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Articles: Internet

Academia’s cyber preparedness (or lack thereof) has received less media attention than that of certain retailers and financial institutions, but nonetheless the cyber risks confronting universities are pervasive and alarming. Consider recent breaches suffered by educational institutions. At the University of Maryland, an outside source gained access to a secure records database that held information dating back to 1998, including names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and university identification numbers for over 300,000 people affiliated with the university on two campuses.

In just three years, enrollment at Lone Star Community College grew by about 50 percent. The six-campus system, located in the north Houston metro area, now has more than 95,000 students and has experienced explosive data growth, as well—from 40 terabytes to 1.6 petabytes.

Have you heard about Periscope yet? If you follow tech early adopters, journalists, celebrities or even politicians on Twitter, you might have already seen Periscope notifications for live broadcasts in your feed.

Acquired for $100 million by Twitter in March 2015, the live-streaming mobile app could be either the next big thing or the latest social media fad (remember SecondLife?). But when you work in digital communications and marketing for a university, you can’t afford to ignore change.

In today’s 24/7, always-on world, students, faculty and other key stakeholders expect institutions of higher education to be on the cutting edge of technology. As CIO of Western Oregon University (WOU), a vibrant campus of 4,992 undergraduates and 1,066 graduate students with our main campus in Monmouth, I know that when it comes to technology, leading universities must deliver unsurpassed learning capabilities that extend well beyond the classroom.

Campuses are aggregating bandwidth demand to purchase more capacity at lower costs through state networks and other consortia.

Higher education has a long history of collaboration among institutions. Today, colleges and universities are leveraging the power of that collaborative spirit to bring high-capacity bandwidth to the market’s most insatiable users: traditional college-age students.

Travis Seekins is associate vice president of student technology at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas.

Human-to human communications have been the bedrock of our lives. More recently, machine-to-machine streaming has become a dominant and often disruptive dance partner in the communication landscape. And now we are glimpsing a world where human-to-machine links culminate in one seamlessly orchestrated waltz.

In March, Twitter unveiled its newest acquisition, a live video streaming app called Periscope. Following closely on the heels of a rival app called Meerkat, Periscope made waves by enabling anyone with a mobile device (iOS or Android) to broadcast from virtually anywhere. The apps allow viewers to interact with broadcasters through a chat feature.

Karine Joly: Used correctly and purposely on the home page, videos are a fantastic opportunity to capture attention long enough to draw visitors into calls to action.

Who watches online videos today? Maybe a better question is, who doesn’t? Video is an engaging, emotional and effective way to communicate and influence. So it was just a matter of time until video got prime real estate on a school’s home page.

Karine Joly is the web editor behind, a blog about higher ed web marketing, public relations and technologies.

Most institutions think they measure the impact and the performance of social media, but only a few have shown they are ready to invest the necessary time and resources to measure what really matters. How your school defines social media measurement ultimately determines how strategically it uses social media.

Westfield State University’s Upvote campaign encourages positive Yik Yak messages.

Nearly half of the approximately 500 respondents (48 percent) to a UB reader survey said bullying and insults posted on Yik Yak make the social network and its app a “serious threat.” Nearly the same number of respondents said the network is “benign” and called it a fad that would fade over the next year.

A 2013 survey of institutions that have a formal policy covering user-provisioned technologies. (Click to enlarge)

Controlling bandwidth is just one reason why colleges and universities have adopted BYOD policies. Improving computer security, providing reliable internet access for classroom work, and simply letting faculty, staff and students use their favorite devices have driven wider acceptance of BYOD strategies.

The authors were the founders of Touro University International (TUI), which at first was an online branch of Touro College and later became a separately accredited university by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. TUI remained within the Touro College and University System from 1998 to 2007. It was then sold and became a stand-alone, for-profit university, currently known as Trident University International. During its nine years of operation within the Touro System, TUI generated more than $270 million dollars in net earnings.

Mobile device page views spiked after North Carolina State University launched its redesigned website, which was optimized for mobile.

Colleges and universities miss a significant opportunity to capture the attention of their primary web audience—teens and young adults—when their websites aren’t designed to perform well on mobile devices. While it sounds like a simple concept, making it happen requires resources, a change in mindset and a willingness to experiment.

Karine Joly says SnapChat may be a useful recruiting tool for colleges and universities.

You’ve tamed Twitter, made inroads with Instagram and finessed Facebook.

Now you can take a break from keeping up with the social networking habits of college students, right?

Think again.

While a few colleges are still trying to grasp the intricacies of the top social platforms, early adopters have been exploring other platforms for communications and marketing.

Among the many hopefuls, SnapChat has started to get real traction on college campuses.

As technology advances and students remain on the cutting edge, colleges and universities have no choice but to keep up. That means ensuring that students can access the information they need, whenever they need it, from whatever device they choose. This creates an array of challenges for institutions, from increased volume of help desk calls, to providing a consistent user experience across devices and operating systems, to controlling access to sensitive information.