4 best practices around diversity and inclusion in higher education

The next generation of employees will be more diverse than ever before, and that’s a great thing for business. According to a McKinsey & Co. study, companies with greater ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have better financial returns than their peers, and companies with more gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform their competitors.

Similarly, institutions of higher learning should consider the multicultural workforce of the future when planning for recruitment and programming; doing so will encourage a more creative learning environment, pushing the student body to experience different viewpoints and prepare for life after graduation—and increasing the values of their degrees.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education, student-body diversity in higher education is important not only for improving economic and educational opportunities for students of color, but also for the social, academic, and societal benefits it presents for all students and communities. Students report less discrimination and bias at institutions where they perceive a higher commitment to diversity. The report also found that higher education improves social mobility for minorities; on average, African Americans and Hispanics who completed four-year college degrees earn double compared to those who only earned a high school diploma.…Read More

Overcoming multi-cloud security challenges

Over the past decade, technology that supports e-learning environments in higher education settings has evolved rapidly. This has enabled a number of benefits for education, such as more efficient teaching and sharing of information, personalized lessons to let students progress at their own pace, and great cost savings. To bring cloud-based technologies into higher education, students are accessing these tools from their laptops or mobile devices.

Meanwhile, administrative offices have seen rapid growth of cloud-based support technologies such as enrollment, recruiting, and financial-management systems. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps are being used primarily for collaboration, content delivery, communication, and accessing learning materials. The economic advantages, speed, agility, flexibility and elasticity are the main reasons higher education is increasingly adopting SaaS.

Colleges and universities are turning to public clouds for flexibility and cost savings. Higher-ed IT managers need to store—and share—vast quantities of data. As analytics and big data technologies facilitate ever-more-complex analyses, the volume of student information and research data in higher ed continues to skyrocket. IT managers are increasingly choosing to augment on-premises data centers with highly scalable public cloud storage. These solutions offer faster deployment and are more efficient and cost-effective.…Read More

5 keys to implementing cyber education at your school

Cybercrimes are growing exponentially, posing tremendous threats to our financial markets, undermining public confidence, violating our privacy, and costing hundreds of billions of dollars annually (estimated to cost up to six trillion dollars by 2021). Malicious cyberattacks are also used by government-led groups and terror organizations, inflicting chaos and fear, threatening critical infrastructure and nations’ stability.

It’s no wonder cyber professionals are in great demand in every walk of life. Contrary to common belief, cybersecurity is much more than a technical challenge. It is also a business challenge and a human challenge.

As a result, cybersecurity education has become one of the fastest growing disciplines in higher ed and vocational training. Building the cybersecurity workforce of the future and integrating cybersecurity awareness across all industries are top priorities for our national security, financial stability, and economic prosperity.…Read More

Going beyond the hype: How AI can be used to make a difference

Reference to artificial intelligence (AI) has become strategic in higher-ed discourse, joining the terms “big data” and “predictive modeling.” When I was introduced to AI in 2013 by a member of our design team, it captivated my imagination. Since then, as our data grew to proportions that were ripe for AI, I’ve become enthralled by its potential to enrich the accuracy and personalization that leads to better outcomes. That does not make me an expert.

If anything, it could make me equal to all out there who have wondered what these terms actually mean, how they matter to education, and where to draw the line between hype and results.

Defining the terms…Read More

How to maintain the balance between security and privacy

We’re in a unique moment in history, where the negative consequences of organizations tracking our digital traffic are painfully clear. It’s certainly understandable that “security measures” can seem to many people more like intrusive surveillance than personal protection. But a lack of defenses will also have negative consequences for our safety and feeling of trust.

What can security professionals in higher ed do to maintain the balance between safety and privacy? Is it possible to maintain trust in the institution and yet enable users to explore safely?

The importance of context…Read More

A quick look at cloud terminology

The cloud may be easier and more affordable than advertised, but it isn’t free. Still, computing horsepower is finally a virtual (or, perhaps more appropriately, a virtualization) bargain. It’s entirely possible for your college or university to spend $10K a month and tap enough power to drive a 1,000-user organization. That’s less than the cost of hiring a single engineer (even if it may sound like overkill, especially given today’s budget realities).

It’s essential to place your applications and data in a maximum-security environment. Hosting plans should be designed expressly to deliver both data integrity and data protection, deploying technologies such as clustered firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention software, which is capable of detecting threats to sensitive client data that even the best firewall won’t catch. And as cyber threats become ever more insidious, those in higher education are looking to implement systems that go well beyond basic malware and antivirus “solutions.”

