“As was the case last fall, the new survey data provide a only modicum of good news about IT budgets. Yes, fewer institutions experienced budget reductions this year than last,” said Green. “But the budget cuts continue for many institutions, and the proportion of public campuses experiencing IT budget reductions remains high. The consequences are particularly daunting for community colleges, where enrollments are exploding while the financial resources for IT services to support online and on-campus courses are eroding.”

Other survey results

The survey also documents an increasingly competitive market for LMS software on campus. The percentage of respondents using various versions of Blackboard (including Angel and WebCT) as their standard LMS software fell to 51 percent in 2011, compared to 57 percent last year and 71 percent in 2006.

As Blackboard’s market share has fallen, its chief LMS competitors—Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai—have all gained market share during this period. Meanwhile, several new LMS providers, including Epsilen, Instructure, and Loudcloud, among others, are generating significant interest as well.

“The campus LMS market remains a textbook example of a mature market with immature, or evolving, technologies, and that’s a prescription for a volatile market,” said Green. “Blackboard’s plans to retire legacy LMS products have been a catalyst for many institutions to review their campus LMS strategy and to evaluate other LMS applications.”

Higher-education technology leaders remain bullish on the future of eBooks. Ninety percent said they agree or strongly agree that “eBook content will be an important source for instructional resources in five years,” up from 87 percent in 2010 and 76 percent in 2009. Additionally, more than four-fifths (82 percent, up from 79 percent in 2010 and 66 percent in 2009) agree or strongly agree that “eBook readers … will be important platforms for instructional content in five years.”

“The platform options, market opportunities, and enabling technologies for eBooks continue to improve,” said Green. But he noted that for most students, eBooks do not yet offer a competitive alternative to used textbooks. He cited a recent survey by Student Monitor in which a fifth of undergraduates opted for a used book priced the same as a new textbook, a rented textbook, or a digital textbook—suggesting that many students see added value in a textbook that other students have already highlighted and annotated.


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