by Kacy Zurkus

The 6 best things at Campus Tech 2015

Aug 11, 2015

From online platforms for collecting and assessing student data to user virtualization, here are some highlights of the products and workshops at the Campus Technology 2015 conference.

Boston Public Garden 151720465
Credit: Thinkstock

The 22nd annual education technology conference, Campus Technology 2015, took place in Boston the last week of July. It brought together some of the most influential leaders in technology for higher education and offered innovative solutions to the myriad of challenges for IT professionals, faculty, staff and students.

Whether attendees were looking to learn more about online and blended learning or end-user virtualization, the four-day conference was ripe with opportunity to find advice, solutions, or products for all things technology on the college campus.

Meeting the needs of today’s students means understanding teaching and learning in the digital age, but it also demands an understanding of IT management, policy and cybersecurity. The modern learner functions on multiple devices, which means that IT professionals in higher education are challenged with protecting against vulnerabilities related to BYOD and mobile devices. The conference offered solutions to those challenges, and more. Here are some highlights from the workshops and exhibition floor.

1. Get off the old Internet!

John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) advised that every enterprise turn IPv6 on for its public facing website. “Your website will perform better if connected to the Internet with both an IPv4 and IPv6 address,” Curran says. Many campuses have acquired the additional IPv6 address, but if they haven’t, Curran says, “You’re on the old Internet. If you don’t have your website on IPv6, you don’t have direct connection with your customers.” 

Having both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses provides better analytics and better performance, but be sure to also upgrade the operating systems, software and network management tools for the website.

2. Cybersecurity: Protecting data on a campus full of devices

In “Re-evaluating cybersecurity in higher education” – a panel discussion with Christian Hamer, CISO at Harvard University – Lysa Myers, a security researcher at ESET Security, talked about the common threats for cybersecurity attacks for colleges and universities. Myers said, “Layering in depth and encryption of data at rest and across the network is important. As more [data] moves into the cloud, look at securing data instead of securing devices.”

[Related: How higher education deals with security threats]

Both Hamer and Myers warned against being the department of No. “Be the trusted advisor. Training early and often is essential because the information needs to be repeated.”  Myers said the message that “Good security is part of good privacy,” reminds end users that they have a stake in security, too, and “being cautious about their information protects the university as well.”

3. To Google or not to Google?

Rob Zdrojewski, an adjunct professor at Canisius College, demonstrated the sundry applications available to teachers through Google’s platform. From creating surveys that collect data in real time to slideshows and word processing, Google and Google Classroom have made teaching in the digital age easier for educators. Before deploying a campus-wide Google initiative, IT professionals should be sure that they are in compliance with FERPA and HIPAA laws and other privacy regulations.

4. Will educators scream bravo for Grovo?

Grovo is both an online resource as well as a video training platform, and is heavily invested in professional development for educators. Its director of education, Andy Auerbach, says, “Our platform is a learning management system where teachers can customize learning, manage users and track progress. We can build certificate programs around the competencies you deem most important.” It’s not just aimed at the higher ed space, either; Grovo’s coursework may also appeal to organizations looking to help their employees or teams learn new digital skills.

5. Going digital with event planning

Guidebook proffers an easy way for universities and organizations to build a mobile guide for just about anything. Sareena Helton, account executive at GuidebookEDU, talked about Guidebook’s campus apps, which help take the logistical pain out of organizing everything from freshman orientation to alumni events.

“If you’re looking to connect people with your message on their mobile phones, there is no other solution that is as simple and as fast,” said Helton. Boasting what Helton referred to as an “insanely user-friendly” set of tools, “Guidebook Builder takes the technical difficulty out of building an app, gives you unbelievable control over your events and offers precise insight into your users’ behaviors.”

6. Why pay for cable when the university has a network?

Philo is an Internet TV amenity for campuses that lets students watch TV on almost every device, including laptops, tablets, smartphones and even television sets themselves. 

Philo’s Garren Hilow noted that the experience includes HD picture, social features and network DVR, allowing students to watch recordings across devices while they’re connected to the campus network. “We work on top of your current cable or satellite TV provider to enable an amenity that students love.”

According to Hilow, such Ivy League schools as Harvard and Brown have already embraced Philo, and more than 30 other colleges and universities are poised to follow suit.