Re-examining a Quality Higher Education

As digitalization permeates classrooms, modern IT and cable infrastructures drive quality.

GUEST COLUMN | by Sean Graham

CREDIT FNT image.pngIt’s no surprise that technology is changing how students learn and how administrators deliver education.

A recent report from McGraw Hill Education found that 81 percent of students on college campuses use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to study.

While mobile devices have given students the freedom of studying and completing homework from anywhere and at any time, these technologies often create challenges for educators.

The average college student actually owns more than five internet-connected devices including smartphones, notebooks and tablets.

Education CIOs say 49 percent of their business processes have been impacted by digital opportunities or threats, and expect that to increase to 82 percent in five years.

Digital business is driving change in all industries, and higher education is no exception.

To keep pace with the evolving education sector, schools must provide classroom settings that allow for more digital, mobile and technology-based learning environments. Educating the twenty-first century workforce requires a twenty-first century IT infrastructure.

Emerging Trends

As every student has the desire to be connected 24/7, the bring your own device (BYOD) trend has become the new norm.

The 2017 College Explorer Report from Refuel Agency found the average college student actually owns more than five internet-connected devices including smartphones, notebooks and tablets.

The report also found that students use these devices as often as 137+ hours a week. This puts added pressure on an institution’s IT infrastructure as they must maintain uninterrupted service while capacity demands rise.

Institutions must implement secure networks that can support the wide range of devices being brought to campuses.

Another trend that is sweeping across institutions involves incorporating new business models and alternative delivery formats both inside and outside the classroom.

Schools are aspiring to provide future students with options that are more likely to be a fit with their personal educational needs, family situations and budgets.

As one size does not fit all when it comes to education, schools are diversifying their program offerings and experimenting with new teaching methods. That being said, IT infrastructures must be capable of incorporating these new elements and adapting to student and industry demands as needed.

Transforming IT Infrastructure

As digitalization permeates all areas of the campus, IT infrastructures are working at full capacity. To ensure quality education, institutions must transform their IT and cable infrastructure into a modern technological system that has the flexibility to adapt to the evolving needs of student, faculty and administration.

There are three essential capabilities an IT infrastructure management system must have to ensure uninterrupted campus services, provide services more efficiently and at a lower cost: Documentation, Management, and Planning.

  1. Document

For deep visibility into IT infrastructure, systems should include a central data repository of up-to-date and accurate information about every physical asset and how they are all connected.

  1. Manage

To ensure all assets are functioning optimally and to avoid service interruptions, systems should detect problems in real-time and have processes in place to resolve potential issues.

  1. Plan

To enable modifications to any service, systems should be flexible to incorporate new assets and processes as needed.

Network and infrastructure managers often face two main challenges.

They must maintain a high-performing infrastructure that can withstand the demands of increasing service delivery complexity, and they must create a flexible technology environment capable of enabling the introduction of new services.

Since campuses consist of many buildings and are spread out over an expansive area, technologies across the campus are often not harmonized. This makes documentation, service provisioning and monitoring of the system and all its assets crucial to ensure processes run smoothly.

Transforming IT infrastructure into an agile asset that easily accommodates new elements into the extended education ecosystem will cast the institution as a leader in digital business transformation.

The Education Ecosystem

Ultimately, choosing the right solution to manage IT infrastructure makes all the difference.

To deliver best-in-class technology services, you need a best-in-class IT management system that provides uninterrupted service, even as capacity demands are growing exponentially.

The ability to add new elements into the education ecosystem, especially those that enable you to expand your share of the online education market is essential. Additionally, IT infrastructures must be able to support huge increases in mobile data capacity.

A complete IT management system will also simplify future construction projects, ensuring they are completed on time and within budget, by informing IT managers where every asset and connection is located.

Lastly, by reducing OPEX, supplementary funds will be made available so that institutions can invest in other critical areas.

Delivering Quality Services

Overall, education leaders today are not only looking for ways in which technology can reduce costs and drive efficiencies, they are also exploring how technology can enhance competitive advantages and support emerging business models.

While the dissemination of digital devices creates new challenges that educational institutions must resolve to keep pace with the evolving education sector, schools are adapting and aligning their program portfolios to meet student and industry demand.

An IT management solution enables education leaders to transform their institution’s IT and cable infrastructure and expand its services to keep pace with emerging needs.

By providing both traditional and expanded services more efficiently and at lower costs, IT infrastructure will fully support the institution’s main mission of delivering quality education.

Sean Graham, General Manager of FNT Software’s office in Parsippany, New Jersey, is responsible for operations in North America. FNT Software is a leading provider of integrated software solutions for IT management, data center infrastructure management and telecommunication infrastructure management worldwide.

 

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