Executive level precon summits headline the opening of UB Tech 2018

Two executive-level summits headlined the preconvention action during UB Tech 2018 at The Mirage in Las Vegas. Both the Higher Ed and Critical Trends summits featured presentations and professional expertise ranging from accommodating new learning technologies to exploring the latest security trends.

The day kicked off with HP’s precon event and “Building the Campus of the Future,” the first of six presentations. HP Director of EdTech Innovation Mike Belcher discussed the evolution of work and life and the importance of STEM and careers in higher ed. Belcher also stressed the need for learning spaces to accommodate what he refers to as “XR,” or a combination of virtual, blended and augmented reality, and how it should be accounted for in classroom design.

Live VR demos and 3D printing discussions were also part of the morning, as well as a presentation focusing on printer security—most wireless printers can be hacked in as easy as three clicks of a mouse, yet only 18 percent of printers are actively protected, says Alex Gregory, HP print security technical consultant.  

Jay Prescott, VP of Student Affairs and Director of eSports at Grand View University in Iowa, also discussed the explosion of eSports on college campuses. “Two years ago I didn’t know what eSports were, and now I’m a national expert,” Prescott said. During that span, the number of institutions giving scholarships to eSports players has grown from seven to 35, and Prescott expects that number to grow to 100 by next year. He also reported that Grand View’s program netted $200,000 in revenue.

Another morning precon summit, “The ROI of Digital Learning,” was sponsored by ClassLink. A group of college and university technology leaders discussed the unique challenges and pressures facing higher ed when it comes to the utilization of digital resources, particularly how to promote and ensure equal access to these resources for users across campus. Moderated by ClassLink CEO and founder Berj Akian and ClassLink V.P. of Higher Education Chris Vandenbosch, the group discussion explored topics such as common pain points for institutions when it comes to enterprise-level technology, the importance of using analytics to understand and benchmark resource utilization, how to streamline access to applications, productivity tools and files, and some key strategies for improving access to digital resources at any institution.

A luncheon for all attendees marked the midpoint of the day and was highlighted by James Muyskens’ keynote presentation “How Can We Improve General Education Instruction?”

Saying “It’s an exciting time to be in education,” Muyskens, former president of CUNY Queens College, noted that it’s also an era of “learning by all means.” He pointed out that general education currently is a weak link in the expanding instructional continuum. To improve that, institutions need to get the right faculty teaching the subject and to equip educators with technology that supplements, not supplants, faculty/student engagement.

The afternoon Thoughtexchange precon event was led by CEO Dave MacLeod, a self-proclaimed “recovering consultant” who discussed moving from contention to consensus on campus issues with the help of real-time data and online conversations. Through a live demonstration of the Thoughtexchange platform, MacLeod showed how productive discussion could be informed by finding common ground through online polling. The key is to craft open-ended questions that elicit stronger, more constructive responses.  

Ultimately, “Learning and change is hard,” said MacLeod. “But we’re wired for it.”



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