EnlightenEd

CEO Blog: Blockchains in Education

CEO Blog: Blockchains in Education

by Kiran Kodithala

As educational institutions start thinking of new models of learning and affordable education, one of the common threads for this transformation is enabling a student to enroll in a course at any institution and apply this course towards his degree progression. This interoperability and interconnectivity between educational institutions is so vital that some state legislatures have passed laws to mandate institutions within the state to allow students to cross-enroll. While this is a very noble effort it is often very difficult to implement because of the disparity between each educational institution and lack of common standards for sharing data. Such interoperability is difficult and may require contracts between institutions to respect the disparities between course catalogs, student grades, and other administrative data.

Thanks to Blockchain technology, such issues can easily be resolved by exposing institutional data thorough standardized APIs. N2N’s Integration Platform, Illuminate, can enable Blockchain
APIs at participating institutions. These Blockchain APIs can be used real-time or ad-hoc to support the development of a secure online database that stores the rules and contracts between participating institutions.

Real-world examples of  Blockchains in education use-cases include:
1. Participating institutions upload course catalogs to the Blockchain system and map institution’s course catalog to the Blockchain master catalog

2. Participating institutions upload grading policies to the Blockchain system and map institution’s grading scale to Blockchain master grading scale

3. Participating institutions upload transfer policies to the Blockchain system and map institution’s transfer policies to Blockchain master transfer policies

4. Students search for available courses on the Blockchain course shopping cart

5. Students register for a course of their choice from an institution of their preference through Blockchain registration module

6. Students can upload their unstructured learning portfolio to Blockchain Personal Value Ledger (PVL)

7. Students can submit their PVL to participating institutions for earning course credits towards their degree progression

8. Students can submit their PVL to participating employers to apply for a job.

Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt how we learn, graduate and earn in ways we can only dream of. The Illuminate Platform’s turnkey SIS APIs, Blockchain Support and Integration API catalogs can enable a seamless transition to this bright future.

 


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How Learning Management Systems Have Evolved Over The Years

How Learning Management Systems Have Evolved Over The Years

Learning management systems have become essential to higher education institutions since their inception. Among other functions, LMS allow students and professors to communicate, assign and complete homework, and report and check grades—all through one application on their phone, tablet, or laptop. The change that LMS has brought to class management and learning is huge, but it didn’t happen all at once.

Learning management systems have evolved a great deal over the years, from the humblest of beginnings to the powerful, multi-functional LMS that most students use today.

In their most basic form, LMS began in 1960 with the PLATO program at the University of Illinois. Programmed Logic For Automated Operations wasn’t much by today’s standards, but it was the first step down a path that would eventually lead us to today’s advanced LMS.

After PLATO, LMS gradually became more capable and advanced, until FirstClass came out in 1990. This was the real beginning of what we now consider an LMS, using collaborative features that included private email and public forums. FirstClass pioneered much of what we see today in LMS, and it’s still being used in new iterations.

The pace of new innovations began to pick up after the turn of the century, and one of the first new additions to LMS was Moodle in 2002—the first open-source LMS available. It simply had to be downloaded to a home PC, and anyone could start learning using the LMS. Moodle is also still very popular as an open-source LMS.

In 2005, VirtualOnDemand allowed users to train in software programs using just a web browser for the first time—another significant step in the progress toward modern LMS.

Then in 2008, Eucalyptus became the first free, open-sourced, and cloud-based LMS. Run entirely from the cloud, it required no servers or internal networks, marking a monumental change in the technology behind LMS. 2008 was also the same year that mobile access to the internet exceeded desktop access for the first time. As we now know, mobile access to LMS has taken off, as students expect to be able to access grades, messages, homework, and even quizzes from their mobile devices.

In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, cloud based computing gained even more momentum, and SaaS learning management systems have grown—allowing campuses to use these advanced programs without installing any new in-house systems. And it’s not just LMS that are using the cloud. Many functions that used to be in-house are being transferred to the cloud.

The SaaS revolution has led to campuses adding new apps and systems like LMS, as well as a variety of others. And all of those new, cloud-based apps have to work together with each other, as well as with older, legacy IT systems. If your campus is looking for a way to integrate all of these disparate apps and systems, then contact N2N Services today. We’ll show you how a comprehensive integration platform can help you get the most out of your LMS, and provide your students with the best possible education.


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N2N and Modo Labs – Changing the face of mobile apps in higher education

N2N and Modo Labs – Changing the face of mobile apps in higher education

At N2N, our goal is to solve the systems integration challenges of educational institutions and support an integrated digital campus. We achieve this by helping our partners and their clients with all of their integration needs, using our state-of-the-art Integration Platform as a Service. Now, colleges and universities are able to easily integrate new, cloud-based apps with their existing IT apps and systems in a cost-effective manner. Illuminate acts a translator for these disparate apps and systems, allowing them to integrate seamlessly with each other.

Students and faculty may not know it, but when they use their mobile apps, they’re accessing information from several different departments, and this information has to get to them quickly and securely. At N2N, we want those apps to be as safe and effective as possible, and that’s why we’ve teamed up with Modo Labs to combine our services and make it easier than ever for colleges and universities to develop and implement their own mobile apps.

Using their Kurogo Platform, Modo Labs is putting powerful mobile implementation and development capabilities directly into the hands of non-developers. So instead of hiring costly app developers or expensive consultants, higher education institutions can develop mobile apps that are ideal for their campus’without the traditional costs. Kurogo’s unique combination of data access, powerful pre-built functionality, and ease-of-use dramatically reduces mobile development time and costs.

