How a seemingly basic technology is driving the university of the future

At Emory & Henry (E&H), technology is not only transforming our campus into one of the most digitally-connected environments, it is also laying the groundwork for education of the future—thanks to Wi-Fi.

With our recent technology initiatives—including triple-digit speed Wi-Fi—we have built a strong foundation for our vision of the campus of the future; including the ability to realize our strategic vision where “blended learning” is a reality, where learning is accessible, personal and affordable to diverse groups of students. This is learning that our students can fully leverage for bigger success pre- and post-graduation.

Why is Blended Learning the Future?…Read More

3 reasons why cybersecurity is such a problem for higher ed

As the volume and rate of complex cyber-attacks such as malware, ransomware, DNS data exfiltration and phishing continue to rise exponentially, higher education institutions are now struggling to deal with a tsunami of threats. To add to the challenge, the vast majority of threats they face are engineered to target a specific institution and to exploit any vulnerabilities in its specific security systems and processes.

A system that becomes infected with malware presents a huge risk for any college or university. For example, in the case of an infected laptop, disconnecting the device from the network and removing the malware is time consuming and inconvenient, and there is a greater risk that a malware-infected laptop could be used to steal confidential data such as student information, financial data, usernames and passwords.

The financial and reputational impact that a data breach can have on an institution can be catastrophic, which is why cybersecurity is now a board agenda.…Read More

5 brilliant ways top universities are handling Millennials’ web needs

The proliferation of connected devices (Gartner predicts that 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020) is coming with a generation of people who will leverage the internet in novel ways. Already, online courses and web-based resources are an everyday option on campuses all over the country thanks to Millennials’ web needs.

To handle this new digital paradigm, universities are coming up with new ways to leverage students’ expanding use of technology and adapt their networks to meet new demands. Current teaching styles and innovative campus technologies supporting these Millennials’ needs are leading to a shift in how higher education plans and deploys its IT infrastructure.

Universities that are meeting Millennials’ needs:…Read More

The 3 campus bandwidth offenders—and how to manage them

Over the past five years, student Wi-Fi expectations have gone from convenience to pervasive. Wi-Fi connectivity permeates every location, available no matter where students are on campus. With the new school year well underway, how can colleges and universities across the country ensure their Wi-Fi networks handle the ongoing campus bandwidth hurdles that will only grow over the course of the year?

According to a recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, students reported using their connected devices an average of 11 times per day in class. Campuses must provide secure, reliable service in environments ranging from lower density (offices, classrooms and dorms) to high-density (lecture halls and stadiums seating 10s of thousands of fans).

To complicate matters worse, the user and device populations constantly change. Unlike K-12 education, students arrive or leave each semester and devices are not standardized. I have seen college students move into the dorm with as many as 20 Wi-Fi enabled devices – smartphones, tablets, laptops, printers, game consoles, extra drives, you name it. Then after the holiday season, they come back with more devices and the expectation to connect them all. New devices and applications emerge all the time. And it all has to go onto the Wi-Fi network.…Read More

Why Teachers College blew up its wireless network

To help prepare Teachers College, Columbia University for the 21st century, the IT department decided the best way to fix its existing wireless network was to throw it out.

What would you do if you could blow up your school’s entire wireless network and start all over again? That’s exactly what Teachers College, Columbia University has done, as the storied institution seeks to position itself for the 21st century, complete with cutting-edge online instruction and highly automated classrooms.

“When I realized that the university was willing to rip everything out and start new, I knew we would be able to do some very innovative things,” said Amir Akbari, chief information security officer for Teachers College. “That’s really important. You need to be able to start from the beginning, and build up a brand-new beautiful foundation.”

For Naveed Husain, hired in 2014 as CIO to direct the college’s IT makeover, the decision to start from scratch wasn’t so much a choice as a necessity. “The college had deferred maintenance on infrastructure IT for several years,” he said. “More than three-quarters of our networking equipment was end-of-life.”…Read More

Campuses beware! 4 types of bandwidth-sucking apps

When education and business mix with recreation on the same network, it creates fundamental challenges with network capacity.

Students, faculty and staff at higher education institutions today struggle with consistently bad internet access via an unsafe and unreliable Wi-Fi connection—mostly due to bandwidth-sucking apps.

Far too often, campus-goers accept poor coverage, slow connections or drop outs as part of the game. While the use of different Wi-Fi connected devices continues to grow unabated, dependence on wireless as a utility comes into the spotlight. A recent Gartner report states, the world will see 25 billion internet-connected things by 2020, nearly 4 times the number connected today. This type of growth places an increased strain on a college campus’ Wi-Fi network.

