future_of_student_affairsThere will come the point shortly when these five forces — mobile, social media, data, sensors (internet of things), and location, as Robert Scoble and Shel Israel call them in their book “Age of Context” will transform student affairs. As with every technology, the applications of these technologies have negative and positive consequences. Privacy is undoubtedly at the forefront of concerns. For example, this article concerns proposed legislation on cell phone tracking in retail stores. Consider these probable scenarios:

– A student walks into a building, let’s say career services, and is presented with information based on their location. This information could be done using a combination of wireless sensors like iBeacon by Apple and a student’s mobile device. This is a concept called geo-fencing. To further extend this idea, more personalized information could be relayed to the student’s mobile device based on personally identifiable information (PII) emitted by their mobile device or the identification card they carry. The student would have granted the transmission and availability of these PII.

– A student living on campus feels ill, so they go to the student health center. This self-quantifier student, has a gadget on his wrist, like a more advanced Fitbit, that monitors and records their activities and body functions, including heartbeat, blood pressure, etc. This info is stored in the cloud. With the student’s permission, the physician accesses the student’s records and electronic records from the student’s physician(s) to diagnose the cause of the illness and determine further actions.

– An online student logs on to a website. The system automatically retrieves information about this student from university and third-party systems, including academic, personal, mental, and physical health,  financial, and extra-curricular activities. It does a complex analysis of these related data and provides a holistic picture of this student. Based on patterns observed with other students with the same profile, the system presents personalized information to the student, including suggested actions to take. In addition, the technique could also alert an advisor, which prompts the student for a virtual advising session.

How likely are these scenarios above going to happen? I can’t predict the future, but I think, given where technology is today, I sense that these scenarios could happen sooner than later.

What are your thoughts on the possible scenarios above? Do you think they’re conceivable? What are the issues involved?

photo credit: http://iq.intel.com/iq/33226615/the-quantifiable-self-wearable-computers-mean-more-reliable-data