The combination of Kurogo and Illuminate provides colleges and universities with the ability to design mobile apps that fit their needs, and to make sure that those apps will be effectively integrated with their present systems. The broad range of disparate data sources faced by most universities can be easily integrated and accessed through N2N’s powerful Illuminate data engine, and in turn, quickly mobilized into a rich mobile experience through the Kurogo mobile app assembly platform.

Kiran Kodithala, President and CEO of N2N Services, puts it like this. “Students, Administrators and Faculty at campuses have been looking for a comprehensive mobile app that they can use for student engagement and student success. This partnership gives institutions of higher education the best of all worlds. While N2N provides secure enterprise data access, Modo Labs offers the best-of-breed front-end mobile experience that makes it possible to quickly leverage that data on any device.”

The partnership between N2N and Modo Labs is a dramatic step towards our goal of a fully integrated campus, where students can access their information at any time, and be sure that their personal data is safe and secure on the app they are using. Kurogo and Illuminate are two powerful platforms that together are changing the way colleges and universities think about their options for mobile applications.

At N2N, we pride ourselves on our partnerships with some of the most innovative companies in higher education, and we’re not done yet. If you’d like to hear more about how partnering with N2N Services can help your business, then contact us today.


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Get the IT You Deserve with Illuminate

Get the IT You Deserve with Illuminate

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Joe Peppard argues that executives get the IT they deserve. Peppard compares the relative ease and simplicity of digital services in these executives personal lives to the complicated nature of digital services in the corporate world.

This is because in the corporate world, there is a good chance that every software application is going to have to work in sync with several others. Information has to be shared across platforms and systems if there you are going to have a successful IT department. Peppard uses the analogy of traveling to a different city to see a band. For each portion of your trip, flight, hotel, and concert ticket, you would have to enter your personal information and credit card information separately. The systems don’t share your information, and so you’re forced to complete the same forms multiple times.

“Operating this way today is a big no-no in the corporate world. Imagine if your company?s internal applications couldn’t share data and processes carrying out similar functions or tasks, had different interfaces and screen layouts, and required different passwords. Just think of the inefficiencies and opportunities for errors,” Peppard writes.

It’s true. If you can’t share information securely, you’re going to have an incredibly frustrating and inefficient system that limits what you and your users can accomplish. In an environment with many different systems processing sensitive data, such as a college, it’s imperative that that data is shared in a simple and secure manner.

At N2N, we understand the need for safe and seamless data transfers between software applications and systems. That’s why we’ve created an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) software suite, the Illuminate platform, which is designed specifically for the world of higher education. A college or university has a myriad of applications and systems that students and faculty access every day. Keeping all of these applications working together and sharing data flawlessly is a huge task, but one made easy with Illuminate.

The designers of the Illuminate platform understand that there is no one-size-fits-all fix for integrating the diverse set of applications that exist on every college campus today. Illuminate takes the applications and systems that fit a college’s specific needs and integrates them via on central hub: the Enterprise Service Bus.

The Enterprise Service Bus is an architecture that allows many different applications to run together as part of one infrastructure. It integrates these applications, manages access to them, and presents them in one interface. With Illuminate, students can check grades, view financial aid status, and perform other previously time-consuming tasks right from their mobile device. On your end, Illuminate’s cloud-based format helps keep costs low and provides you with the ability to analyze data more efficiently, leaving you with the resources you need to make good decisions about business and your students’ educations.

If you think your college could benefit from the Illuminate platform and our team of dedicated professionals, contact N2N Integration today.


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Top IT Issues for 2016

Top IT Issues for 2016

Educause recently published their Research Snapshot, Top 10 IT Issues 2016. We?d like to give you N2N?s perspective on some of these important issues, and our thoughts on how our Illuminate platform can help institutions address these areas.

  1. First on the list is Information Security. This is a perennial concern, and is an area that has consistently, and justifiably, been a top issue for IT leaders. Concern is needed, as our interconnected world opens many avenues for malfeasance. N2N?s Illuminate platform can be an asset here, as one of its core value propositions is to make it easier for users to manage data interconnections between applications. Having a central platform with controls for data exchange and logging of transactions helps users understand where and to whom data is moving.
  2. Educause states that technology leaders must work with academic leadership and faculty to Optimize Educational Technology. That is certainly true, and especially so in today?s fast-moving world where an institution?s perceived competitiveness can be tied to its ability to seamlessly integrate its administrative and academic technologies. N2N?s Illuminate platform has out-of-the-box adapters for many popular ed-tech (educational technology) applications, and also creates application programming interfaces to institutional data that can be leveraged by in-house developers.
  3. Student Success Technologies are critical to improve educational outcomes. Leveraging technology means sharing data, and unfortunately, much institutional data is stuck in its own silo, and each time it needs to be provided to a new, innovative application, a customized interface must be written and maintained. N2N?s Illuminate addresses this by leveraging its core Enterprise Service Bus technology to convert a complex web of interconnections and a ?one-to-one? integration philosophy to a ?one-to-many? paradigm, helping an institution to be nimble in its use of changing tools.
  4. Enterprise Application Integrations (#8)?are a key to efficient and effective institutional operations, and are the core value proposition of the N2N Illuminate platform. The Illuminate platform?s ready-to-use adapters for common educational enterprise applications makes it easy to connect legacy systems to its Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). This ?one-to-many? connectivity model allows technical staff to focus on areas where they add unique value to their organization rather than continually building and maintaining a mesh of ?one-off? connections.

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