Blackboard has acquired point-of-sale manufacturer Sequoia Retail Systems, a provider of comprehensive POS solutions for educational institutions. The move will bring new dining, retail and bookstore POS and inventory/operations management capabilities to Blackboard Transact, the education technology company’s campus ID, transaction, security and financial solutions arm.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Sequoia traces roots back to its founding in 1984 when it began servicing college bookstore operations. Today, the company outfits more than 300 clients with POS, retail bookstore and inventory management solutions. An exclusive focus on the education market has, from the outset, enabled Sequoia to leverage the campus ID to make purchases online, on a mobile device or at a register.
Sequoia has long been a key partner of Blackboard Transact, serving as one of a small set of approved POS solution providers. The acquisition will serve to build on the existing, decade-long partnership.
“We’ve continued to be impressed over the years with Sequoia's innovation and single dedication to the education community,” says David Marr, SVP for Blackboard Transact. “Given the parallel paths of our long-term partnership, commitment to the campus community and the students we serve, we wanted to put our support behind Sequoia to further accelerate innovation and service levels."
Between prior collaborative experience and a common vision of serving the higher education space, it’s a move Marr says just makes sense. “People have said for years that it was only natural for our organizations to join together. We’re culturally an elegant fit,” he says. “We both care about students in a sincere way, we take pride in how we serve our clients, and we hold ourselves accountable.”
Blackboard Transact will remain committed to providing campuses with a choice of multiple technologies including POS solutions. Blackboard says the acquisition will not impact the company’s commitment to its other valued POS partners, including Micros, NCR and Vivonet.
“People may ask what this means for our clients that have other POS systems, but as demonstrated throughout our solution portfolio, we’re absolutely committed to offering client choice,” says Jeff Staples, Vice President of Market Development for Blackboard Transact. “We support a variety of POS options today and will continue to do so. Similarly, we look forward to providing the same outstanding solutions and service to those Sequoia clients who may have a card system from another vendor.”
Sequoia, too, will remain dedicated to its roster of independent college bookstore clients, with Blackboard’s resources expected to empower Sequoia to further reinforce its offerings and services.
“Blackboard and Sequoia were born and raised in the higher education space. I’m excited about the opportunities that joining the Blackboard Transact team presents,” says Jim Zaorski, CEO for Sequoia Retail Systems. “Combining Blackboard’s offerings, financial strength and customer success with Sequoia’s innovations, reputation and 30 years of college and university experience, creates a company with an unparalleled portfolio and capabilities.”
For more on the history of Sequoia Retail Systems, and its growth from campus bookstore solutions to larger campus commerce technology, see CR80News' previous coverage. For more on Blackboard’s acquisition of Sequoia Retail Systems, visit www.Blackboard.com/Sequoia.
New Jersey's Montclair State University has partnered with Deals4Meals.com, an emerging online ordering and delivery service, to begin accepting the university's campus card and Red Hawk Dollars as a form of online payment beginning this summer.
Montclair State will join a pocket of Northeastern campuses to partner with Deals4Meals, which despite being in business since November 2011, is yet to make significant inroads on campuses nationwide. The company opened its Seed Funding Round on May 18th, and earlier this year partnered with the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ and New York's Pace University on both their Lower Manhattan and Pleasantville, NY campuses.
Deals4Meals has also worked with Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ since early 2013 and is looking to add other campuses in the Northeast in the early stages of its expansion. The company offers a virtual food court of sorts and a dedicated delivery service for restaurants and other local merchants. Students can order for pick up or delivery and pay with their student ID card just as they would on campus. Credit, debit and cash payments are also accepted.
Deals4Meals hopes to have added 10-12 campuses by year's end 2016, but company CEO and Founder, Kenneth Cucchia, is hesitant to project growth beyond that. "As this year comes to an end, I'll have a pretty good idea of where we're at," he says. "The schools we're pushing live in the coming months happen to be pretty conveniently located for us, but next year we'll have decisions to make in terms of our direction. I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge."
