Tools4ever Announces New Technology Partnership With Ellucian

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Tools4ever, a leading provider of identity and access management solutions in education, announced a new partnership with Ellucian. The partnership unites two market-driven education solution providers. Mutual customers can now integrate Ellucian’s PowerCampus, Banner and Colleague products with Tools4ever’s Identity and Access Management and Identity as a Service (IDaaS) solutions. This partnership offers mutual customers automated user account lifecycle management across numerous applications, all from a single point of entry.

“It’s an exciting partnership for us, as we can now offer our mutual customers seamless integration between our products,” said Dean Wiech, managing director of Tools4ever in New York. “We have spent more than 20 years of successfully implementing solutions in more than 2,000 educational organizations. Partnering with other market leaders, such as Ellucian, allows us to continue our success in the education market.”

Ellucian and IAM

Ellucian’s SIS and ERP product suite empowers educational institutions to give people the right information at the right time. Their solutions make schools and universities more efficient, informed and capable of delivering great experiences to staff and students. This partnership allows Tools4ever’s IAM solution to connect Ellucian’s product suite to user accounts in Active Directory, G Suite and more. For example, if a staff or student record is created or changed in the SIS, IAM synchronizes the record’s information with all connected systems and applications. Other benefits include helpdesk delegation, self-service access management and access governance processes.

Ellucian and HelloID

The collaboration with Ellucian also extends to Tools4ever’s IDaaS product, HelloID. HelloID is a cloud-based, user-friendly dashboard where students and staff can access all approved teaching and learning applications with a single logi. Single Sign-On to the HelloID’s dashboard and connected applications is available to staff and students from anywhere, on any device, at any time.

“This partnership allows the team at Tools4ever to improve the customer experience and address more of their critical requirements,” stated Managing Director of Tools4ever NY, Dean Wiech.

EDUCAUSE Report: Diversity In Higher Education IT

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EDUCAUSE recently released a brief detailing diversity in the higher education information technology (IT) workforce. The report is designed understand factors that help promote and maintain the success of higher education’s IT workforce. The report, “Diversity in Higher Education: Information Technology,” created with CUPA-HR – human resources support for higher education — examines demographic makeup of the higher education IT workforce so as to better understand the workforce today and to identify opportunities in the pipeline for future higher education IT leaders.

This EDUCAUSE brief is a snapshot of diversity and pay equity in higher education IT, a look at the aging of IT administrators, and the characteristics of possible pipeline positions from data collected in the 2018 CUPA-HR Administrators in Higher Education, Professionals in Higher Education and Staff in Higher Education surveys.

In all, EDUCAUSE says higher education entities provided data for more than 36,577 incumbents in 51 information technology positions for the 2017-18 academic year.

Among higher education IT employees, 26% are women and 21% are racial/ethnic minorities. Representation of women and racial/ethnic minorities in higher education IT is much lower than among college students, the primary constituent population they serve. According to the report, the representation of minorities varies greatly within higher education IT, with far more minorities represented in staff and professional positions than in administrator roles.

White men make up the majority (59%) of higher education IT employees, and about 70% of minorities in higher ed IT positions are men.

Black and Hispanic women are the least-represented groups in higher ed IT, together occupying only about 3% of all IT positions (and only 0.5% of all IT administrative positions).

Increasing diversity

One way to increasing the diversity of higher education, EDUCAUSE suggests, is for institutions to recruit experienced individuals from regions of the country with better representation of women and racial/ethnic minorities. For example, female IT professionals and administrators are better represented in the Northeast than in the rest of the country, whereas minorities are much better represented in the South and West. “This data highlights the need for considering nationwide or regionally-targeted recruiting strategies when seeking diverse candidates — particularly for leadership roles,” the report states.

Pay

In general, Black and Hispanic women are underpaid relative to their white male peers; white women are paid equitably; and Asians are generally paid more than white men.

