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#HigherEdThursdays – Meeting the Community College Boom

For the past five years we’ve witnessed a surge in demand for community colleges across the U.S. The reasons for this demand are varied. There are professionals who have been let go from work, there are adult learners who desire new skills and there are traditional students continuing their education in greater numbers.

Much of the growth in enrollment can be contributed to students going online to get degrees. According to Instructional Technology Council, online enrollment is up by over five percent between 2012 and 2013, , and with that growth come several challenges.

Both traditional and online learners demand that education be cost-effective. These students include digital natives who have learned with technology since their infancy, and they want customized education. Standardized instruction across classes is becoming a framework of the past. Read More »

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#HigherEdThursdays: Virtualizing Dual Enrollment

May 8, 2014 at 12:25 pm PST

This time of year is always exciting -- with students going off to college, coming home from college, graduating, switching majors and sometimes changing schools. It’s especially exciting when we hear stories like that of the 16 year old Florida student who received her college degree days ahead of her high school diploma.

Reading that success story this week reminded me of the importance of colleges and universities offering dual enrollment to high school students -- and how technology can make it more accessible to more students.

One example that comes to mind is that of Coastal Bend College here in Texas. They are preparing their 3,700 students, from across four campuses, for jobs in the real world. They achieve this by providing hundreds of academic classes, as well as vocational and technical training. The College also partners with local high schools in order to provide dual-enrollment courses for students who are often rural and wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate. Read More »

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#HigherEdThursdays: Changing How IT is Consumed on (and off) Campus

Universities are driving the need for IT consumption-based pricing models more than any other market segment.  This is natural given the unique characteristics of their IT environments.  First off they are at the forefront of the IT consumerization movement driven by new generations of students and work habits. With one fourth of the undergraduate population and half in most graduate programs changing every year, one can easily understand why this is the case. While BYOD has emerged in the enterprises over the past few years it has been a commonplace in higher education since campus networks were built in the 80s.  When public cloud-based applications emerged college students were the first to embrace them and driving some to a prominent position in the industry.  Facebook comes to mind.

It is not just students that make the universities very different than other markets.  On many campuses you find different layers of IT functions and associated decision making.  You have the central IT like all enterprises do.  But then you have some lines of business having their own IT function either at the college or department levels.  Most major research centers have their own IT groups especially if they house a supercomputing facility.  Some grant-funded projects make their own separate decisions on IT services unique for such projects or for very short terms needs.

So what are the pricing models the higher education market is asking for? The answer is of course consumption-based pricing models but the devil is in the details.  A simple subscription style “all-you-can eat” model may not be sufficient in most cases  (and it is not really consumption-based after all, is it?).  We see these in traditional enterprise applications that are converted to a SaaS offer. A utility style “pay-as-you-go” model while provides most flexibility might not have the cost predictability the universities require (remember long distance phone service?). Read More »

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#HigherEdThursdays: New Models for Online Learning

Mark Twain once remarked, when asked about issues related to plagiarism, “Substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources;” and so it goes with online learning.  Is there such a thing as a new model for online learning?  After all, online learning has been done, in a number of mediums, ever since video was first able to be recorded and shared.

I believe, like with anything new, the new models for online learning are essentially all “second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from…outside sources…” But what may be the most striking fact about online learning is just how popular the term, and the practice, has become: when I searched on Google for “online learning,’ I received 2,570,000 responses. Wow!

Perhaps what is most intriguing about online learning models is the growing sophistication of their design, use of learning analytics in “closed loop fashion” (where a student’s online learning behavior is reviewed and, based on what worked and what didn’t, the class or lesson is iteratively improved to be more effective for the next learner) and the use of technology to scale with quality to meet the needs of many learners – be they in one class, one school, one state or beyond. Read More »

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Driving New Network Programmability Talent Needs

Over the past year, we saw the idea of software-defined networking (SDN) become an integral part of IT conversations globally. As this technology evolves, the term “network programmability” can be used to capture the idea of opening up the network.

The Cisco Global Cloud Index predicts that two-thirds of all workloads will be processed in the cloud by 2017, and more than two-thirds of all data center traffic will come from the cloud. Companies building enterprise private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds will need qualified talent to optimize their cloud deployments for maximum efficiency.

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