Nigel Longworth, CIO/VP IT, President, Herzing University
Shift from IT Centric to Student Centric Technology
Higher Education is going through many changes, including the shift from IT system-centric to student-centric technology services. Our increasing use of cloud computing supports the growing number of students shifting from face-to-face education towards either fully or hybrid online learning modalities. Today’s online students have grown up in technology and have an expectation of personalized, effective, and modern technologies utilized in the student learning experience. Cloud computing supports a more agile and responsive technology framework to support the student focused and service-oriented support framework. Cloud services have evolved from being able to support a small percentage of our technology platform to the widespread adoption across our many collaborative tools that better enable the sharing of information across our systems. Where our technology spend and energy used to be focused on infrastructure, our IT team now spends the strong majority of time focused more directly on student needs and services.
"Cloud computing supports a more agile and responsive technology framework to support the student focused and service-oriented support framework"
The Power of Data
The effective use of data can be a very powerful tool to educate our students, inform decision makers, and accomplish our goals. The key is to ensure data is being used effectively. In our experience, data that is effectively driving decisions at both a strategic and operational level are essential pieces to effective data usage. Often, we have found that the key is not just in getting the data, but in understanding how the data will be used and ensuring the alignment exists between the questions being asked, what data is being provided, and the decisions being made from the data presented. This is where the alignment and partnership between academics, operations, and support services such as IT departments can either make or break the effectiveness of data utilization. Many industries have become much more aware of the risks associated with the security of their infrastructure platform over the past couple of years. Higher Education is no different, in that the protection of our students’ data needs to remain a high priority in the area of infrastructure investment.
Innovation and Culture Driving Student Value
Innovation starts with culture. We are fortunate to have a strong foundation at Herzing University that supports innovation and the forward progression of utilizing this innovation for student value. But it doesn’t stop with culture—there exists a need to measure the ROI from innovation as well. How many new ideas have been implemented in the past 3 years and what is the growth or benefits realization that has come from these ideas? It is the combination of culture and measuring the benefits realization from the innovation that we have found to be key ingredients to success in providing student value.
Customer-Centric Role of a CIO
With the increased accessibility and consumerization of technology across the world, combined with the increased levels of cloud computing and system-interoperability, the CIO role has become a more customer-centric role. Today’s CIO is more involved in driving or supporting business transformations. It is a role that needs to carefully balance internal teams and external partnerships, where the ability to collaborate well is required to be successful.
Change is the only Constant
Herzing University is an institution that takes great pride in our dedication and ability to meet the ever changing needs of the students, alumni, and communities we serve. We believe that if you are not changing, you are failing behind in the ability to meet today’s student needs. In an online learning modality, new innovation and continuous improvement options occur every day and it is an exciting industry to be in, where we are fortunate to have the privilege of supporting our students towards their academic and career goals and dreams. Whether the technology innovation comes in new ways to support the clinical experiences in our Masters Degree students in Family Nurse Practitioner, within the capstone projects of our MBA program, or supporting our technology students, it is within our culture and the many tremendous faculty and staff that devote their lives to swiftly implementing new technologies that provide increased student value.
As the cloud and big data are becoming mainstream, the Internet of Things is at a high hype level, and as this matures over the upcoming years, will start to become more mainstream in the everyday life of our students in higher education. This is an exciting time, where expectations are high of the internet of things, and it is CIO’s challenges to leverage some of the expectations associated with these into student value. Some of the more exciting elements we are interested in are within natural-language question answering technologies and predictive analytics student services. As the technology services become more mainstream in these areas, we look forward to partnering closely with our students, IT providers, and higher education partners to provide increased value for our students’ academic experience.