Active learning powered by mobile, video and cloud computing; comprehensive learner supports and data-informed decision making powered by enterprise computing; reducing tech risk and improving security. These themes were evident in the program and exhibition hall at the EDUCAUSE conference (#EDU18), the annual meeting of higher education technology professionals.

Throughout the three day event, there was no shortage of sessions helping share insights around the toughest IT problems college campuses and online universities face. EDUCAUSE also had a bustling hall featuring technology and IT providers ready to help.

Michele Norris, former NPR host and founder of The Race Card Project, opened the conference with a vivid discussion of race on America’s college campuses.

Alexis Ohanian shared learner experience lessons gathered from his experience co-founding Reddit and building community on Breadpig and the travel search site Hipmunk.

At the conference, I spoke with Cisco’s Education Advocate Dr. Lance Ford (video here). We discussed active learning, data-driven supports, and flexible secure learning.

Active Learning

Education IT professionals helped engineer the biggest shift in how people learning—the transition from analog to digital. We spent 20 years getting everyone online, and now (as was evident at Educause) there is a focus on active learning—enabling anywhere anytime collaborative education.

Ford noted how Cisco is enabling video and web conferencing within leading learning platforms. Team Cisco hosted dialogs on creating active learning spaces (featured image).

One of their most popular tools is WebEx. When combined with a leading learning management system, it creates a global learning community. For example, my daughter is participating in an executive masters program studying in London with a global team. They come together twice a quarter and in between jump on a video conference to work on projects and assignments.

We discussed how competency-based education is the future of learning. Technology will support the ability for more learners to gain credit for prior learning, take advantage of anywhere, anytime learning and to advance as they demonstrate mastery.

Data-Driven Supports

It was exciting to see so much movement on data-driven learner supports at Educause. With the right technology, universities are able to really understand learners in a deep way so that they can provide tailored supports and degree pathways.

Advisory programs are crucial to boosting completion rates. Ford and I discussed how good advisors and algorithms help learners persist and complete degrees.

To vividly illustrate the potential of data visualizations, Google built a high tech half court basketball arena complete with 34 high-speed cameras. Participants, wearing sensors from head to foot, shot baskets for a minute. Millions of data points were analyzed and summarized in real time on a dashboard.

Jonathan Rochelle, product manager for Google Education, said the exhibit illustrated the power of data analytics. “If we can capture and process that much information in 60 seconds of a hoops game, imagine what we could do in a semester of learning—in the lecture hall, the research lab, the administrative and admissions office.”

Flexible and Secure Learning.

Our team visits hundreds of K-12 schools, colleges, and learning facilities every year. We’ve seen a movement to open and flexible learning environments, both physical environments and program design. Educators are excited about the ability to engage learners in new ways and in inspiring learning environments–and that was evident at Educause.

However, open, flexible, collaborative spaces and systems pose an increasingly physical and cybersecurity challenge—and that was also clearly represented by Educause exhibits.

Ford described how Cisco’s products secure student data anywhere, in real-time, with continuous, faster threat detection and full visibility into malicious behavior.

#EDU18 reflected the trends of active learning, data-driven learner supports, and flexible and secure learning.

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