Aging, Retirement and the pipeline

An important concern for many U.S. employers is the expected wave of retirements in leadership positions as the last of the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) turns 55 years old in 2019, with many already at or past the expected retirement age. Administrators in higher education IT are no exception. For higher ed IT, this demographic transition may present an opportunity to make progress on diversity as this less-diverse generation gives way to a younger, more diverse generation.

The median age of the IT administrators highlighted in this report is 52 years old; however, the proportion of higher education IT employees that are older suggests that higher education IT may soon face succession planning challenges.

Around 43% of IT administrators are 55 years old or older. The median years in position is seven, but almost 39% of higher education IT administrators have more than 10 years in their current role. This is high compared to all administrators in higher education, where the median time in position is five years, and only 25% of administrators have more than 10 years in their current position.

Certain IT positions are considered part of the pipeline to administrative leadership roles. Some of these positions have higher representation than average for women or individuals from certain racial/ethnic groups, and may provide opportunities to recruit diverse future leaders as older employees near retirement.

“Some in higher education IT have argued that to close the gap on diversity in the field, a different way of thinking about recruitment, retention, and creating inclusive environments may be necessary, including deliberate efforts to use this type of data to recruit more diverse leaders,” the report’s authors write. “Higher education IT may also need to consider recruiting diverse candidates for leadership roles from outside of higher education or from positions not typically identified as part of traditional job progressions.”

EDUCAUSE says the data collected on information technology positions in higher education can help institutions focus their attention on key aspects of diversity for this critical part of the higher ed workforce.

“The time to begin succession planning is now — and the data show that certain positions in the immediate higher education IT pipeline may present opportunities to improve DEI in the process,” EDUCAUSE notes.

Educational Entities Can Do Some Learning About IT Infrastructure

By Jay Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc.

Jay Akin

K-12 and higher education entities require different perspectives on their IT strategy compared to IT strategies for corporate campuses. However, there are common themes and major technology trends that create similar IT challenges for both.

The proliferation of personal internet connected devices (primarily in the form of cell phones and other gadgets) and new web applications have caused various tectonic shifts that require similar fundamental changes in the security posture and campus connectivity strategies.

Corporations have tried to resist the use of personal connected devices within the office network environments and have tried to block the use of other unauthorized web applications even when used to serve some business need. This was an unfruitful strategy and the hidden shadow IT, as it is sometimes called, won this grassroots driven trend. For example, employees started using the freely available file sharing apps (such as Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) when their corporate offered alternative lacked in features and ease-of-use.

Similarly, employees continued to use their personal cell phones for business use cases when it was more convenient. Corporate IT had no choice but to embrace the fact that their employees would bring their own devices and in some cases adopt their preferred applications to solve their specific needs. This set of challenges also goes the other way with corporate provided connected devices finding their uses in personal use cases such as corporate provided laptops being used at homes.

The solution for corporations is to modify their security posture and rethink their connectivity architectures to be able to support the new reality. These changing trends have meant a shift towards a no-trust security posture versus solely relying on a on premise-based firewalling approach. It also meant starting to adopt software defined network architectures, namely, SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Networking), for managing and controlling bandwidth in their campuses.

Educational entities are in a similar situation when it comes to the proliferation of connected devices and the use of student-driven applications that can stress the wide area network bandwidth if not properly planned for. Therefore, it makes sense to look at some of the corporate solutions to these very same challenges to figure out how to handle the changing security environment and the increased pressures on bandwidth requirements.

Educational entities and campuses should also modify their security posture to have a zero-trust model whereby it is understood that solely protecting the perimeter of the network, although certainly required, is not enough for a completely secure network design. Unauthorized and uncontrolled devices (such as personal cell phones) will be present with all of their malware that may have collected over time and can create a threat from the inside of the network. Short of keeping these devices off of the network (which we know is not a practical solution) the next best option is to carve out and segregate the bandwidth available for such devices out of the network that the institution uses. By definition, all the sensitive data and resources will therefore be isolated and protected from any potential malware that may be on the personal devices.

