From the CIO

From the CIO

Kelly Block serves as Interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the University of Illinois System.

For more information about Kelly, visit About the CIO.

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(Reprinted in part with permission of

Higher education consortia are helping institutions gain access to cloud services. For example, Internet2's Net+ offerings make it easier to procure cloud computing, storage, data mining, two-factor authentication, and many more software-as-a-service offerings. Several vendors make great cloud services for data visualization, drilldown, discovery and analytics. These services let you configure pre-made graphics on top of your own data, which you can link directly to their cloud service. You can embed what you build into your own web applications, and this lets you spend more time playing with the data rather than deploying new tools. Of course, there are some scaling limitations with some of these solutions; however, these services can supplement typical industrial-strength business intelligence solutions.

In the past, the learning management system (LMS) collected syllabi and documents, displayed grades, had some basic communication capability, and was synchronized to the student information system so that only enrolled students participated in the class. Today, the LMS landscape has more competition, and the LMS is available as cloud service. Functionality now includes better features for mobility, personalization and adaptive learning. Moving forward, the demands on the LMS are to be a truly a self-guided digital learning environment allowing for exploration, real-time assessment and meaningful collaborations. With all of these choices, IT professionals can help by making sure that the academic objectives for a new LMS are clear and the institution isn't chasing the newest, shiniest tool for the sake of technology.

IBM believes that the first experience that babies and toddlers should have with education is with their parents - and Watson. Watson is not going to replace the parent, but Watson might be better than plunking the child in front of a video, a program or a website. While these may be "interactive," they certainly don't learn much from the child. Cloud-based, cognitive computing can learn and does learn. This isn't in a creepy, artificial intelligence way, but rather, it's related specifically to early childhood development. What could be better than a parental partner that was trained to recognize the difference between sleep deprivation, obstinacy, and autism? As cognitive computing becomes embedded in higher education, IT professionals can help departments utilize cognitive computing in innovative research and education.

How do we determine what to send to the cloud? In part III of this article, I’ll share my thoughts on facilitating the planning process.

Posted by Wendy Bertram  On Jan 21, 2016 at 9:42 AM