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Whither the IT Staff: Providing a Network without Engineers

[cue Twilight Zone theme music]

Imagine, if you will, a campus, one that has more than 50 buildings across 1,400 acres, with a wired and wireless network that supports voice, video, data, alarms, and other services. Now imagine that the network team disappears—vanished into retirement or to jobs elsewhere—and efforts to rehire those positions fail. What do you do? How do you operate a network without any network engineers?

EDUCAUSE Sprint 2013, Day 3: An Eye on Today, an Eye on Tomorrow

On the third and final day of the EDUCAUSE Sprint 2013, the conversation turned to “Creating the IT Architecture for the Connected Age,” after hearing about IT as a force of change on the first day and the effect of technology on pedagogy on the second. Even though the Sprint was designed as an exploration beyond MOOCs, MOOCs are nonetheless the catalyst for the conversation about higher education’s future and the evolution from an information age into a connected age.

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EDUCAUSE Sprint 2013, Day 2: The Ways We Learn

Higher education has been living with various forms of nonresidential teaching and learning for a long time. Beginning with correspondence courses as long ago as 1728 and moving into other media as new technologies emerged—radio, television, the telephone, recorded audio and video, the Internet—learners and teachers have been finding ways to connect, and entities that provide education or accredit educators or decide what credentials to accept have had to reconcile the many forms of distance learning with “standard” education. “Standard,” of course, refers to the model in which someone who knows something stands (or sits) in front of a group of individuals who do not know that something and tells them that which they do not know. And then they know it, if they were paying attention.

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EDUCAUSE Sprint 2013, Day 1: Of Higher Education and Gateways

In the debate about recreational drugs, an oft-heard argument is that certain substances, while perhaps not terribly dangerous in their own right, should nonetheless be avoided because they have the potential to lead you down a path to harder drugs. The likelihood with which illegal substances lead to addiction for worse illegal substances is a topic for another day, but I do believe in the gateway effect. I also know that gateways can lead to bad things or to good things. Think about the gateway that running is for some people. You start jogging to lose some weight. Soon you’re running every day. Then your running pals take you to the pool to do some laps, and before you know it, you’re competing in triathlons every weekend. There are also gateway vegetables. Asparagus or broccoli might lead you to kohlrabi and Jerusalem artichokes, and for some, gateway vegetables lead all the way to vegetarianism.

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EDUCAUSE Analytics Sprint, Day 3 Recap: Analytics for Enterprise Efficiency and Effectiveness


Thursday, the third and final day of the EDUCAUSE Analytics Sprint. Today we heard about enterprise-level activities to support analytics at the University of Washington (UW) and at Arizona State University (ASU). By now, everyone knows that analytics programs depend on good data, and we all know that at most institutions, ensuring appropriate access to reliable data is not trivial. As was noted today, colleges and universities are “loose confederations of guilds” in which people tend to fiercely guard their data.

EDUCAUSE Analytics Sprint, Day 2 Recap: Analytics for Teaching, Learning, and Student Success


The focus of today’s Sprint activities moved from general issues for higher education into the area of teaching and learning, an area that seemed to strike participants as either the most or the least reasonable place to apply analytics. On the one hand, teaching is the core mission of every college and university, and if using data in new ways can benefit an institution’s teaching, who wouldn’t support that? On the other hand, the magic of learning depends on subtleties and dynamics that can’t be reduced to numbers, doesn’t it?

Let’s step back from that cliff for a moment. Consider these points:

EDUCAUSE Analytics Sprint, Day 1 Recap: What Does Analytics Mean for Higher Education?


The EDUCAUSE Analytics Sprint kicked off today, with the theme “What Does Analytics Mean for Higher Education?” A broad question, indeed, reflected in the wide-ranging comments and discussion, both in today’s webinar and in the many side and back channels of communication. Sprint participants shared their thoughts and concerns about issues including:

Gearing Up for the Analytics Sprint

Probably the only person who hasn’t heard people whispering or shouting about analytics is the guy who fell into a vat of liquid nitrogen in 1847 and was just thawed back into sentience. He’s too busy coming to grips with cars and reality television. For the rest of us, analytics has quickly become a hot—if murky—topic of discussion and speculation. Institutions are talking analytics, vendors are talking analytics, and EDUCAUSE is talking analytics, including a recent piece by Diana Oblinger.

Analytics is a many-splendored thing. Depending whom you ask, analytics is...

Mobile Computing 5-Day Sprint: Day 4 Recap -- Security, Privacy, and Policy

Thursday’s installment of the EDUCAUSE Mobile Computing 5-Day Sprint took up knotty questions of security, privacy, and policy for mobile computing. Most of us don’t have a deep understanding of computer security in the first place, and we’re even further out of our element trying to unravel the complexities of mobile security. Is it safe to pay your mortgage using a smartphone app? Is your phone tracking where you go? If you watch the Royal Wedding in the middle of the night on a university-owned iPad, will the network admin know about it? Will he tell anyone?

And so participants were eager to hear from security experts and share their ideas and experiences.

It’s All the Same, Except the Parts That Are Different

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Mobile Computing 5-Day Sprint: Day 3 Recap—Mobile Enterprise Integration

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On Wednesday, the EDUCAUSE Mobile Computing 5-Day Sprint unmoored itself from discussions that largely concerned the “why” of mobile computing and ventured into the waters of “how.” Moving from mobile potential to the brass tacks of making it happen changes the tenor of the conversation. Excitement about mobile computing morphs into determination to ask the right questions and make careful decisions to provide a terrific mobile experience.

Let Students Show the Way