MSU IT Conference looked at ways technology is changing in higher ed

The MSU IT Conference was held June 10, 2014, in the MSU Union with breakout sessions in the Human Ecology and Natural Science buildings.

More than 200 attended the conference open to those in the MSU community interested in information technology.

The MSU IT Conference was started in 2007 to build the IT community and encourage collaboration.

Technology in higher education

The Keynote Address was given by Lev Gonick, co-founder and CEO of OneCommunity and CIO at Case Western Reserve University from 2001-2013.

Photo of Lev Gonick giving the Keynote Address at the MSU IT Conference on June 10, 2014.

Gonick discussed how technology is a revolution in motion, and higher education has sometimes struggled to stay on the edge of innovation.

There are several innovation curves, he said, and sometimes higher ed IT is stuck maintaining technology in the first curve.

“We are victims of our own success. We were revolutionary.”

Higher ed has has to creatively implement IT solutions in the context of huge constraints, Gonick explained, and innovating in our silos doesn’t work. He further discussed the need for a university to reorient the technology investments it makes to help lead the campus.

“What part of the service catalog are we owning [as IT],” asked Gonick. “Is that core to what the customer needs today or to our historical organization?”

IT investments

Dr. Stephen Hsu, MSU Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, gave the Lunch Address on how to evaluate large IT investments in higher ed.

Hsu is also the founder of two Silicon Valley companies, Safe Web, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies.

In his address, Hsu discussed how measuring the return on investment five to seven years after a large investment is rarely done and the full payoffs often require training and process re-engineering.

“We need to assign costs to projects and then measure what we got,” Hsu said. “We have to rigorous about it.”

He continued to explain how universities need to think about the tangible benefits of IT investments upfront and not be fooled by “gee whiz” sales pitches.

“It’s OK to be a late adopter,” Hsu said. “Look at peer universities. Go and ask questions.”

Breakouts session topics

In addition to the Keynote and Lunch Addresses, Breakout Sessions were held throughout the day.

First Breakout Sessions

  • “Content Strategy for the Web and Improving the User Experience”
  • “ETD Repository, Drupal, Solr Islandora, and Fedora Commons”
  • “Security…MSU’s Path Forward”

Second Breakout Sessions

  • “Mobile Device Management with MobileIron”
  • “The Network: A Plumber’s Perspective”
  • “Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity on a Connected Campus”

Third Breakout Sessions

  • “New Branding and Universal Search Requirements”
  • “Using Qualtrics for Administration and Research”
  • “GIS Resources at MSU”