Page 18 - Campus Technology, July 2017
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as strategic partners on campus,” he said. “They are viewed as keeping the lights on.” Student success is an area where they can contribute to longer-term institutional goals.
Campus Technology asked three CIOs how their IT organizations contribute to student success initiatives on campus and the areas they have chosen to emphasize.
Oral Roberts University: Enterprise Integration to Lower Friction for Students
Mike Mathews, who has been CIO at Oral Roberts Univer- sity (OK) for three years, has spent that time focusing on an enterprise integration project called “ORU GeoVision” to unite more than 30 IT systems under a single login for students, faculty and staff.
“We understand that students live in a fluid world,” Mathews said. “We wanted to make sure students didn’t have to think about the learning management system as a product or logins and passwords for the student information system.”
Mathews worked closely with Kathaleen Reid-Martinez, provost and vice president for academic success, to convert that concept of fluidity into a technology plan.
“We started three years ago and made quick progress. This semester we finished with 95 percent retention between fall semester and spring semester for freshmen,” said Mathews, who also claims that the technology has helped lead to com- parably high retention rates between on-campus and online
students. “We try to make things easy for students — whether it is getting their assignments or finding out where things are located, we want to make it simple for them. We believe that is what GeoVision has done.”
He added that faculty members have bought in, too. “They no longer have to enter student grades into the SIS when they are already in the LMS. This is pure integration,” he said. “Nobody has to touch anything. When faculty love something, the other pieces fall into place.”
Mathews noted that unlike many universities, Oral Roberts is not interested in hearing about analytics. “I cannot go to other university executives here and talk about analytics. That is 10-year-old terminology. It doesn’t resonate. They are tired of hearing from ed tech companies about analytics. We have stayed away from using that term. We talk about intelligence, fluidity and seamless integration.”
Washington State University: Personalizing Education the Amazon Way
Sasi Pillay, vice president of information technology and CIO at Washington State University, is investing in WSU’s business intelligence capabilities with an eye toward personalizing education in much the same way that online retailers such as Amazon personalize the shopping experience.
“When you are flying and you miss your connecting flight, it is one thing to know as soon as that happens, but it is even
better to know what your choices are,” said Pillay, who came to WSU in 2015 after serving as CIO for the University of Wisconsin System.
“If you extend that analogy, to make that work in an academic environment, you must come up with tools and early alerts to students and couple that with the ability to deliver services,” he said. So if a student is having trouble with a math concept, the idea is to nudge that student to do something proactive. Maybe they haven’t read the assignments for the class or gotten together with a project team. “We can couple that with the idea that previous students who were having those kinds of problems and took these steps improved their grades,” Pillay said. It is the Amazon approach: People who have shopped for this also shopped for that. “How can we mimic what people are doing in the commercial marketplace? We have piles and piles of data, but how do we find the needle in that big haystack?”
In the short term, WSU has partnered with EAB to use its student success management system and participate in its Student Success Collaborative. “But our long-term strategy is to build that business intelligence expertise in-house,” Pillay said. “We are investing in people to grow that practice within the IT organization.” He predicts that WSU is about two years away from being able to develop those Amazon-like features to help nudge students to succeed.
Pillay said looking at the student experience holistically is

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