To provide a utility-grade experience, appropriate enterprise infrastructure in conjunction with a cutting-edge design is key. While these may seem to be obvious considerations, it’s a surprise how often they are shortchanged by unscrupulous vendors or integrators who end up selling largely on price.…Read More

Less could mean more for a campus network

By dumping its multi-appliance network approach in favor of an all-in-one solution, a Kentucky school beefed up security, improved the user experience—and saved money.

network-campus-universityIn deciding how to protect a university network and optimize their performance, IT departments often face a choice: Go with best-of-breed applications for each service, even if integration sometimes poses a headache, or opt for an all-in-one solution that wraps multiple services into a neat bundle. When the headaches start to outweigh the performance benefits of standalone solutions, the all-in-one approach can look mighty attractive.

Asbury University, a small faith-based school in Kentucky, reached that tipping point two years ago when it decided to trade in its multi-appliance network arrangement for an all-in-one solution—in this case, Dell’s SonicWALL E6500 series firewall. “We were dealing with separate appliances for network access control [NAC], user authentication, our VPN, and our web-content-filtering system, plus we had our firewall for network security and intrusion detection,” said Paul Dupree, CIO and assistant vice president of IT Services at Asbury University. “The devices didn’t always work seamlessly together and they weren’t communicating as efficiently as possible.”

Dupree was particularly concerned that exploitable flaws existed in the interfaces between these different devices and applications. “I think there was some vulnerability inherent in our model of four separate appliances that relied on protocols between the network appliances,” said Dupree. “There were no heavily documented vulnerabilities, but we would hear rumors of students finding ways around our web-content filtering, for example. As a faith-based institution, we have a specific mission to block certain types of websites from on-campus users.”…Read More

Preventing the student zombie apocalypse thanks to this tech

Faced with widespread unhappiness over campus WiFi performance, UNC at Charlotte is upgrading to new 802.11ac Wave 2 access points.

wave-2-zombieHell hath no fury like a student with no WiFi connection. It’s a reality recognized by more and more colleges as they compete for the affections of today’s screen-addled youth. Indeed, WiFi represents an entirely new front in the amenities arms race, with schools battling to keep up with student expectations in the face of an unprecedented surge in the number of devices on campus.

“We are seeing somewhere between three and five devices per student,” said Jesse Beauman, assistant vice chancellor for enterprise infrastructure at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which is embarking on a major WiFi overhaul that is expected to last two years. “In the past three years, the use of wireless has exploded and, like most campuses, we are playing catch-up while also trying to plan for the future.”

The need to catch up is evidenced by growing unhappiness at UNCC with the performance of the current WiFi setup, which utilizes a combination of primarily 802.11n and some 802.11ac Wave 1 access points (APs). “Our biggest problem is that we have more clients than our infrastructure can handle,” said Beauman. “As students bring more and more laptops, smartphones, tablets, and wearable tech, we’re exceeding our capacity, so there have been a lot of complaints of slowness or an inability to associate with an access point.”…Read More

Surfing the next Wave in campus Wi-Fi

Meeting campus wireless demands could become a much smoother ride with 802.11ac Wave 2.

wave-wireless-campusLook around your campus and you can see why the demand for wireless is exploding: almost every student, faculty and staff member carries multiple wireless devices and use Wi-Fi as their default method to access the Internet and your own educational and administrative applications.

If today’s 802.11a/b/g or even 802.11n access points (APs) aren’t slowing service, they soon could be as a growing sea of wireless devices compete for overlapping channels and reduced signal quality. Such problems are particularly acute in “dense” usage areas such as student common areas and dorms, or where large numbers of users gather for short periods, such as sports stadiums.

These bandwidth demands will only grow as more users adopt new, data-generating devices. Then there are other, less visible bandwidth users. These include mobile applications that obtain location information from Bluetooth-based beacons or Wi-Fi and then provide location based services like way-finding in a campus or customized content to students based on their location. There are video streams from wireless security cameras, smartboards in classrooms, as well as data from devices not directly associated with a user — or what is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) — used to maximize the efficiency of systems such as lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling equipment.…Read More

Florida Atlantic adopts Internet of Things platform

Platform could aid IoT initiatives.

internet-thingsFlorida Atlantic University’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE) is adopting Telit’s deviceWISE IoT Platform in an effort to aid the university’s research projects and technology solutions for the Internet of Things.

deviceWISE has already been integrated into several I-SENSE projects, with plans for more.

“Partnering with Telit increases our capacity to pursue FAU’s vision of excellence in sensing and smart systems,” said Jason Hallstrom, Director of I-SENSE. “We’ve found a great collaborator right in our backyard. Telit technologies have been at the heart of our programs for years, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have them as a partner.”…Read More