Biometric device manufacturer, Credence ID has partnered with West African software solutions integrator, Vatebra, to implement a biometric student ID project to assist in vetting student identity in Nigeria.
Per a report from Find Biometrics, the system will leverage Credence ID’s CredenceOne mobile fingerprint scanning devices to authenticate the identities of student test-takers. The biometrics solution has helped to mitigate instances of identity fraud in Nigeria’s statewide student testing, and is now being used by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). Initial tests have reportedly caught the attention of authorities in neighboring Gambia, Ghana and Sierra Leone, all of which are planning similar deployments with Credence ID and Vatebra.
The biometrics initiative dates back to June of 2015 when Credence ID revealed it would provide the authentication technology for state-administered student examinations in Nigeria. According to reports at that time, the contract included the deployment of 1,000 CredenceOne mobile fingerprint sensor devices, to be used by the state of Nigeria to vet students during the tests.
The CredenceOne device features three on-board sensors on-board, as well as a completely integrated smart card reader system. The device also houses a FIPS-201 certified, 500 DPI capacitive fingerprint sensor.
The device also features a 4-inch full touch screen and dual-core processor for quick and intuitive actions. As for connectivity, the device supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and 3G cellular networking, along with built-in GPS capability that enables the use of geolocation, time stamping and other location services.
The reader boasts a fully open development platform, enabling application customization. Credence ID extended the open Android development framework to include the additional biometric and card reader functions, enabling developers to use all pre-existing Android application templates when designing custom interfaces for the CredenceOne device.
The University of California, Davis has decided to forgo a contract extension with food-service vendor Sodexo and instead implement university management and staff to self-manage its campus food-service operations.
According to an official university release, the changeover will take place during the 2016-17 academic year, but no official transition date has been set. The change would affect residential dining, the student union, university catering and retail dining locations on the UC Davis campus.
Sodexo has held the UC Davis food-service contract for 46 years. The most recent renewal of the long-standing contract was worth an estimated $34 million for one year, and is set to expire on June 30. Representatives from UC Davis and Sodexo will meet in early June to discuss an extension that would run until the changeover takes effect.
The decision to self-manage comes after consultation with campus leadership, and an extensive examination of the proposed transition by UC Davis' student affairs and student housing departments. One possible silver lining to the transition could come in the form of staffing. While Sodexo provides the management personnel, UC Davis employs the Dining Services staff of 790 -- including 570 student workers -- and has since 2009. The university's current director of Hospitality and Dining Services will lead the new management team, and regular meetings with campus partners are planned to ensure a smooth transition.
“We’ve had a good relationship with Sodexo,” says Emily Galindo, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs and executive director of Student Housing. “But we’ve reached the point where we see a great deal of opportunity for our students, other customers and for UC Davis as a whole, in doing it ourselves.”
Following the transition, UC Davis will operate:
An increasingly common challenge facing universities and colleges is how best to prove student identity in cyberspace. Particularly as an increasing number of courses offer online exams, the need to properly vet students has become paramount. Texas State is the latest institution to recognize this need, and beginning in the fall, the university will implement an online proctoring solution for exams taken by students enrolled in online courses.
According to the University Star, the university plans to eventually offer online exam proctoring for all online courses through a third-party service provider after first executing a pilot phase on summer courses. Texas State has reportedly mulled the idea of online exam proctoring since the turn of the new year and has already reviewed proposals from a number of providers. After reviewing the available solutions, university officials narrowed the list to two providers, ProctorU and Examity.
To aid in the final decision, the university has organized a pilot program for online courses held during the first in the first summer session. ProctorU and Examity have agreed to provide services for a total of 600 exams as part of the pilot program.
Students enrolled in the nine summer courses chosen for the pilot will test one of the two proctoring services, with students and faculty both offering feedback on their experience. With the feedback, university officials hope to identify any difficulties in the process, whether technical support was needed, and in general, ensure a positive user experience.
