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Education takes up broader set of IT causes

By Birket Foster
Special Report to the NewsWire

Whoever imagined a conference agenda with the discussions on the appropriateness of using iTunes to distribute e-learning content, or open-source versus proprietary applications? How things have changed!
 
This week I’m attending the Educause conference in Denver, where I will be taking a dive into the modern world of educational computing looking at these topics and more.

Educause The world of computing for education used to be really simple. Early HP 3000 adopters included many higher-ed and K-12 organizations. There were consortiums that were formed to build common applications iN Washington state, California and other places. The HP 3000 market had several providers that sprung up – SRN provided fundraising software, degree audits and more. Bi-Tech provided financials and many customers flocked to conferences. There were even conferences within conferences, as there was a SIG-ED track at Interex.
 
But the modern campus landscape has evolved to include massive IT infrastructures – internet, wireless, servers, secure networks, mobile computing, peer to peer file sharing, High Performance Computing, and Learning Management Systems (LMS) dot the landscape of the modern campus.

ID management with application data provisioning -- application integration for allowing the appropriate access based on role -- is the new challenge. This allows the integration of library, LMS, bookstore, cafeteria, vending systems, as well as e-mail, printing and file shares. The are lots of systems to present these credentials to. There is a need to have Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans and understand how to recover even if the servers were virtualized.

It’s interesting to see the issues, ranging from defining what a department is to the percentage increase of Adobe’s latest licenses. (It’s up to 50 percent for some colleges). There’s also been a large amount of discussion about the support for office and Windows 7 for Mac devices, especially through Safari and Firefox.

I'll have more to share as the conference unfolds.

Birket Foster is CEO of MB Foster, supplier of HP 3000 migration services and tools, as well as data management and datamart solutions. You can also follow the Educause Twitter stream by using the #EDUCAUSE09 tag.

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