Leveraging Big Data To Develop Innovative Solutions

Michele Norin, CIO, University of Arizona
Michele Norin, CIO, University of Arizona

Michele Norin, CIO, University of Arizona

Role of Big Data in the education space
Many industries have the potential to gain substantial business value from big data. Higher education institutions can also benefit from the power of big data by achieving operational efficiencies, improving student outcomes and expanding research capabilities. As the demand for this field continues to grow, universities need to make sure they are offering curriculum and work-based opportunities to students so they can enter the workforce with the skills employers need. In some sense, many institutions are both creators and consumers of big data.

The University of Arizona is embarking on an effort to develop an institutional approach to support vast amounts of data generated by the institution. There are currently two primary areas of focus: administrative data and research data. From the administrative side, big data can be used in the admissions process, budgeting and student services to help allocate resources and course seating projections. From the research side, the University of Arizona has several high profiles fields of study that generate large amounts of data, such as space science, genomic research, climate studies, and information science. Leveraging this data is extremely important in our efforts to educate students and develop innovative solutions with real world impacts.

Technological Trends impacting the education sector

One of the trends that we are exploring at the University of Arizona is the use of digital media and eContent. We are conducting a pilot project to assess eContent for its appeal and pedagogical benefit to faculty and students, scalability, and ease of integration with our campus learning management environment. The financial model and cost savings of etext versus traditional textbooks could be a big driver towards making this trend a reality on college campuses. Initial results from our pilot have been positive but further assessment is needed to determine eContent has the longevity to become an integral part of the learning experience in higher education.

The interesting and exciting thing about mobility and BYOD, is that it represents a new style of IT. Everything and everyone is connected. People expect instant gratification and we are often impatient when cannot receive our news, emails or texts instantaneously. Enterprise and IT are no longer separate but interdependent on the other. Organizations must respond to continuous opportunity and threats and those that do not or cannot will not survive. Agility and flexibility is paramount. We as consumers want things anywhere, anytime, anyway. And, finally collaboration is no longer a buzz word; it is how successful business relationships are built and maintained over time.

We keep this “new style of IT” in mind as we tackle our own mobile strategy here at the UA. We will be launching an updated version of Arizona Mobile this spring and incorporating new features such as an interactive campus map, social media tools, and other mobile apps and websites that will serve as resources to our campus community.

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