Depending on the solution, at the time of logging in to the online exam, students will turn on their webcam to be supervised by the service provider and verify their identity, in part, by presenting a student ID. As is the case with may proctoring solutions, students will be required to have a webcam with microphone, Internet connectivity and a browser.
University officials are also working to ensure that identification measures for online exams are in line with any privacy concerns. “Part of the conversation right now with the providers is looking at what identification will be deemed appropriate in the process,” said Carlos Solis, associate vice president of Instructional Technologies Support at Texas State, in an interview with The Star. “The possibility will be that students will hold up their student ID.”
For students at the University of California, Santa Barbara tickets to the university's recent Extravaganza music festival were, quite literally, a hot-ticket item. So much so that some students were renting out or selling their student IDs -- on which the event tickets were provisioned -- to other students and individuals not connected to the university.
Extravaganza is an annual free campus music festival held on the UCSB campus. The event draws thousands of students every year, and is only open to UCSB students. According to a report from the Daily Nexus, several students were referred to UCSB’s Office of Judicial Affairs for trying to rent or sell their IDs to non-UCSB students.
Simple searches on Facebook were returning as many as 40 posts either seeking or wishing to sell a student ID card in the run up to the event. Students looking to make a quick buck were posting their IDs on Facebook, with offers rolling in for anywhere from $20 to $50.
The event is funded and hosted by the university's Associated Students Program Board. Professional security was hired for the event and instructed to examine student ID cards. Instructions for ID verification included ensuring that faces matched the picture on the cards, and that the ID photos were not scratched out to the point that they were unrecognizable.
University officials had seen this problem in years past, but the volume of students selling IDs on social media was significant for this year's event. The Associated Students Program Board does have ID card scanners, but it is unclear whether the group used the scanners at the gate. UCSB's dean of student life, says that students who were flagged for selling their ID card had to, at the very least, speak with a university administrator.
Like many universities George Mason is rapidly expanding its campus, constructing new facilities and residence halls, and deploying new services on a virtually continuous basis. The latest renovation for the commonwealth of Virginia’s largest public university is an overhaul of the outdated Mason ID card system.
For over a decade, George Mason had been issuing Mason ID cards to students, faculty and contractors that leveraged magnetic stripe technology. These legacy cards wore out quickly, and among other things, lacked the cryptographic capabilities that smart cards offer. Moreover, the university also found it difficult to update and manage old campus door locks and cards.
As a result, the university decided to deploy a more secure and comprehensive one card solution that promises better security and efficient end-to-end issuance, as well as the ability to connect cardholders to new services and departments on campus. Central to George Mason's search for a system was a cost-effective migration plan that could completely replace the campus' legacy student ID card system.
Needing to address increasing security challenges, university officials decided that greater campus security could be achieved by moving to contactless smart card technology. The university also wanted to leverage the efficiency and convenience of a flexible, one card solution that enabled the Mason ID to be used for not only access control, but other value-added applications and services both on and off campus. These factors saw the George Mason move to a new and comprehensive ID solution that will see its more than 30,000 on-campus cardholders issued a new credential.
By working with HID Global and parent company ASSA ABLOY, George Mason designed an end-to-end ID solution that will enable university administrators to migrate from the existing card system over a projected five-year period. The plan will leverage multi-technology cards and readers, compatible with the legacy student ID cards and the existing hardware on campus. The new solution will be deployed over time and consist of three primary components.
First, George Mason will deploy HID Global multiCLASS SE readers, along with PERSONA Campus Software and SARGENT Passport locks from ASSA ABLOY. Chosen for their built-in encryption and enhanced security, the multi-technology readers and locks also support the legacy magstripe cards used on campus in addition to newer, contactless card technology.
Second, the university will issue Seos smart cards from HID Global. The Seos credentials were chosen for their advanced security, interoperability between the new locks and readers, and their ability to support multiple card applications. As an example, the George Mason leveraged HID's OMNIKEY desktop readers to extend the Seos card’s use to check out library books and to pay for meals in the dining hall.
