Keeping up with the Changing Education Landscape

By Jason Ball, CIO & Associate VP, Florida Atlantic University

Jason Ball, CIO & Associate VP, Florida Atlantic University

Role of CIOs

Today’s CIO is no longer simply the caretaker of infrastructure and applications, but integral to developing solutions to institutional priorities well beyond the Information Technology infrastructure (e.g., Student Success Initiatives, Communication Strategies, etc.).

Benefits of Cloud Computing For the Education Industry

Cloud technologies are becoming the standard delivery method for educational activities. They have led to more rapid innovation and have freed up valuable human capital to work on more strategic efforts. At Florida Atlantic University many of our strategic applications have already moved to the cloud, including our Finance and Human Capital Management System, our Learning Management System, our Advising System and our Lecture Capture solutions.  

Enabling Staragic Decision Making

We have made significant strides in improving data quality and developing meaningful self-service dashboards and tools to empower the stakeholders to access the data they need to support strategic decision making. We have established data governance procedures to ensure data integrity and consistent data definitions and usage.

“It is paramount to ensure training opportunities aligned to both IT staff and the University community are thoughtful, targeted, and available, and in multiple modalities”

Technology Prevailing

A strong change management emphasis is needed to help the campus adapt to the rapid pace of change. Not only are product shifts occurring, but with cloud offerings, the rate of change within applications themselves is changing. This requires a solid, aggressive plan to track, communicate, and promote features and new requirements. It is paramount to ensure training opportunities aligned to both IT staff and the University community are thoughtful, targeted, and available, and in multiple modalities. With the shift to cloud services, greater emphasis has to be placed on contracts, which become the sole remedy for ensuring reliability and quality of service. As the move to cloud and mobile presentation of services continues, additional secure, real-time integration capabilities must be part of the core requirements of any application or service.

Enhancing Roles with Changing Times

There is an ever-increasing demand to improve operating efficiencies along with improving and re-imagining how services are provided. In addition, I have been heavily involved in overhauling the data infrastructure as the institution has put an emphasis on data-driven decision making.

Evolving Education Landscape

In the last few years we have nearly replaced our entire core infrastructure of applications because of the demand for modern, efficient systems. As the required interactions with students are ever increasing, the need for modern, intuitive systems is vital. In order to meet this demand, a highly skilled and adaptable workforce is required.

Wave of Digitalization

The biggest challenge is the backend systems and how ready they are to work in a digital or mobile environment. New product selection must include these requirements as part of the selection criteria. With existing systems, decisions to replace or adapt these systems must be considered on a cost-benefit basis and the relative strategic impact on the organization.

A Word for CIOs

Be adaptable. Attract and retain a highly skilled, adaptable workforce of IT professionals who will help develop a modern infrastructure to meet the ever-changing needs of the academic environment.

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