This approach, which can be achieved with modern cognitive networking solutions in a highly cost-effective manner, will also provide the much-needed control of WAN bandwidth usage for both networks.

Once a software-defined approach is adopted, IT teams can take advantage of various other features that these modern technologies offer depending on the needs of their networks. For example, multi-WAN aggregation for additional capacity, adding premises-based or cloud-delivered UTM (unified threat management) security solutions and various others are some of the features that can be leveraged.

Even though at a high level corporate networks and networks of educational institutions are highly different with respect to their role, the important commonalities in the challenges both environments face allows both IT teams to learn and adopt solutions that the other has tried and tested.

Blackboard Debuts First Release of Blackboard Data Platform

Blackboard Inc. has announced the availability of its Blackboard Data developer tier, giving eligible institutions direct access to information to help manage and differentiate their learning ecosystem. Blackboard worked with more than 130 client developers at more than 75 institutions through global engagement events to co-develop the first Blackboard Data platform release.

The announcement was made at BbWorld 2019, Blackboard’s annual users conference that brings together educators, administrators and thought leaders, taking place July 23 through 25 in Austin, Texas.

Blackboard Logo (PRNewsFoto/Blackboard Inc.)

The first release on the Blackboard Data platform, known as the Blackboard Reporting Stack Developer Tier, will provide clients with direct access to data sets through a Snowflake data warehouse integration. Clients will also have access to the Blackboard Data User Interface, which includes a comprehensive data dictionary and integrated privacy guidance.

The goal, the company said, is to help developers and researchers answer questions to support common educational business goals. Data and tools in the Reporting Stack are now available for eligible clients using the Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment of Blackboard Learn at no additional fee.

“We have placed Blackboard Data right in the heart of our platform both architecturally and operationally,” said Rachel Scherer, senior director of analytics at Blackboard. “This means that not only can we pull data together in one single place, but we can also push it back into the learning ecosystem to make it richer with reliable in-workflow insights. Altogether, the Blackboard Data approach lets us contextualize information and provide insights to the right stakeholders at the right time.”

Blackboard Data is architected to combine activity and usage data across Blackboard’s Teaching and Learning solutions within its SaaS EdTech platform including cloud deployments of Learn, Open LMS, Collaborate, Safe Assign, Ally and the Blackboard app, with more to follow. The data is optimized for reporting and stored in a cloud data warehouse. Customers benefit from an industry-leading interface and simple integration with common business intelligence tools.

This is the first release for the Blackboard Data platform and over time the company will roll out more solutions, it said in the state announcing the launch. Following a SaaS continuous delivery model, Blackboard will expand eligibility across the company’s suite of SaaS-based products and add capabilities for more personas.

To introduce clients to Blackboard Data, Blackboard is launching the 21 Days of Blackboard Data challenge and encouraging all clients to join. Participants will have access to a demo data set with the same user interface as the Developer Tier. Interested clients may learn more and register at https://21days.blackboard.com/.

PowerSchool Launches EDGE 2020, Its Second Annual Customer Event

PowerSchool, a provider of K-12 education technology solutions, announced that it will host its second annual customer event, PowerSchool EDGE, bringing together a community of educators, thought leaders and experts who are passionate about education and the technology that powers it. The 2020 event, scheduled for March 30 – April 1 in Orlando, is expected to be bigger than the 2019 inaugural event.  

PowerSchool’s flagship customer event brings together K-12 leaders to connect, learn and grow to improve education and student outcomes. It offers two full days of insights and training to lead students, teachers, schools, and districts to success, or four days for EDGE University, which features extended, in-depth, deep-dive product training.   

