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Architecting Education with Modern Technology

By Nelson C. Vincent, EdD, VP for Technology and CIO, University of Cincinnati

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Nelson C. Vincent, EdD, VP for Technology and CIO, University of Cincinnati

When you think of’IT’, what first comes to mind? For many of us, IT conjures words like ’technology’ or ’tools’. For oth­ers, it can be words like ’data’,’soft­ware’,’computer’,or ’device’.

There is a misconception out there that IT is all about tools,and to some extent, this is true. IT does not have much room to grow without the tools to bring our visions to life. But I’d like to offer another perspective— IT is really about people. IT’s about helping people and empowering them to do their respective jobs in a new way.

“Technology Is No Longer An Optional Part Of Higher Education.”

One of the biggest areas of recent growth has been the cloud. Cloud computing allows our students, faculty, and staff to easily store, share, manage, and access important information online anytime, anywhere, using any device. This shift in both the accessibility of and the demand for technology is changing the way educators think about tech as it relates to the classroom.

Technology is no longer an optional part of higher education. Nationally, 92percent of 18-to-29- yearolds own a Smartphone, and 90 percent of courses taught at our university utilize some form of enterprise technology. We rely on technology to operate and innovate.

The decision to move to the cloud, however, is as much a financial conversation as it is a technical and security conversation. How do we innovate without creating financial barriers to those who will use our tools and services? How will we implement this change successfully and securely?

Many higher education institutions face the same challenges, especially as we strive to meet student and faculty expectations and best practices without increasing costs. I have learned that to succeed, we need to be able to understand where our partners are coming from—we need to practice empathy and engagement and be willing to compromise. IT has a commitment to serve, to lead, and to partner. Collaborations and partnerships produce a more sustainable, efficient enterprise information technology operation.

Listening, validating, and agreeing about the desired outcomes is imperative. Building trust in one another and combining that trust with a commitment to transparent communication and decision-making help us move forward.

We implemented Box at UC, which more than two years ago marked an important milestone on our journey to the cloud. The service provides students, faculty, and staff with unlimited cloud-based storage and the ability to collaborate with partners inside and outside the institution. Outside of the classroom, our partners on the research side of the house saw Box as a valuable tool for research collaborations. But concerns about ensuring the security and compliance of sensitive research data in the cloud prevented widespread adoption. We listened to one another and planned a shared solution that allows Box account holders to securely store and share restricted data per our Data Protection Policy.

When it comes to investments in technological advancements, IT takes a village. We count on our partnerships with students, faculty, staff, and the technical community to implement the solutions that best support the academic and research mission of the university.

Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati offers students a balance of educational excellence and real-world experience with the help of excellent faculty, staff, and modern technology.

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