For small educational institutions like Central Wyoming College (CWC), enhancing the student experience is a critical part of maintaining enrollment. Today’s students want and need access to flexible tools for working with their classmates, as well as communicating with teachers. “We have to provide as many services as a larger college, like applications that work on mobile devices,” says John Wood, CIO of Central Wyoming College. “But costs have to remain fixed. We can’t double the size of the IT department or double our budget, so a cloud-based model seemed like the right fit.”
Cloud-based tools could also respond to the unique challenges faced by a community college in a rural area, with students, faculty and staff traveling long distances to get to school. The school’s 2,000 students are spread across four campuses as well as remote wilderness sites for its Outdoor Education program. “It’s extremely hard for our students to get together in person,” Wood says.
At the same time, students are being encouraged to work on teams. “Collaboration among students is much more common than it was several years ago,” Wood says. Professors assign projects to groups of students, not single students. Collaboration has become the norm on the staff side as well, Wood adds: “I can’t think of the last time I worked on a project by myself.