“PowerSchool’s inaugural EDGE hosted around 1,000 attendees from 48 states, seven countries, and more than half of Canada’s provinces, bringing major K-12 stakeholders together to discuss the most critical topics in education today,” said Anthony Miller, PowerSchool’s chief marketing officer. “Building on the success of our inaugural event, EDGE 2020 promises to be even better—with more in-depth sessions, more certification courses covering more products, and more value for every educator.” 

EDGE provides practical training, best practices and industry-leading thought leadership insights for all levels of K-12 roles including curriculum, instruction, technology, HR and finance, as well as administrators, principals and superintendents. PowerSchool EDGE general sessions are focused on company updates, inspirational speakers and education leadership panels. Breakout sessions are broken into four main categories, including thought leadership, best practices, classes and certified training in deep-dive product courses. 

Attendees can expect to hear from leaders in more than 40 engaging breakout sessions on today’s key K-12 topics. Gain experience and expertise with hands-on learning, best practices and networking opportunities to grow and develop careers, as well as a deeper understanding of the PowerSchool road map and vision for the future.  

Registration is now open at www.powerschool.com/edge. Launch pricing and early-bird discounts are available, starting at $499 for EDGE and $1,900 for EDGE plus EDGE University. 

Ellucian Banner System Vulnerability Update

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The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is working with Ellucian to clarify the previous alert from July 17, 2019. Some of the issues mentioned in the alert may be unrelated to the vulnerability (Vulnerability) for which Ellucian released a patch on May 14, 2019. The Department and Ellucian have no reason to suspect that a breach has occurred as a result of this vulnerability.

Ellucian has found that there are two separate and distinct issues that bear immediate attention:

  1. The Ellucian Banner vulnerability
  2. Fraudulent admissions applications

The Ellucian Banner Vulnerability

Who is Impacted: The vulnerability only occurs in Ellucian Banner Web Tailor versions 8.8.3, 8.8.4, and Banner Enterprise Identity Services versions 8.3, 8.3.1, 8.3.2, and 8.4. Although Banner Web Tailor 8.9 was previously listed as impacted, it is a roll-up software release that contains all patches and releases since 8.8 and is not affected. Customers not using these software versions are not impacted by this vulnerability.

Actions for Institutions Using Ellucian Banner System: Patches for this vulnerability were issued by Ellucian on May 14, 2019 and are included in all subsequent roll-up software releases. There is no indication that student or institutional data has been compromised. The patched vulnerability is extremely difficult to exploit and unlikely to occur outside of a laboratory setting. Institutions running Ellucian Banner Web Tailor versions 8.8.3, 8.8.4 or Banner Enterprise Identity Services versions 8.3, 8.3.1, 8.3.2, and 8.4 should immediately apply the previously release patches.

Fraudulent Admissions Applications:

Although it was reported that attackers can leverage the vulnerability discussed above to create accounts, Ellucian believes this is not correct. The issue described in the alert is not believed to be related to the previously patched Ellucian Banner System vulnerability and is not exclusive to institutions using Ellucian products. Attackers are utilizing bots to submit fraudulent admissions applications and obtain institution email addresses through admission application portals.

Ellucian recommends adding reCAPTCHA capabilities to the admission process to reduce the likelihood of experiencing fraudulent applications for admissions, even if institutions are not currently experiencing this issue.

For More Information:

Ellucian and the Department will continue to review this matter and update stakeholders as necessary. Additional information is available at Ellucian’s Customer Center and in Ellucian’s FAQ document.News TypeAnnouncements

Synergy SIS By Edupoint Wins “Student Information System of the Year” In 2019 EdTech Breakthrough Awards

Edupoint Educational Systems, creator of Synergy Education Platform for K-12 student information and learning management, has won the 2019 EdTech Breakthrough Awards “Student Information System Solution of the Year” for its Synergy Student Information System (SIS). EdTech Breakthrough is a leading market intelligence organization that recognizes the top companies and solutions in the global educational technology market.