Finally, HID's FARGO DTC4500e ID card printers and encoders along with Asure ID card personalization software will be installed at George Mason's campus card office. Cards are personalized by printing student information to the card, while at the same time encoding and programming both magstripe and Seos technologies in a single, inline issuance process. Total issuance time has been significantly reduced, data entry mistakes eliminated, and the new ID cards are printed at higher quality with more durable lamination.
“One of our goals is to get the students out of the card office as quickly as possible. We wanted something that was seamless, so staff could search for the person, verify the identity, print the card and hand it to the person, knowing that it would work right away,” says Jerry Baugh, Director of the Mason Card Office at George Mason University. “With the new printers and Asure ID software, we were able to streamline the entire card process and set up a true one-stop shop on campus that not only reduced the waiting time for the students, but produced a more durable and better looking card that eliminated the hassle and costs of replacing cards that used to wear out too quickly.”
George Mason worked closely with HID Global and ASSA ABLOY to chart a three-year card migration path for its new solution. To date, George Mason has installed 3,500 new HID Global readers and ASSA ABLOY locks, as well as issued more than 12,000 new Mason ID cards to incoming freshmen. The university expects to complete its card migration by 2017 with more readers and locks to follow.
The new Mason ID cards, with Seos smart card technology, will initially be used for accessing academic facilities, residence halls, the campus library and dining services. The multi-technology readers and locks will help to ensure the total system works with the older magstripe ID cards still in use for these utilities. Potential new applications for the renovated Mason ID includes cashless payment for the Washington, D.C. transit system, time and attendance at the campus rec center, and the generation of one-time password (OTP) soft tokens to enable students and faculty to access cloud applications, data and other services in the future.
The university now has state-of-the-art campus security as well as real-time control when a lock-down or other changes are needed. The university can also more easily modify its access control system, including updating card privileges, revoking and replacing lost or stolen cards, and adding or removing applications, all while providing students convenient access to numerous aspects of campus life.
The move to a Seos-based technology solution has provided the university with more freedom of choice and the ability to add more applications as it scales in the future, while providing confidence that the university has implemented increased security and privacy protection for students and staff. Looking forward, George Mason has positioned itself to take full advantage of its new one card ID system to extend not only the use cases for the Mason ID, but the form factor of the student ID itself.
“For us, Seos is a short step. We want bigger, better, newer, faster. We know mobile credentials are coming and we want to be positioned," says Danny Anthes, Senior Manager of Information Technology at George Mason University. "We know our readers are already there, so the ability for us to leverage mobile credentials, and send those to the phone, will be our next step."
"I think Seos goes beyond just door access, it speaks better to the credential and pieces we have in that," adds Anthes. "It allows us to put the destiny of the department back into their own hands.”
By Jude Kiah, Assistant Vice President of Auxiliary Services, Xavier University
The United States has entered a challenging period in the history of its workforce. For the first time, there are four generations in the workplace simultaneously. And the newest generation, the Millennials, have entered the workplace with a far different view of work than their predecessors.
There are more than 75 million of them, more than the Baby Boomers they are replacing and far more than Generation X – and Millennials are proving to be a managerial challenge unlike previous generations. Even as employers are spending increasing money and time recruiting and training them, Millennials are leaving jobs earlier and with much greater frequency. This is true across fields, and auxiliary services and card offices are no exception.
[pullquote]Even as employers are spending increasing money and time recruiting and training them, Millennials are leaving jobs earlier and with much greater frequency. This is true across fields, and auxiliary services and card offices are no exception.[/pullquote]
Even though “organizational commitment” continues to be a reliable predictor of an employee’s turnover intention, the definition of what commits an employee to a job is changing. Millennials desire more intense coaching, flexibility and quicker advancement than previous generations. Employers have a keen interest in understanding what connects Millennials to the workplace and what, if anything can reduce these higher rates of turnover.
