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Box Ramps Up Reach into Higher Ed

Several institutions have signed on as new customers for Box, which provides content collaboration through cloud storage. Dartmouth College, Utah State, the University of Chicago and Loyola Marymount are taking advantage of the company's recent offer of unlimited storage for schools when they sign up under a program managed through Internet2's NET+ initiative.

Box has long provided its storage and collaboration service to colleges and universities under an education discount, allowing them to provide faculty, staff and students with the ability to access, store and share content through on any kind of computing device. Internet2 members have received an additional discount of about 10 percent. In July the company enhanced the service by lifting storage caps, providing unlimited storage to all participating campuses for the same base price.

Box has also announced an "education bundle" that provides templates for workflows, folder structures and security models to be used by educational organizations. Box for Education is intended to help departments that adopt the service to speed up their collaborative processes, explained Whitney Bouck, general manager of enterprise at the company. "Educational institutions understand that the cloud offers innovative ways to increase collaboration throughout their community, modernize teaching and ultimately cuts down on IT costs," she said in a prepared statement. The new offerings, she noted, are intended to help users "create learning materials, share research, manage classrooms and communicate in a secure environment."

In an interview Bouck said the lowest annual price starts at $9,000 for a campus, which covers about 1,500 users. She estimated that an institution with about 200,000 users would pay about $370,000 annually, about $1.85 per user per year.

Utah State, with nearly 28,000 students and 2,400 staff and faculty members, replaced its local file shares with Box, granting students 50 gigabytes of capacity and faculty and staff 100 GB. "Our IT group is focused on improving teaching, learning, research and university operations with technologies that enable better cross-functional collaboration, workflow and communication," said Eric Hawley, associate vice president for IT and CIO. "With Box, we were able to bring a secure collaboration tool to our community and empower them with seamless access to their most important information, increasing the level of remote collaboration, participation and teamwork."

The company has expanded its institutional reach into other parts of the world through new agreements with research and education networks, GÉANT in Europe and AARNet in Australia.

Box also reaffirmed new integrations with technology from Google and Blackboard. Last April Box released Box for Chrome OS, which provides users with the ability to bypass the browser on a Chromebook and access Box files directly from the Chrome OS File Manager. The integration with Blackboard uses the Box View application programming interface (API) to allow Blackboard users to present Box-stored content in the Web browser or on a mobile device through Blackboard Collaborate without having to download or install a plug-in or other utility.

The company said in early September it would be releasing new granular controls for Box Groups to help administrators better control access to sensitive information. This tool allows users to set up teams of Box users to give them access to the same content for collaboration.

Other tools for the software include Box Notes, Box Governance & Compliance and Box Enterprise Key Management. Notes, introduced in 2014, offers a way for users to work together in real time on documents. Add-on service Governance gives storage administrators a way to manage security and the compliance lifecycle of content for the purposes of e-discovery and regulatory policies. Enterprise Key Management builds on encryption and security functionality built in the product to give IT additional controls.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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