“The student information system award category is hyper-competitive, and Synergy ‘breaks through’ with its deep focus on enriching the educational experience both in and out of the classroom with an incredibly robust feature set,” said James Johnson, managing director for EdTech Breakthrough. “With Synergy’s powerful student data management capabilities and full suite of mobile apps, we see the platform truly facilitating greater effectiveness, productivity, engagement, and learning. We are thrilled to recognize Edupoint as a 2019 EdTech Breakthrough Award winner.”

The EdTech Breakthrough Awards honor excellence and recognize innovation, hard work, and success in a range of educational technology categories, including Student Engagement, School Administration, Adaptive Learning, STEM Education, e-Learning, Career Preparation and many more. This year’s program attracted over 1,500 nominations from over 12 different countries worldwide.

Synergy SIS “breaks through” the field of K-12 student information systems by working as part of a comprehensive data management ecosystem, Synergy Education Platform, which is designed to work as a single, seamless solution. This major market innovation solves the data movement and integrity challenges districts face with systems assembled from disparate components.

Partner districts can easily add modules and extend functionality – including a robust gradebook and the management of online registration, curriculum, content, assessment, response to intervention, special education, and analytics – with data flowing throughout the system in real time. Synergy SIS also includes a unique suite of native, role-based mobile apps that liberate student data management from office, desk, and classroom.

Rob Wilson

“We are thrilled and honored to accept this award from EdTech Breakthrough for our Synergy Student Information System,” said Rob Wilson, president and chief innovation officer at Edupoint. “We believe that a truly robust and supportive student information system must empower educators to interact with the highest quality, real-time data when and where they need it. Everything we do at Edupoint is directed at providing innovative solutions that create real value for partner districts, and we look forward to introducing ongoing innovations within Synergy SIS to meet their evolving needs.

Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC) Selects PowerSchool SIS To Power Member School Districts

PowerSchool, a leading provider of K-12 education technology solutions, announces that its award-winning student information system, PowerSchool SIS, has been selected by the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC) to power their member school districts in California, Washington, and Alaska with secure, flexible, and easy-to-use technology that plays a central role in K-12 education.

Following a rigorous competitive bid process, OETC chose PowerSchool SIS as a recommended option for members, which they can begin implementing now.

OETC Consortium is made up of more than 1,100 educational institutions across three western states. They expertly negotiate contracts on behalf of their members and make purchasing technology convenient, legal, accessible, and affordable for educational institutions. OETC’s selection makes it easier for their members to adopt PowerSchool’s reliable technology without the need to establish a competitive bid process.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer a competitively-bid PowerSchool contract to our more than 1,100 member districts, who can now experience award-winning unified solutions with a leading provider of K-12 education technology,” said Thomas Richards, executive director of OETC. “Although an SIS has been an important part of the educational marketplace for years now, more and more schools are discovering how to use that data to help students. By gaining real-time insight and pinpointing areas of weakness, schools can see enormous gains in attendance and performance.”

With PowerSchool’s industry-leading SIS at the heart of the educational ecosystem, administrators have access to all the tools they need to make sure their district or board runs smoothly. Educators experience simple scheduling, attendance, state reporting, data management, faculty management, enrollment, and more. And they can ensure their data is secure with Microsoft Azure-backed cloud hosting and adherence to the highest security standards. PowerSchool also offers the largest and most active customer community of hundreds and thousands of users for networking, learning, and best practices.

Hardeep Gulati

“PowerSchool SIS supports tens of millions of students globally and is the solution OETC members can trust to provide a fully flexible, configurable, and scalable student information system that will serve as the backbone of their education technology, and our team is committed to working with districts through every step to ensure their success at every level,” said PowerSchool CEO Hardeep Gulati. “We’re proud to work with OETC and look forward to powering their member districts with modern, integrated technology that helps educators and students realize their potential, in their way.”

Blackboard Announces Winners of 2019 Catalyst Awards

Blackboard Inc., a leading education technology company for teaching, learning and student engagement, announces the winners of the 2019 Blackboard Catalyst Awards.

