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#HigherEdThursdays: Current Trends and Challenges in Higher Education

April 17, 2014 at 7:46 am PST

We are all seeing colleges and universities across the nation experiencing a massive disruption in how they deliver quality learning experiences to their students.  Those that continue down the path of status quo will miss this shift and become obsolete at best and out of business at best.  In his New York Times article, “Innovation Imperative: Change Everything,” Clayton Christensen says, “Like steam, online education is a disruptive innovation — one that introduces more convenient and affordable products or services that over time transform sectors.”

Changing delivery and business models have become part of the competitive landscape, but they also offer new sources of revenue and expense control for colleges and universities. Education delivery is changing in multiple ways, with increased cross registration in online courses, a growing focus on competency based models, new hybrid and online models, flipped learning, and moves to unbundling educational services, potentially increasing mobility across institutions. The rapid rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has also accelerated the pace of change in online delivery models over the last two years. Over the next several years, navigating this landscape will have economic impacts, both positive and negative. It will also force institutions to become more nimble in their strategic positioning. (Moody’s: 2014 Outlook US Higher Education). Read More »

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How Next Generation WLAN Optimizes RoboCup at Bowdoin College

February 19, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

Bowdoin College is a liberal arts college based in the town of Brunswick, Maine. It houses 1839 students in about 100 buildings and offers 33 different majors and 4 minors. The Bowdoin IT Team are pioneering in nature as would be expected from the state whose motto, “Dirigo”, translates to “I lead”; adopting bleeding-edge best-in-class technologies to provide the optimal connected experience for students, faculty, staff and guests. This is counter-balanced with pragmatism in phasing the roll-out of these services.

This next generation pervasive WLAN network enables students to collaborate with each other anywhere on the campus and with the teachers in the classroom. In the previous blog in 2012, we described how Bowdoin upgraded to 3602 Access Points and used the innovative CleanAir technology tie-in with Event Driven Radio Resource Monitoring to optimize WLAN coverage. They also adopted the Cisco Prime and ISE 1.2 for manageability and consistent wired-wireless Policy respectively. In this blog, we will cover more details about the recent upgrade of the Wireless LAN Controller from the previous model WiSM to the new model 5760 and describe highlights of our conversation with Jason and Trevor about the WLAN deployment itself.

bowdoin1 Read More »

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Using Advanced Technology to Build a 21st Century University Experience

Tom Hull at TechConnect

Florida Polytechnic University Vice President and CIO Tom Hull joined Cisco Vice President Pat Finn via TelePresence at the CSN Tech Connection at the College of Southern Nevada on January 15th.

As Florida Polytechnic University’s Chief Information Officer, my job is to ensure the University uses modern and emerging technologies to offer our students experiential learning opportunities. The higher education industry is undergoing a paradigm shift in which technology for teaching and learning is a part of the educational ecosystem and something that students expect. At Florida Poly, we need to use these technologies to give students the best learning experience possible.

Our Vision for the Future

Florida Poly’s vision is to be a bright star in the high-tech corridor we’re building in Central Florida, creating a Silicon Valley-like environment. We’re going to accomplish this vision by building an extremely modern campus (probably the most modern in the United States) with technologically advanced features available to students and faculty. In addition to the features our campus itself will offer, we have applied research, a bright faculty leading advanced programs and higher education partnerships with industry organizations to help us accomplish our mission and vision.

Our university’s architecture will be student-centric, and our technological foundation will be a Florida Poly cloud that includes all emerging technology in the world of higher education. This cloud will be accessible to both students and faculty and will feature a student information system that will provide an easy way for students, faculty and staff to obtain resources. This cloud will also include a virtual library environment that has access to digital databases and research repositories, essentially replacing the traditional library system. Read More »

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Guest Blog: Migrating High Density University Networks to 802.11ac

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Joe Rogers, Associate Director of Network Engineering for the University of South Florida (USF). Hear Joe speak about his experiences with next-generation wireless in high density environments on next Tuesday’s webinar:  “Migrating Enterprise Networks to 802.11ac” at 10am PST (Dec 17) (Register here)

Joe RogersJoe Rogers is the Associate Director of Network Engineering for the University of South Florida.  He is a graduate of USF’s Computer Science and Engineering program and has worked as a network engineer at USF for the past 20 years.  He is currently responsible for all aspects of USF’s network which provides connectivity to over 100k devices across three campuses.  He’s held a CCIE routing and switching certification since 1999.  When not working, he’s an avid mountain biker (if you can call it “mountain” biking when you live in Florida).

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Universities face some of the most complex design challenges in wireless networking.  Our user population is highly mobile, bandwidth-hungry, and often simultaneously using at least two wireless devices in rooms with hundreds of their classmates.  The wireless network isn’t simply a convenience to them.  It’s critical to their educational success as many of the students are taking tests or working on assignments across the network.

At the University of South Florida, we support over 20,000 concurrent wireless users on our network of over 4,000 access points.  We have more than 90,000 unique devices registered this semester.  Our biggest challenge is designing the wireless network for the device densities in our large classrooms and popular study areas.  In these locations, we often have a thousand devices in a few hundred square feet of space.

We heavily rely on band select to place as many devices as possible on 5Ghz where more channels are available.  Unfortunately many devices such as older tablets and smart phones simply don’t have an 802.11a/n radio.  So we must carefully RF engineer the environment with smaller cells to provide the necessary coverage density. Read More »

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Educause: Bringing Together Technology and Education to Invest in Our Future

It’s amazing to think about the way a traditional classroom operated only a few years ago.  As Renee Patton recently pointed out in her blog post, there were rules, there were barriers, and they were all kept within the confines of an educational institution.  As technology has advanced, those rules have been challenged, barriers overcome, and an entirely new era of learning has emerged.

The collaborative nature of education, educators and learners has allowed new technologies to thrive and innovation to accelerate.  We’re flipping classrooms, implementing mobile learning programs and developing entirely new ways for students to connect and engage.  And we’re looking with excitement toward a future that will continually change the way we teach and learn. Read More »

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