Colleges students and their parents have high expectations — and in many cases, a few butterflies — as they prepare for a new school year. As student roll onto campuses this weekend, college and university tech pros share that feeling of excitement, perhaps mixed with a little uncertainty and a tinge of nerves. After all, what demographic is more likely to push the limits of technology than 18 to 22 year-olds. Learning today is a 24/7, always-on proposition, which brings challenges along with opportunities. Add to that the sobering reality that student safety is now everyone’s top priority — including the CIO.
To find out how CIOs prepared for the new academic year, we teamed with our partners at the CIO Executive Council and asked three IT leaders the same question.
The answers reflect the broad role technology plays in higher education. CIOs from Fordham, Arizona State and the University of Illinois talk about the agility needed to stay a step ahead of mobile-device wielding students, keep classroom connected and students engaged — as well as safe — and much more.
What's your biggest priority as students return to campus?
Frank Sirianni, vice president and CIO, Fordham University
"Today it's agility. We're constantly improving our technology services at Fordham University to ensure that when students return to campus, their experience of technology is trouble-free. But when they do encounter issues or have questions, they depend on our fast and complete response.
"Despite our research, they can surprise us with the latest and multiple devices, usually wireless.
"During the weekend move-in period and the month of September, Fordham IT's student-led IT Tiger Team is on call 24/7 in dorms and other areas on campus to answer questions and help students set up their devices. Resident Technology Consultants live in the residence halls. These students support their peers throughout the school year with workshops and basic tech assistance. And our IT Customer Care is a fully staffed department, with walk-in and call centers. They repair equipment and provide essential troubleshooting for students, as well as for faculty and staff."
Gordon Wishon, CIO, Arizona State University
"Arizona State University, one of the largest universities in the country, is preparing for the arrival of more than 80,000 students to our several campuses in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. As at other universities, the priority at this time of year is ensuring the IT infrastructure is prepared to support students' academic and residential needs — ensuring that several hundred classrooms are equipped with the latest in A/V, computing, lecture capture, student feedback, and adaptive learning technologies.
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