Insights from EDUCAUSE 2023: Cybersecurity, Data, and AI

Insights from EDUCAUSE 2023: Cybersecurity, Data, and AI

The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference brings together professionals in higher education and technology to collaborate, network, and gain insight on the trends, developments, and emerging technologies that are shaping the future of learning. A professional development destination, it captures what's top-of-mind for higher education professionals as they develop technology strategies for the future. These are the top takeaways that resonated across the conference.

Cybersecurity Remains No. 1 Issue Despite the Surge of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

If an institution is concerned with protecting data and reducing ransomware risks, AI will understandably be a lower priority. In fact, the AI category received honorary mention at EDUCAUSE due to how it has gained recent popularity, including within the higher education community. A survey that was sent to 13,257 EDUCAUSE members confirmed AI was ranked higher in larger institutions. What some institutions might have seen as an issue just a few months ago, may not be the same today. Today, it's clear AI has taken higher ed by storm. Take a closer look at the 2024 EDUCAUSE Top 10 here.

Institutions Recognize the Value of Data and Look to Leverage it

From cybersecurity to improving analytics and governance, data continues to be a key focus as many institutions are looking to modernization and grow. Five of the EDUCAUSE Top 10 pertained to data and many sessions at the conference reflected that.

Lisa Johnston, Director of Data Governance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provided insights how increasing data literacy helps balance compliance and security requirements with faculty needs. In another session discussing cloud migration strategies for small colleges, Bill Thompson, Director of Digital Infrastructure from Lafayette College, showed how hosting their Ellucian Banner platform in AWS helps mitigate data risk and reduce costs.

A panel hosted by Alejandra Acosta, Director of Knowledge Sector for Discourse Analytics, discussed how demographic data doesn't fully capture the reasoning behind behavior. With the other panelists, Acosta explored how data can be misinterpreted, even with the best of intentions, when understanding student outcomes and mindset.

Collecting and protecting data is a top priority, but it's equally important to effectively analyze what that information means. Data literacy for all faculty and staff is essential as each institution paves a modernization path.

AI is Here with Pros and Cons

AI is here to stay. But is higher education ready to embrace it? Many sessions explored the potential ethical concerns AI poses, but like the internet and iPhones, new technologies have the potential to transform the student experience for the better with the proper guardrails.

Ellucian Senior Learning Experience Designers Mike Pennella and Tara Kissel discussed how AI can support content generation for course development when paired with subject matter experts to decipher what content is useful and, in some cases, what is false. AI is not always perfect, but it can be effective, which is why higher ed must prepare for its implementation with best practices and reflective discussion.

The 2023 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference was an opportunity to focus on higher ed on the issues that will most impact learning today and in the future. As much as AI has everyone's attention, cybersecurity and data management and insight are still the top priorities, as displayed by the sessions provided and the EDUCAUSE 2024 Top 10 list. With ongoing discussion and community-building, the industry will continue innovating new ways to enhance the ever-changing and dynamic student experience with modern technology.

Learn more about The Value of Higher Ed SaaS Security in Action.

Meet the authors
Raymond Mendenilla, Senior Director, Business Transformation, Ellucian
Raymond Mendenilla
Senior Business Transformation Director, Ellucian

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