December 10, 2015

Technology Planning for E-Education Institutions

E-education technology

University enrollment in e-education has tripled over the last ten years. In 2014, 6.7 million university students were taking, at least, one online course. The e-education model is currently in a critical phase of growth, allowing students in every phase of their education to participate in virtual learning environments.

Similar to the industries of healthcare and finance, educational institutions have access to a wealth of private information including medical records, credit card data, and personal information. Additionally, students, faculty, and staff all rely on technology for day-to-day functions such as attending online lectures, distributing grades, and taking exams.

Your operations could screech to a startling halt if your institution suffers from technical failures like downtime or a data breach. Technology planning is an integral part of keeping your classes in session. Here are the critical topics you’ll want to consider to ensure your institution is ready for 2016.

Data Security

Educational institutions account for 32% of all data breaches since 2005. In early 2014, the University of Maryland fell victim to a cyber attack that exposed records containing personally identifiable information. This case isn’t unique —schools including Indiana University and The North Dakota University System suffered from security issues and data breaches in 2014.

Hacking or malware infractions currently account for the largest proportion of data breaches in education. Failure to keep data safe and secure can lead to fines, lawsuits, reputation damage, and can cost IT team members their job.

Setting up an IT infrastructure at your institution that safeguards data from cyber threats is critical. Hackers will steal any data they can get and schools are a prime target (WeLiveSecurity). When it comes time for technology planning, be sure that your data is behind a secure firewall, and that there are multiple layers of protection to make it harder for cyber threats to get to. More layers of security will thwart cyber attackers since they will have to work harder to get to your information.

Implementing security measures will prevent headaches for students, faculty and staff.

Traffic

Do most of the professors at your institution upload lecture notes at the end of the day? Are all students submitting their assignments at 11:59 p.m.? Does the beginning of a semester bring total traffic mayhem with student scrambling to register?

Every institution has unique times throughout the year where traffic peaks. E-education sites need to be prepared for this influx, and if you’re not, your environment will be at risk for downtime.

Downtime is a huge inconvenience for students and staff who rely on your school’s site. In order to make sure your e-education site is ready for increased traffic, first monitor traffic patterns. Figuring out where and when your site struggles will dictate what measures are needed to give every student and staff member a speedy online experience.

During your technology planning, be sure to see if your website is load balanced. Load balancing allows you to distribute traffic to a single IP across any number of servers using a number of different protocols. This basically means that the processing load can be shared across many nodes, rather than being limited to a single server increasing your website’s performance and reliability during times of high activity.

Scalable IT Environment for Growth

In 2015, the global e-education market is expected to generate $49.9 billion in revenue. Online learning is on the rise as more students are enrolling in online courses and more schools are digitizing their educational experience. All educational institutions are encountering unprecedented demands for online learning, so setting up a scalable IT environment is critical for success.

Setting up a scalable environment allows you to not only continue growing but also take full advantage of the rescaled environment for greater performance. Perhaps there is an increase in the student body, and your IT environment must now be able to handle the workload that comes with the increase in workload. It’s easier to scale up than down, so be sure that every year you’re assessing what workloads your IT environment can handle and scale up appropriately.

IT Management

The IT departments at educational institutions, especially online institutions, don’t only play an important departmental role, they are increasingly a critical part of the business of education. Organizations rarely allocate the proper amount of resources needed to fully staff and equip their IT team. This combination creates the perfect storm of trying to do too much without enough resources.

Unfortunately, this often translates to responsibilities falling by the wayside. The basic IT demands such as monitoring, patching, backups and security can sometimes be neglected for something more fun like building a new feature on the university website. A managed hosting provider can serve as an extension to your IT team by bearing some of the load and handling time-consuming activities. You IT team is essentially expanded, so you get to focus on building cool tools while the managed hosting provider handles the rest.

Educational institutions are challenged with a rapidly changing marketplace, increase in cyber security risks while also delivering a stellar educational experience to students and staff. Edge Hosting, a leading managed cloud hosting provider, can help. Turn your attention to the classroom while Edge works as an extension of your institution’s IT department. Edge will take on the tasks of data security, traffic management, monitoring, patching, backups, recovery, and so much more. All of this is backed by Edge’s 100% uptime guarantee and 24/7/365 customer support that is entirely U.S. based. Allow your IT teams to build solutions for your organization while Edge handles the rest.

Go back