More colleges and universities are realizing that providing reliable wireless connections on campus may no longer be enough to satisfy expectations of students, staff and faculty.
Students who grew up with “always-on connectivity” are bringing more connected devices with them to campus than ever before. The need for better connectivity also comes at a time when college administrators are looking to technology to help them increase enrollment and retention, as well as engage students in new and interesting ways in and outside the lecture hall.
Newer cloud-based network platforms can enable institutions to be more proactive in helping students get the most out of their campus experience, says Tony Carmichael, product manager of APIs and developer ecosystems at Cisco Meraki, in a new podcast produced by EdScoop.
Among his top recommendations, he urges higher education IT leaders to invest in more open standard, cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions. They are proving to be more nimble and can reduce overhead costs while improving reliability of campus networks.
“Just like a building, once the plumbing is in place it’s difficult to replace. So, you want to select something that [the] IT team can benefit from in that simplistic model for management,” says Carmichael in the podcast, which was underwritten by Cisco Meraki. If institutions can deploy a cloud-managed network quickly and integrate it with its existing systems, his experience shows that IT will be able to focus more on the student’s experience, rather than “keeping the lights on.”
“Larger institutions are often complex, [with] lots of components and elements that all need to work together,” explains Carmichael. “This is where an open API ecosystem can really give you secure, high-speed access to cloud-based resources, data, monitoring and telemetry.”
He cites one example of how a mid-tier university, with roughly 14,000 students across 30 locations, deployed and integrated Meraki cloud-managed wireless into its infrastructure within a month; a fraction of the time it would have taken using more traditional methods.
Additionally, administrators can start taking advantage of a growing number of products that measure, report and analyze how engaged students are “with this modern, open extensible network that’s available throughout the campus,” Carmichael says.
Lastly, Carmichael recommends that college and university leaders keep in mind the way that learning has changed. If leaders understand the growing pressure on IT teams to operate modern environment, they can ensure they have the resources they need to include add-ons that enhance a student’s experience.
This podcast was produced by EdScoop and underwritten by Cisco Meraki.