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Cloud in Education Environments

By Jay Bunner-Sorg, Program Director, Information Technology Bachelor of Science Degree Program, Full Sail University

Jay Bunner-Sorg, Program Director, Information Technology Bachelor of Science Degree Program, Full Sail University

Today’s technology has transformed our daily lives into a 24/7 world of sharing, communicating and connecting with others at an ever-accelerating pace.With Generation Z now entering higher education, the demands and expectations on IT departments is greater now than ever before. This requires IT leadership to think differently and challenge our traditional assumptions of how students and faculty consume technology services.

Enabling Flexibility

Today’s students value connectedness and flexibility in how they learn best, which extends past traditional lecture-style classes. Especially in STEAM curricula, students understand best by doing, practicing what they will encounter in the real world, and most importantly, exercising their critical thinking skills against problems that may be different each time. Instructors need access to the same level of technology and IT resources that private industry offers to provide this student experience, and different academic departments have vastly unique needs to provide labs and hands-on experiences.

Within the Information Technology bachelor’s degree program that I lead at Full Sail University, not only do we put technology in the hands of students every step of the way, but we challenge students to apply these solutions in the context of the latest technologies, which continually change. This requires adaptability not only in our curriculum and lab experiences, but in how we support students with IT services.

"The role of Information Technology has changed from providing turnkey solutions to enabling business units to choose their own solutions that work for their needs"

Acting as a Service Provider

One of the strategies IT departments can adopt comes from private industry. Companies are moving towards a model to provide the infrastructure, rules of engagement, and security constraints in a framework of self-service options that lets internal users do whatever they need with the resources provided – just like a service provider would do. This may be a combination of private infrastructure or public cloud services, as each has advantages and disadvantages, but the IT organization ensures cost and security controls to protect the institution and data.

The role of Information Technology has changed from providing turnkey solutions to enabling business units to choose their own solutions that work for their needs. The cloud has enabled the era of Bring Your Own IT, whether your organization was prepared or not. If the availability of cloud-based service catalogs that let users build their own services without direct IT involvement makes you uncomfortable for any number of reasons, your users have already been doing it anyway and most likely putting the organization at risk. Public cloud providers don’t dictate what software you run or how you use their services, they make them available for any creative use case you can dream up.

User Security Culture is Key

The most powerful, yet fallible, part of security infrastructure are the humans behind endpoints. But ask yourself – have you dedicated enough resources to train them to make the right decisions? In the rush to live in a digital world, most users act first and think later, but once educated on the impact of their actions, this enlightenment has the power to provide a layer of defense through a practical culture of security and privacy. At Full Sail, we promote this culture within technology academic programs so that students and faculty can also evangelize a culture of security with their peers, family and friends.

The challenges to IT departments will only continue to become more complex, and developing a strategy around user flexibility within practical frameworks and self-service options, educating users about their shared security responsibility and behaviors, and allowing selection of technology by non-IT users gives organizations room to grow as user expectations evolve.

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