In an earlier post, we shared the ways the University of North Carolina at Pembroke built a culture of security to help safeguard the campus community. Take a look.

The campus community at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke is passionate about its mission: “Changing Lives Through Education.” Changing lives starts by ensuring that everyone on campus has what they need to overcome what might traditionally be obstacles to success. This can start with technology.

“In many cases, the barriers our students faced included limited access to resources for learning. In fact, for many of our students, this is their first real experience with technology,” says Kevin Pait, interim associate vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer at UNCP. “Through the careful, planned application of tools and technology, we facilitate the accessibility and collaboration our students need. Anytime one of our users encounters a technical issue, that’s another barrier. Our goal is to eliminate anything that impedes teaching and learning.”

Consider these best practices that help facilitate success at UNCP.

1. Keep the mission in mind. Everyone at UNCP is committed to Changing Lives Through Education. The technology strategy the university developed, plus the services it deployed, help fulfill that mission. Watch an overview video, or read the UNCP story here.

2. Communicate and collaborate. UNCP’s IT team worked closely with university administrators, faculty, and staff throughout the planning and implementation processes. They gathered input and shared use cases, success stories, and a commitment to being careful stewards of university resources. Through this engagement, key decision makers understood the value of the new capabilities, as well as the importance of ongoing investments to ensure that technology keeps pace with evolving needs.

3. Make your staff the “secret sauce.” UNCP’s IT team is small but mighty, and staff size is a key element of IT strategy. Former CIO Nancy Crouch said, “It’s easy to find a solution that may cost less, but there is no value if we’re unable to support that investment ourselves—or if our team can’t build their expertise as part of the process. We’re always prepared to scale, whether that’s to accommodate the thousands of student devices trying to access the network, or whether that’s to grow our team’s skill set.”

UNCP makes the most efficient use of its small, talented IT team with technology investments like those in Cisco Meraki. Cisco Meraki was simple to deploy and allowed team members to do the work themselves even as implementation expanded across campus. Pait notes that the team can deploy new access points on demand. “Network analysts can deploy Meraki with ease, enabling our team to continue operations, provide quality services, and deploy wireless at the same time,” he says. “We have high-density coverage in all classrooms and haven’t had any performance issues since installing Meraki.” Pait highlights the solution’s performance and ease of management, maintenance, and operations as other significant advantages. Learn more about UNCP’s Cisco Meraki deployment.

It’s easy to find a solution that may cost less, but there is no value if we’re unable to support that investment ourselves—or if our team can’t build their expertise as part of the process.

In addition, an integrated, automated security portfolio helps UNCP’s small IT team address emerging cyber threats. UNCP CISO Don Bryant shared his best practices in this EDUCAUSE 2019 session: Small Team, Big Impact: How UNCP Built a Security Culture. Missed the session? Watch the Facebook Live recording.

Then, find out how universities like UNCP are increasing student success with high-density Wi-Fi in this Facebook Live recording from EDUCAUSE 2019.

4. Identify a technology-savvy faculty lead. Faculty may be apprehensive about technology and change but identifying a faculty lead to communicate the advantages of a new technology can help ease anxiety and allow for broader adoption and acceptance of new teaching tools and resources. Additionally, collaborating with a faculty lead who’s comfortable with technology can assist IT in identifying and resolving technology issues in the classroom.

One technology advocate at UNCP is Dr. Joe West, assistant professor of political science and public administration. West came to UNCP from the private sector, where he worked for more than three decades as an electrical engineer. He uses Cisco Webex in his classes to provide all students—including those who attend class online—with a common experience.  “Webex Teams and the Webex Board have taken class engagement to a completely new level, providing interesting and accessible new ways to view course material and interact, and making the experience better for all of us,” he says. “With this technology, I’m able to create a single, yet expansive, learning environment.” Watch this video to learn more about how collaboration technologies are improving the student experience at UNCP.

For more best practices, visit cisco.com/go/education.



Donna Eason

Global Customer Marketing Writer