Day #2 of Sungard Summit 2011 had a nearly overwhelming number of tracks. I often felt it was an embarrassment of riches; in many periods there were several sessions I would have liked to attend. However, this also presents an ongoing learning opportunity for me and for the SHU team. We can continue the discussions and learning back in New Jersey by taking advantage of the many online presentations from Summit 2011 that will be available shortly.
Meanwhile, here are some of the highlights for me from Day #2. Other participants in the on ground or virtual summit have attended different sessions or might have different highlights of the sessions I attended, so I am looking forward to additional posts on Day #2 sessions.
“DIY U – the Coming Transformation of Higher Education” by author Anya Kamenetz. Ms. Kamenetz noted that the costs of both private and public institutions for higher education have risen sharply the past several decades, and these costs have risen much higher than the rate of inflation. Ms. Kamenetz discussed several causes of this phenomenon, but focused on technology as a major contributor in the following sense: most industries have used technology to dramatically increase productivity, but certain services have not, due in part to the nature of their craft; as a result, the relative cost of such services has risen compared to other products and services. Ms. Kamenetz suggests several areas where higher education can use technology to reduce costs while at the same time improving student learning. There are open content initiatives, such as open textbooks and open course sites; these have the potential to reduce faculty work in preparing course materials while at the same time reducing cost to the students. There are social learning initiatives that seek to connect subject matter experts with learning communities in ways that cross course or institutional boundaries; such collaborations have the potential to provide greater institutional support for students without increasing institutional costs. And there are alternative ways emerging to certify mastery of certain concepts or programs that will make certification or accreditation of learning more transparent and more portable. Ms. Kamenetz contends that these trends are going to enable the transformation of higher education, and tightening credit along with government mandates are going to force higher to adopt some or all of these changes.
“Banner Enterprise Identity Services Overview and Update” outlined some of the new Identity Management features available in Banner 8. The short summary of this talk is that many of the customizations SHU did in Banner 7 to enable Banner integration with Oracle Identity Management are now baseline in Banner 8. The takeaway from this presentaiton is that in the next year or so SHU should re-implement Oracle Identity Management using the Banner 8 baseline “hooks” from Banner into standard identity management systems.
“introduction to Groovy and Grails” was an interesting overview of Groovy on Grails as a development environment. Banner 9 is being developed in this environment. One advantage of Groovy on Grails is its simplicity; Groovy on Grails is based on Java but has a powerful set of libraries that simplify coding and make it easy to modularize and re-use code. As a result, you can more rapidly develop and deploy new features using this framework. The takeaway from this talk is that Banner 9 is coming, and indeed is closer than we think, and institutional knowledge of Java and Groovy on Grails is important to institutions’ success with Banner 9, just as knowledge of PL/SQL was important to success with Banner 8.
“Web for Proxy Set Up Tips” outlined some of the features and functionality coming in Banner Web for Proxy. SHU was a development partner with Sungard and several other colleges and universities in developing Web for Proxy. In short, Web for Proxy is a powerful set of tools that enable users to authorize access to certain Banner Self Service information to their “proxies”, who may not be part of the University and therefore may not even have a General Person record. For example, a student may give proxy access to a parent to view her grades. In this case, the parent may receive an email with a link to Web for Proxy. The student will set up a PIN that will authorize the parent’s access (similar to logging in). The takeaway for me from this session is that this is a feature that SHU will want to implement as soon as practical.
“Banner Student Product Roadmap” was essentially a rehash of the Banner Student Kickoff presentation. The short version is that Banner Horizon has been re-branded Banner 9; Banner 9 will be modularized and will co-exist with Banner 8 (avoiding the need for the “forklift upgrade” SHU went through with the Banner 7 to Banner 8 migration); the first Banner 9 modules will be available in the next six months; no desupport date for Banner 8 is being announced, but it will be “several years out.”
Overall I learned a lot from Day #2. The biggest takeaway for me was that there are a lot of new features in Banner 8 that SHU hasn’t yet implemented. The SHU team should reconvene soon to debrief on all our findings, but a push to more fully implement the feature set we already own should be one of our institutional projects for the coming year.
Steve Landry, CIO