2013 Campus Computing Project survey reveals shifting higher-education technology needs, priorities

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The technology itself is “the easy part” of campus IT leaders’ jobs, Green said.

The top challenges facing campus technology leaders today “are no longer about IT,” Casey Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project, told attendees of the 2013 EDUCAUSE conference in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 17.

Instead, the top challenges for campus technology leaders include supporting faculty and students, and communicating technology’s effectiveness to presidents and provosts.

The technology itself is “the easy part” of campus IT leaders’ jobs, Green said. He added: “Technology is almost linear by comparison” to all of the other demands that campus IT leaders face, such as managing people, policies, priorities, and egos.

Green was speaking at a session in which he unveiled the 2013 results from his annual survey of higher-education technology leaders.

According to this year’s survey, helping faculty integrate technology into instruction was the top campus IT priority for the next two to three years, followed by hiring and retaining qualified IT staff, providing adequate user support, and leveraging IT for student success.

These priorities are largely service-based tasks, Green noted. Actual IT tasks appeared lower on the list of priorities for campus technology chiefs: upgrading the campus network ranked 11th, migrating systems to the cloud ranked 13th, and replacing or upgrading ERP systems ranked 15th.

(Next page: Rating the effectiveness of campus technology investments)

When asked to rate the effectiveness of their IT investments, campus technology leaders gave the highest marks to their administrative information systems, library resources, and on-campus teaching and instruction.

Fewer than 30 percent of respondents rated their investment in alumni engagement, research and scholarship, and data analytics initiatives as “very effective.”

“We’re doing OK; we’re not doing great,” Green said.

What’s more, there appears to be a disconnect between how presidents and provosts view the effectiveness of their campus technology initiatives and how IT leaders view these.

Green showed a slide that compared the responses of presidents and provosts from separate, earlier surveys to those of CIOs from the Campus Computing Project survey. While more than 60 percent of CIOs characterized their investment in administrative information systems as “very effective,” fewer than 40 percent of presidents or provosts did. About 55 percent of CIOs said their investment in on-campus instruction was very effective, while just over 40 percent of presidents said the same thing.

“My take on this,” Green said, “is that [campus technology leaders] have not done a good job of communicating the effectiveness of their IT initiatives” to other campus leaders. He said communication needs to be a higher priority for campus IT chiefs.

Other notable findings from the survey include…

• The percentage of public and private universities and of public four-year colleges reporting cuts to their IT budgets declined significantly from 2012. However, a slightly higher percentage of private four-year colleges and community colleges reported cuts to their IT budgets in 2013.

• The organizational structures of many campus IT departments are in transition. Thirty-six percent of institutions have reorganized their academic computing units in the past two years, and 29 percent expect to restructure their academic computing units the next two years.

• Barely half of campus IT leaders think massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer a viable model for effectively delivering online instruction. Fewer than a third believe MOOCs offer a viable business model for campuses to realize new revenues.

The findings from the 2013 Campus Computing Project are based on an online survey of IT leaders from more than 450 institutions from Sept. 6 to Oct. 9. About 80 percent of this year’s respondents also took part in last year’s survey.


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