Survey: Ed-tech vision stunted by stagnant budgets

For the most part, college students today are digital natives who can easily pick up new technologies, but professional development is essential for faculty, Lausch said.

From a budgetary standpoint, it is also essential that schools find vendors that can make their vision happen in a cost-effective manner.

One way to maximize cost-efficiency is to go beyond ordinary vendor-customer relations and seek partnerships, said Chris Gonzalez, who handles procurement and sourcing for St. Edward’s University.

A school might merely buy and receive deliveries from a vendor—but with a partner, a school can develop a relationship over time and talk about priorities and challenges.

“Looking for the right partnership” is “not easy,” said Gonzalez, and requires schools to have “honest and open dialogue about what they’re trying to do.”

Lausch added that for technology providers to best serve their customers, it is important for schools to ensure that they have coherent internal communication across their departments and campuses. Vendors and schools work together best when the school has a clear vision of what it is trying to achieve, he said.

In addition to understanding the needs of IT staff, a vendor like CDW-G spends a great deal of time working with a school’s procurement staff to leverage resources and establish the most cost-effective solutions, Lausch said.

A growing trend among IT staff is to reduce the number of vendors they work with in order to procure products on a greater scale, with greater discounts, and colleges with smaller budgets will most likely increasingly leverage their smaller budgets to share resources, Lausch said.

Although CDW-G has previously researched “classrooms and campuses of the future,” the company administered this survey because “instead of just anecdotal evidence, we wanted to look at hard numbers,” said Lausch. “We cannot help our customers meet their needs if we don’t understand their needs.”

In terms of whether the survey results would change CDW-G’s offerings for higher education, Lausch said his company has already been preparing for this shift for years.

“The findings didn’t spark anything new, they actually just corroborated what we’ve already focused on,” he said.

“All of this does not start with technology and it clearly does not end with it—it’s about the students, staff, and faculty,” Lausch said. “We’re not just looking at technology. We’re looking at the learning model.”

eCampus News Staff

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