic record, including previous courses taken and chosen major, to select courses that set the student on a path to graduation. Beyond simply meeting major requirements, however, the models could analyze the student’s past performance and suggest courses in which the student is most likely to succeed. This system could be used effectively from the student’s personal computer, as well as in the advising office. Using AI to automate scheduling could help students to stay on track toward graduation and take courses that will challenge them while also enabling them to succeed.


Are you using social media for student recruitment? You should be

Higher-ed institutions should try to invest more in digital presence and digital student recruitment strategies, according to a new survey.

Although students primarily use web and social media channels to research a particular college or university, the investment in digital and web recruiting varies by institution. In fact, students often make their final application decisions based solely on online information.

The 2018 Global Higher Education Digital Marketing & Web Survey, from TERMINALFOUR, examines digital marketing, web, and social-media trends, along with their perceived effectiveness in engagement and student recruitment when used by higher education institutions.

The survey includes responses from 432 higher-ed professionals in 383 institutions across the globe.

Higher-ed recruiting professionals expect Facebook and Instagram to be their top social-media recruiting platforms, though Facebook appears to be falling out of favor. In 2017, 62 percent of those surveyed said it was the top platform for student engagement, while just 45 percent believe the same this year.

In 2017, just 20 percent of survey respondents believed Instagram had top ability to engage prospective students, while 36 percent of respondents say the same this year.

In fact, 32 percent of those surveyed say Instagram will be the social-media platform they give the most attention to in the next 12 months. In 2017, 54 percent of respondents said they would give Facebook the most attention, and this year, just 36 percent say the same.

Behind Facebook and Instagram are YouTube (8.2 percent), Twitter (7.1 percent), LinkedIn (4.5 percent), and Snapchat (3.7 percent).

Investment in digital recruiting strategies are still low, despite a positive impact on student recruitment.

Just 22 percent of respondents say they have increased their investment in digital marketing in the last two years, despite the fact that 85 percent say student recruitment is the primary objective of their web strategy. Forty-two percent, however, are unsure of the numbers behind that primary goal. Forty-five percent of web and digital marketing teams say they have increased in size since 2017.

Roughly two-thirds (65 percent) of those surveyed say they measure web-strategy success based on inquiries from prospective students generated online. Thirty-two percent don’t track this activity.

In 2017, close to 35 percent of those surveyed said their online/web strategy was decided by a collaboration between web and marketing teams, but that declined to about 23 percent in 2018. The communications and marketing teams have exclusive ownership of online/web strategies in about 32 percent of responding institutions.