In IT, as in higher education, language is everything. Teaching undergraduates is tough enough; most university administrators would prefer not to wade into the fog of IT, especially given just how obtuse the tech world has become. Familiarizing yourself with some basic terminology won’t turn you into an expert but it can provide a grounding in the fundamentals. With that in mind, let’s look under the hood and decipher some of the more pervasive and vexing terms.…Read More

3 proven ways to improve higher-ed collaboration

Collaboration across departments has been identified as the fundamental differentiator in achieving strategic objectives in not only the business community but also in higher education. Today’s challenging higher-ed environment can benefit from more collaboration, particularly between IT, business, and finance leaders.

The EDUCAUSE/NACUBO 2017 Enterprise IT Summit identified four main areas that can markedly enhance collaboration:

  • development of institutional relationships and partnerships
  • improvement of analytics and data governance initiatives
  • a forward -thinking leadership team to align unit goals with university goals
  • cultivation of a better understanding of IT costs and strategic value

eCampus News highlighted one example that showcased the fruits of collaboration at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia, where IT, finance, and housing collaborated to transform the campus into one of the most digitally connected campuses of its size. Business Officer magazine wrote about a private university where close collaboration between the vice president for advancement and chief business officer during a capital campaign allowed the vice president to tie his asks to strategic initiatives. By working together, they devised a feasible multi-year capital and operating budget that furthers the work of both divisions.…Read More

3 best practices for managing student travel

It’s a familiar challenge for colleges and universities sending students, faculty, and staff on off-campus trips: how to ensure travelers’ health and safety while minimizing security risks. Students study abroad or travel regionally for group events; faculty attend conferences or travel for research purposes. However, it is difficult to predict when crisis situations may arise. From natural disasters to violence and health outbreaks, the list of possible off-campus crisis situations can be overwhelming and fraught with communication disruptions and confusion as events unfold.

As a result, many higher-education institutions are updating their student and faculty travel protocols. This includes using technology to maintain real-time connections with travelers and provide them with emergency resources to be used in the moment of need. It is no longer enough to send travelers with a printout of emergency numbers and instructions. Managing today’s higher-ed travel risks requires ongoing communication. Here are three best practices.

1. Set risk-management expectations…Read More

Classroom tech is reshaping the campus experience

In the rapidly evolving world of science, universities are creating a standard of technology in the classroom. Technology not only produces high-quality education through time-saving applications and effective communications, it also makes life easier for the user and can ultimately be incredibly cost-effective.

Centralized management technology is one area seeing increased adoption in classroom settings. By creating a centralized management system, universities can simplify the monitoring and management of on-campus technology.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has implemented a centralized management system and standardized technology usage across campus. Streamlined and easy-to-use technology offerings help students and faculty achieve their academic and professional goals while making troubleshooting and maintenance easy for the IT department. “As the unit responsible for supporting multimedia across all of our sites and rooms, it was critical for us to have the ability to deliver the quality of service that’s expected of us,” says Don Merritt, director of the office of instructional resources.…Read More

How to prevent a phishing attack

You know that email you once received from a friend or colleague that clearly wasn’t sent by him or her? More than 90 percent of all cyberattacks begin with this kind of phishing email. Unfortunately, higher education is no stranger to phishing. In March 2017, Coastal Carolina University revealed it lost more than $1M to a phishing scam. The attackers succeeded in the theft by masquerading as a company with a contractual relationship with the university. In an official-looking email, the phony sender requested changes to the university’s bank information. An employee complied, and the rest is history.

Phishing and spoofing attacks against students and staff are most likely when these three items are not properly in place:

  • a Sender Policy Framework (SPF), which is an email-validation system that detects spoofing attempts. (Spoofing is when a third party disguises itself as a particular sender and uses a counterfeit email address.)
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and/or Domain-based Message Authentication: DKIM uses an encrypted token pair to validate message integrity during sending and delivery.
  • a Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) policy, which is considered the industry standard for email policy and reporting tools that help to prevent such attacks.

250ok recently analyzed the 3,164 top-level .edu domains controlled by accredited U.S. colleges and universities. The scope of this study focused on DMARC adoption and found that almost 90 percent (3,211) of top-level .edu domains in the U.S. lack the most basic DMARC policy, which leaves students, parents, alumni, and employees at risk.…Read More