Sizing up unique opportunities and challenges for educational IT teams in 2023

Helping keep higher education institutions up to speed is no small feat — connectivity requires constant maintenance, device management calls for around the clock monitoring, and data security has to be flawless.

Remote courses continue to reshape the higher education sector and IT will remain on the frontlines. The number of hybrid and remote students at traditional universities increased by more than 35 percent between 2012 and 2019, while the pandemic accelerated that growth by another 92 percent in 2020, according to McKinsey & Company. At the same time, U.S. venture funding for education technology (edtech) has risen to more than $8 billion annually. Those shifts have prompted traditional universities to launch new online programs to stay competitive.

Against that backdrop, today’s technology demands call for swift and precise responses — from ensuring secure student pre-onboarding to troubleshooting unmanaged devices. IT protocols become even more complex when considering daily activities on campus, off campus, and via satellite campus.

Recently, our team of subject-matter experts identified 13 higher education personas with unique IT scenarios that should be strongly considered by higher education organizations in 2023. 

What’s at stake for educators and faculty members?

Smarter systems empower educators and other faculty members to do their jobs at their best with virtually no interference.

Full-time faculty members with multiple logins are one example of how IT and security complexities show up in higher education. A faculty member may teach two classes in person and one class remotely while hosting virtual office hours twice a week. In such cases, they will likely need access to homework portals, student attendance records, and grading systems under strict time pressures.

In other situations, IT may need to assist a hybrid staff member dealing with an urgent security incident. Perhaps the staff member works on campus three days a week and uses a computer provided by the university. Unfortunately, he clicks on a link in a phishing email from a personal device while working remotely. The IT team must immediately tackle the problem and address potential systemic risks to the university while also notifying specific stakeholders about the incident.

Or how about a fully remote faculty member who requires post-breach access? The faculty member uses a virtual platform to broadcast live and needs to review curriculum and data hosted in the cloud. However, passwords and permissions automatically reset right before an important session begins and IT is asked to fix the problem within five minutes.

Where do college and grad students fit into the mix?

Individual students present their own unique IT scenarios.

Take, for example, a second-year data science major with managed and unmanaged devices. She uses a university-issued workstation and personal desktop, uploads data models to Amazon Web Services, and collaborates with peers on an open platform. Such scenarios are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s hybrid school and work environments.

And IT needs could become even more demanding for a third-year design major who works a part-time job and does coursework at night. The student may need virtual lab access and 3D graphics applications for coursework and use a university-owned computer on campus and an unmanaged iOS device or Chromebook off campus.

Another frequent scenario for technology leaders in higher education is student pre-onboarding. Many incoming students own personal smartphones and laptops and require access to internal systems that live in the multi-cloud — class schedules, curriculums, financial documents, room and board portals, and other important resources. Every institution’s IT team must evaluate the biggest needs and potential risks in each case and act promptly.

VMware hybrid cloud infrastructure and modern application solutions allow educational organizations to spend less time putting out fires and more time building secure frameworks for students and faculty.

The educational ecosystem goes beyond students and faculty

Students, teachers, and faculty members aren’t the only ones to consider in today’s educational ecosystem.

Members of an internal IT team may be asked to help the parent of a student who needs specific permissions for a payment portal and or an active school alumnus who joins quarterly virtual meetings and engages and donates through an alumni portal.

IT teams in higher education may need to assist other outside parties, such as a facilities vendor with a repair request or a visiting researcher looking to review academic materials. The vendor needs network access to help update systems and the researcher needs access to important data on the network. Both are trusted partners with questionable devices. Such situations often require quick yet careful security checks and user group updates.

In satellite campus situations, IT teams may additionally work with student collaborators, graduate students, or guest lecturers who also use personal devices. 

Every individual and institution carry their own unique circumstances and technology needs. Our team at VMware is well equipped to advise higher education organizations of all sizes. 

What is the next step for institutions managing IT complexities?

The future of education relies more heavily on tech than ever before. Students and faculty needs will always remain academic and administrative at the core, but they will increasingly be bolstered by forward-thinking IT initiatives. Factoring in some of the latest AI tools — including the powerful language bot ChatGPT — and staying ahead of the curve increasingly requires creative and strategic thinking from CTOs and other technology leaders in higher education.

In such a kinetic educational ecosystem, organizations need to create digital foundations for hybrid-flexible environments. VMware provides a comprehensive, end-to-end platform that allows IT teams to streamline how individual devices, apps, data, and cloud services are managed while enabling secure access for students, faculty members, and others from virtually any location. 

Learn more about how VMware can help equip universities with more control while allowing employees and students freedom and flexibility. Explore VMware’s latest offerings for technology teams in higher education.


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