Recently, I finished a qualitative study of Millennials to find out, from them, how their work values have shifted, what they desire in an employer and what causes them to leave with greater frequency than previous generations. I believe the results can help attract and retain new professionals to auxiliary services.
In the study, five major themes emerged highlighting Millennial values. Topping the list, achieving work-life balance evoked the most passionate responses. The theme was visceral to every participant. Regardless of the structure of their workday, all participants expressed a desire for flexibility in the job itself or that the job afforded enough flexibility outside of work.
Compensation in many forms was cited a reason to take a job, leave one or pine for a new employer, but how Millennials define compensation varies. Many of them were ardent about benefits, including health insurance, retirement accounts and flex time. They seek to rise in their profession for the appropriation of influence or added flexibility. In addition to income, all mentioned a singular focus: to pursue happiness.
Autonomy was another common goal. Not all want to be a CEO or have a corner office, but all did want the power to make decisions in their sphere. Conversely, they didn’t want their supervisors to micro-manage their decisions.
Poor management tops the list of reasons they leave employers. The definition of poor management varied, but once they deemed a supervisor to be incompetent, they report actively looking for a job nearly immediately.
Poor management was seen as a deal breaker and many report deciding almost immediately, regardless of financial sacrifice, that they could not continue to work for a boss that had values misaligned with their own. In many cases, they said supervisors had no idea they were unhappy until their resignation letter was on the desk. Whether the managers were cavalier is debatable, but it is clear that they didn’t have a grasp of what their subordinates were thinking, feeling or planning.
Millennials see the workplace differently and don’t feel that the unwritten rules apply to them. They don’t subscribe to the concept of “paying dues” feel strongly that their age should not serve as a barrier to their ideas being given credibility.
For employers, much of the last decade has been spent defining the differences between Millennials and previous generations. But as the study shows, concentrating on the differences of Millennials does not solve the turnover problem. This requires a different approach to leadership.
To be successful in reducing turnover, employers will need to spend less effort expressing disdain and confusion at what they perceive to be work values that are antithetical to their own. Instead they should make more of an effort understanding Millennials’ definitions of work values. This will have to happen to recruit and retain Millennials as the quest to find those that have work values similar to their own may prove futile.
Above all else, work-life balance will clearly need to be redefined to retain Millennials. There has been an increasing propensity in the workplace to work harder, have less personal time, and to do more with less, but Millennials are refusing to subscribe to the prior-generation’s theory of work.
Some employers see the increased need for balance among Millennials as a decrease in loyalty or work ethic. This view places work above personal life, and not alongside it as Millennials strongly assert it should be. There are many ways – flextime, telecommuting, job sharing, flexible work days, etc. – by which that balance can be struck, and where Millennials work ethic can be retained and even increased.
Georgetown University is hard at work on making improvements to its campus IT infrastructure, as well as developing educational initiatives to inform the campus community of potential hacking and other cyber threats. Also included in the IT overhaul is a proposed move to Canvas as the university's next online management system as part of a gradual shift that will eventually replace its current Blackboard learning management system.
Per a report from The Hoya, the changeover is set to begin with the coming fall semester and marks just one of a host of steps toward overhauling the university’s technology infrastructure. Canvas will be offered as an alternative learning management system to Blackboard for the coming fall semester, with professors having the option to either make the jump to Canvas or continue with the current Blackboard system, allowing for a gradual transition.
The university's Interim Vice President for Information Services, Judd Nicholson, says that Georgetown was one of the first institutions to adopt Blackboard's learning management system dating back to the system's inception. Nicholson adds that Canvas was chosen as an alternative to Blackboard for its "user-friendly platform and tools for collaboration."
The university's technological infrastructure overhaul also includes efforts to improve internet connectivity across the Washington, D.C. campus. The university has been working to replace the existing Wi-Fi system since January of this year.
