One of the most popular sessions at EDUCAUSE 2013 was Campus Computing 2013: The National Survey of E-Learning and Information Technology in American Higher Education. Several hundred IT managers attended locally, joined by hundreds more watching online as Casey Green presented the results of the just-completed Campus Computing Survey. Managed by the Campus Computing Project, the annual survey is now in its 24th iteration.
According to the CIOs and CTOs representing 451 participating colleges and universities across the US, the top priority of campus IT in 2013 is to integrate technology into campus-based and online instruction. This need was expressed by 4/5 of those surveyed. Overall, the results of the survey indicate a growing shift from providing technology to providing more services by the campus IT function.
Campus Technology Trends
Tablets and smart phone have now surpassed laptops as the most numerous personal devices on campus. Smart phones are used by 60% of students and 25% have tablets. To keep up, 79% of campuses have activated mobile apps, a significant increase over last year. Private universities lead this charge with 95% providing mobile apps.
The growing use of video has put a major stress on infrastructure in terms of providing sufficient bandwidth. The increasing video content also means that content management systems must now accommodate video.
Transition to the Cloud
The movement cloud-based data storage and computing has been coming to campuses in stages. Student email and calendar were the “low cloud” and this migration is complete. ERP, Workday, and HRM applications have been transitioning more slowly. The survey reports that the proportion of campuses with a strategic plan for cloud computing is only up to 27%, from 24% last year.
A number of IT hot button issues surfaced in the report. Bullying and social network-related incidents are a growing concern. What really keeps the CIO awake at night, though, are security threats. Many in the audience had already encountered breaches on servers that are not managed by the central services, The existence of rogue IT servers and access points, Green says, is due to “petulant adolescent behavior” by renegades among the faculty.
Campus IT Budget Trends
On the budget front, the good news is that budget cuts are declining, although public and community colleges are not faring as well as private institutions in this regard. A show of hands among the in-person audience showed that only about 15% had experienced budget cuts this year. A very few responded that they had had budget increases.
It had to be noted that there has been no corresponding reduction in demand for IT during the downturn. In fact, demand has been dramatically up for wireless, ERP, cloud, and security. One way that funding have been made available for these high-demand areas, has been to stretch out the replacement of technology in computer labs.
About half of the survey participants think that MOOCs are an important platform of the future, a statistic not reflected among the audience, which was more skeptical. Not surprisingly, since the MOOCs themselves are free, few think they will become a viable business model. The somewhat discouraging statistic with MOOCs is that the student completion rate is only 7.5% (March 2013 survey by the Chronicle of Higher Ed of 103 MOOC instructors). For more on MOOC discussions at EDUCAUSE see The View from EDUCAUSE 2013: MOOCs Are Here To Stay.
Somewhat surprisingly, CIOs don’t perceive that the level of IT effectiveness is yet very high. According to the survey, CIOs feel most confident about the effectiveness of library resources (67%) and admin info systems and operations (65%), but less confident in the effectiveness of investments in online courses (42%) and data analysis and managerial analytics (25%).
The sentiment is that “technology is the easy part” of IT. The people planning, policy, programs, and prioritizing aspects are the challenges. IT is being asked by their constituencies about the how: how do we implement flipped classroom, for example, or how do we structure our online courses, and what are the benefits?
This represents another progression in the role of campus IT. In 1986, the question was “How do use computers?” In 1996, it was “How do we use the Internet?” Now in 2013, the question has expanded to “How do we use digital resources?” A recurring lament at Educause was that members of the faculty need much more evidence of benefit than most user groups. The CIOs are asking for help from department heads.
A growing pressure is definitely being felt by the CIOs who attended Educause. Even in the midst of falling budgets, university administration is looking for a productivity “bang”. The consumer experience has set high expectations on IT. Added to this now is the request that IT help faculty integrate technology into teaching and further help the school administration make better us of IT in operations and management. The full session on the 2013 Campus Computing Survey was recorded and can be viewed online.
For more on EDUCAUSE 2013 see Ken Robinson to Educators: You *can* teach creativity, and you must and The View from EDUCAUSE 2013: MOOCs Are Here To Stay.
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