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Universities are doubling down on Wi-Fi

Washington State University extended wireless internet to the parking lots of all its building and San Jose State University in California is using Wi-Fi location analytics to monitor the number of people in on-campus buildings — both measures to ensure students stay connected to their learning and stay safe during the pandemic, technology leaders said during Educause's online conference last week. What's more, WSU Chief Information Officer Sasi Pillay said, is that one-third of WSU’s students are first-generation college students who might not have access to all of the resources to fully engage with online learning. “We quickly realized that many students do not even have the technology,” he said. Betsy Foresman has the full story.

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Data privacy is "all over the place" at universities, says Educause leader

Universities’ pandemic response plans have increased the amount of personal data collected on students and increased institutions’ need for a cohesive and transparent data privacy strategy, data privacy experts said during Educause’s conference last week. And while using data to ensure the health and academic success of students has become important to guide institutions through the challenges of the pandemic, institutions also have a responsibility to communicate with students on how data is being used for their benefit and to establish trust between the institution and students that data privacy is being maintained, Sean Burns, a researcher at Educause said during the online event. “Privacy is kind of all over the place in higher education,” Burns said. “There are a lot of different ways that institutions are approaching it.” Betsy has more.

A case study in university analytics

IT and institutional research teams at the University of Massachusetts Amherst developed a data analytics platform last year, just in time to support urgent planning efforts that arose as the pandemic began spreading last March. In a session during Educause’s online conference last week, university leaders explained the evolution of the project, which included a major strategy shift, and how the data platform has come to play a major role in how administrators make decisions across a wide range of university functions. “That locked in [institutional research] data was no longer locked in,” said Barb Chalfonte, executive director of strategic analytics at Amherst’s institutional research office. “People had good ways to get in and start working with it and answering their own questions." Colin Wood has the details.

Harvard Business School Online's tips for effective remote education

Institutions of higher learning were forced to rush their courses online this year, in some cases jamming curriculums that had been honed over decades in the classroom into a remote-learning format. Recognizing a demand for guidance on how to run online courses that are effective and engaging for students, Sue Crowley, the senior director of program services at Harvard Business School Online, last week detailed the best practices gleaned by her university from six years of practice. Check out her tips.

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