Blackboard Logo (PRNewsFoto/Blackboard Inc.)

Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts. The honorees from across the globe will be recognized during Blackboard’s annual user conference BbWorld, to be held July 23-25, 2019 in Austin, TX.

“We’re thrilled to honor this year’s Blackboard Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to improving the educational experience for all learners through EdTech and sharing these insights with the broader community,” said Lee Blakemore, chief client officer and president, global markets at Blackboard. “Clients like these inspire us to accelerate innovation that drives student success and we’re proud to be a part of their story.”

Below are the winners, listed by category:

Leading Change: This award recognizes institutions that have developed practices and/or technologies that have had a measurable effect on learning outcomes, student performance, or academic progression. The winners are:

Community Engagement: This award recognizes clients who are improving student achievement by fostering a connection between school districts, institutions, educators, students, and their communities. The winners are:

Teaching & Learning: This award recognizes those who have adopted flexible, distance and online delivery, including using mobile technologies to positively impact the educational experience. The winners are:

Inclusive Education: This award honors those institutions whose methods have ensured their pedagogy, content, technology, and educational services are fully inclusive and supportive of all learners with disabilities. The winners are:

Optimizing Student Experience: This award honors those institutions whose educational and administrative innovations have markedly improved the total learner experience. The winners are:

Training & Professional Development: This award recognizes those who use Blackboard programs to support and enhance professional development within or outside of their organization. The winners are:

Student Success: This award recognizes individuals and/or institutions whose creative program application has led to increased retention, increased completion, and/or improved outcomes. The winners are:

For more information on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards and this year’s winners, visit https://community.blackboard.com/groups/catalystawards.

Tools4ever Announces New Technology Partnership With Blackboard

Tools4ever, the leading provider of identity and access management solutions in education, announces a new partnership with Blackboard Inc. The partnership brings together two market-driving education solution providers, offering mutual customers an integration of Blackboard’s flagship Learning Management Solution (LMS) Blackboard Learn Tools4ever’s two flagship solutions namely, their Identity and Access Management product (IAM) and their IDaaS product HelloID. The integration facilitates user lifecycle management across the LMS, SIS, and applications, from a single point of entry.

“We are thrilled to partner with Blackboard to offer our many mutual customers seamless integration between our products,” said Dean Wiech, managing director of Tools4ever. “For more than 20 years, we have built a stronghold in the education industry so it is critical that we partner with other market leaders, such as Blackboard, who offer an exceptional education experience for students and staff.”

Blackboard Learn and IAM

Blackboard Learn is a powerful virtual teaching and learning environment.  Its capabilities extend beyond those of a traditional learning management system (LMS) by expanding online learning, increasing employee engagement and optimizing learning outcomes. IAM connects the Student Information System (SIS) and the user accounts in the network with other systems to automate user provisioning, self-service access management, helpdesk delegation and access governance processes.

The integration will allow mutual customers to extract information from any Student Information System (SIS) and synchronize it with Blackboard Learn. For example, when a student record is created, updated, or deleted in the SIS, IAM detects the change and shares this information with Blackboard Learn. This connection prevents duplicate records, ensures information in Blackboard Learn is always up-to-date, reduces risk of error, and increases efficiency by saving the IT team valuable time.

Blackboard Learn and HelloID

The integration with Blackboard Learn also extends to Tools4ever’s cloud-based Single Sign-On (SSO) product, HelloID. Both Blackboard Learn and HelloID are deployed on the cloud, offering customers a streamlined user experience.

HelloID is a customizable and user-friendly dashboard where students and staff can access all approved teaching and learning applications, including Blackboard Learn. HelloID’s dashboard can be securely accessed from anywhere, on any device, at any time. If a student does not have access to Blackboard Learn, they can request access via the dashboard with HelloID’s Service Automation functionality. The data owner can approve this request which automatically registers in the IT infrastructure, granting the student immediate access.