The pandemic pushed higher education institutions into an edtech spending spree--the challenge now is to revisit and reassess those investments for tool sprawl

3 ways higher-ed IT teams can combat tool sprawl


The pandemic pushed higher education institutions into an edtech spending spree--the challenge now is to revisit and reassess those investments for tool sprawl

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that a pandemic is the mother of invention. This is nowhere more evident than in higher education. To ensure the seamless delivery of quality learning, colleges and universities have rushed to add or upgrade their IT, edtech, and monitoring tools.

But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Too many tools—many of them operating in silos—can be cumbersome for students and educators to use and time-consuming for IT teams to support. They also waste funds, introduce overlap and inefficiencies, and can negatively impact system effectiveness and–perhaps most importantly–the user experience.

As higher education institutions forge ahead with their digital transformation initiatives, continued tool sprawl seems inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are three things IT pros and business leaders must consider before falling into the trap of adding more applications or monitoring components to their IT systems.

1. Be strategic about commissioning new applications

Colleges and universities depend on edtech solutions for classroom instruction, distance learning, back-office operations, and more. Given the shifting dynamics of the past two years, it can be tempting to invest in the latest shiny new solution. But instead of rushing to commission more apps, institutions must first determine how educators and students use these tools and if they’re having an impact on outcomes.

The best way to do this is to conduct periodic assessments of the application environment and ask a few basic questions. How critical is the application to daily operations? Does it align with the school’s mission? What data does it house? Does the data flow between systems? Is there tool overlap? Is it maintenance-intensive?

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