Another great year at EDUCAUSE!

I love having the opportunity to connect with education leaders—hearing the successes, challenges, and opportunities from different schools across the world, and this year I certainly noticed a change. Throughout 2012 and 2013, there was a rush for schools to become more innovative on many levels—technology, curriculum, programs. It was a fantastic push in the right direction. Schools were getting creative with new learning platforms, touch screen technology, tablets for students, gameification, 3D printing—technology was on a roll! Now here we are in 2014 evaluating how to support, secure and teach with the newly implemented technologies. While the buzz around innovation will continue to grow, education IT is beginning to hone in on what aspects of technology are most important to improve the learning experience for students.

Here are the top 5 trends I noticed at EDUCAUSE 2014:

1. It’s all about the apps. VDI has been the hype for a few years now, but even with how far VDI has come, it doesn’t solve for every use case on campus. Education IT is putting the focus back on the apps and aiming to improve accessibility and performance for students, faculty, and staff. IT needs a flexible solution that will allow them to deliver any application—Windows, mobile, SaaS, web—or any desktop, to any device, over any network, which will save the school on licensing and lab costs and free students from having to buy expensive devices and software.

2. Devices are presenting challenges instead of innovation.  Many schools have implemented tablets, thin clients, 3D printers, etc. to provide the latest technology to their students—which is fantastic—but without the proper back end infrastructure to support and deliver services to these devices, they aren’t providing the value or innovation that they intended. Were tablets the right choice? Maybe they really do need keyboards. How do I keep them secure? How do I deliver AutoCAD to my thin clients without losing performance?  

3. Learning spaces need a redesign. Schools are beginning to realize that computer labs filled with rows and rows of computers aren’t working for today’s students. As we’ve discussed before, students have 3 or more mobile devices already, they just need anywhere access to resources and a space to collaborate with other students. Many schools are now decreasing or completely eliminating open use labs and transforming them into Google-esq or coffee shop-like spaces with creative learning areas and large screen monitors where students can bring their own devices and work together.

4. Campus expansion to reach more students. We are seeing schools trying to expand in multiple forms and fashions. There is no more “typical” student, so IT has to get creative and find the best method to reach students on an individual level. Some schools are doing this by opening remote campus locations to better reach students. Others are increasing the number of online class seats available. Both of these options increase the availability of learning for students, but only if the tools and resources needed to complete course work are available to them anywhere, on any device. Online and distance students need access to apps, desktops, data, and collaboration tools to help them succeed and feel more connected to their peers, professors, and school.

5. How do I make that happen? The good news for IT is that they know solutions exist for their challenges, but they aren’t always clear on how to make it happen or what the best option is—there are endless options for every challenge you’re facing today. It’s overwhelming. It’s as if you are trying to cross an ocean, but you don’t know how to build a boat or how a boat works. All you know how to do is swim, and something really big will probably eat you before you make it to the other side. You have a raft, which is a start, but that won’t get you there either. Education IT needs trusted solution partners to help build boats and navigate the big, blue, technology sea.

I hope you all enjoyed EDUCAUSE 2014. What other trends did you notice? Feel free to share in the comments or connect with me on twitter.

[Webinar – REGISTER HERE] to hear how a school like yours is tackling these trends and problems mentioned above. Citrix and the University of Central Florida will discuss how they drove leadership from the bottom up to design and implement a campus mobility strategy.

About the author

Nicole Nesrsta-Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing & Strategy, Education.
Nicole is credited as a leader in solutions and vertical marketing and strategy in the high-tech industry. At Citrix, Nicole is responsible for designing and executing global, company-wide go-to-market strategies for the education market. With a passion for solving business problems with technology solutions, Nicole has enjoyed 5 years in various solutions sales and marketing roles—targeting audiences at all levels: executive, line of business, and IT. Nicole holds a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Florida. You are welcome to connect with her via twitter.