Georgetown's Chief Information Security Officer, Joseph Lee, also told The Hoya that University Information Services is working to combat various hacks, as well as educate campus community members about phishing attacks.
One potential avenue for raising campus awareness of hacking involves emailing UIS-made phishing schemes to student inboxes. Dubbed "Phish Me," the program is being developed in response to a rash of some 70 phishing attacks made on student NetIDs this past year.
“Our goal is to send attachments you shouldn’t open. If you fall for them then it’ll take you into an educational site," Lee said in a statement to The Hoya. "Some of these things are really sophisticated. They look just like something you might get from us. We’re trying to use social engineering to entice you to do what you’re not supposed to do.”
By Tom Stiles, Executive Director, Identification Systems Group
For students, a college dormitory is a home away from home. But for university housing departments, a residence hall or a collection of residence halls can be a management challenge equal to that of a small town. With thousands of students to serve each year, colleges are constantly scratching their heads as they look for ways to better manage these communities, including how to increase security while improving efficiency.
The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, regularly evaluates products and services that can better serve its growing student population. With 40% of the institution’s 20,000 students living in on-campus housing, the Housing IT Department has a big job. In 2009 the department invested in an electronic access control and visitor registration system from TotalCard that manages access rights and privileges at all 14 residence halls and two apartment complexes.
The TotalCard campus card system enables colleges and universities to identify, validate and track students and faculty members. Students can use their ID cards for a variety of things both on and off campus including making purchases, utilizing meal plans, attending events, accessing dorm rooms and other campus facilities, tracking attendance and more. The system’s modular design allows campuses to implement features and applications one at a time, in phases or all at once, depending on specific campus needs.
Prior to implementing the electronic access system, Ole Miss students gained access to their residence hall and room with a physical key. The biggest security risk was that there was no way to deactivate lost or stolen keys. Today, cards are immediately deactivated in the system as soon as they are reported missing.
When considering options for access control, the campus was concerned with cost and ease of installation. Wireless locks helped minimize installation and wiring costs, and enabled Ole Miss to deploy electronic access to each individual room in every residence hall. Each wireless lock is battery powered and system administrators receive notifications when batteries need to be changed.
At Ole Miss, ID cards are mailed to the student’s home address during the summer. This solved the issue of long lines at the campus card office on move in day, but added a challenge. There was no way of accounting for students as they moved in, thus creating inaccurate records.
The housing department approached TotalCard for help building a solution to ensure each student officially checks in, prior to accessing their room. The company facilitated integration between the access control system and StarRez, the housing management system used by Ole Miss. StarRez is a student housing solution that includes online housing applications, such as roommate and room self-selection. The Ole Miss integration enables room numbers and access privileges to be instantly assigned as students present their card during check-in at their residence hall.
“We manage all of our student room assignments in StarRez, so we knew an integration between the two systems would help to simplify the move in process,” explains Chris Thornton, systems administrator for student housing at Ole Miss. “To check in, students present their prox cards to a reader at the front desk of their residence hall, at which time their room assignment and access privileges are activated instantly in TotalCard. This is great for us because students get fast and easy access to their rooms and we get an electronic list of who has moved in and who has not.”
[pullquote]We knew an integration between our TotalCard access system and StarRez housing management system would streamline the move-in process[/pullquote]
The campus also benefits from use of TotalCard’s electronic visitor registration system at each residence hall. Students are asked to meet their guest in the lobby of their building, at which time both the student and guest present an ID and a record of the visit is logged. The system accepts both student ID cards and driver licenses for fast enrollment and electronic reporting, giving operators easy access to information about who is coming and going in each building.
The combination of electronic door access and visitor registration adds extra security to residence halls. By implementing a fully integrated card system, a housing department benefits from the features and functionality of multiple applications without the headache of managing each system individually.
The Identification Systems Group (ISG) – a network of 32 dealers that cover the US and Canada – offers the TotalCard system. These dealers are local systems integrators, providing high quality, cost effective solutions backed by the support and strength of our Professional Services Certification program.