Predicting Student Success - Scott McCollum, Chief Information Officer at Sinclair Community College




 

Scott McCollum

Chief Information Officer | Sinclair Community College

 

Sinclair Community College has been an important part of Scott McCollum’s life and Scott McCollum has been just as much a part of life at Sinclair Community College. Next year will mark McCollum’s 30th year of working at Sinclair.

The 130-year-old institution is one of the largest community colleges in the nation. The high-water mark for student enrollment is 26,000. Its main campus is located in downtown Dayton and the college has regional learning centers throughout southwest Ohio. Sinclair also has a full-service campus in Mason that offers 50 academic programs.

As chief information officer, McCollum is responsible for all technology infrastructure, setting policy and procedures for the smooth operation and security of the college’s network and applications. Over the last 10 years, that responsibility has extended further and further out of the back office and administrative area, and into the education process where professors and students rely on technology products, their devices and the network for learning and assessment activity.

The extensive use of educational publisher’s technology products on the college infrastructure presents a challenge for McCollum and his staff. There are no standards for stability, performance and function of these products. McCollum often finds himself troubleshooting third-party products that staff and students rely on and assume he controls.

McCollum has acted to insure a positive experience for technology users in the college community. Applications are virtualized and reside centrally apart from students’ computers. This allows users to access those applications from any device anywhere that has access to the network. Policies for centralized storage of data provides further protection and contribute to network security and incident remediation. Any compromised computer can be reimaged with a student’s software and data. McCollum was an early adopter of Network Access Control, which provides the ability to allow or reject the connection of any device anywhere on the network. The network is further protected by firewalls and antispam and antivirus software. A Chief Information Security Officer, (CISO) oversees security including patch protocols and periodic reinitializing all infrastructure equipment.

This summer, Sinclair opened a new Health Science Center entirely retrofitted for wired and wireless access. Though proud of his infrastructure accomplishments, McCollum is most proud of the software development his team has produced and deployed to enhance Sinclair’s goal to ensure the success of their students. Efforts have concentrated on collection and analysis of data to understand those needs. That analysis is used to guide development of course schedules – the days, time, and number of course sessions offered and the number of faculty hired.

Going further, data analysis of student behavior in collaboration with other community colleges and with support from grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is helping Sinclair develop models of successful students, taking into account data points far outside grades, attendance, and degree attainment. This guides changes to the schedules and programs Sinclair offers and helps promote behavior that predicts student success.