Data Shows Widening Gap in Technology Adoption Among Colleges and Universities

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EDUCAUSE Research Finds IT’s Role in Higher Education Has Reached a Critical Point

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Today EDUCAUSE, higher education’s largest technology association, announced the release of its annual list of top 10 IT issues for 2015, narrowing in on an inflection point for change in higher education and noting the increasing importance of technology on campus an inflection point for change in higher education, and noting the increasing importance of technology in addressing business operations and improving student outcomes. Later this month, EDUCAUSE will also publish the annual top 10 strategic technologies report, which identifies relatively new technologies that institutions will be spending the most time implementing, planning, and tracking in 2015.

EDUCAUSE research shows that in 2015, colleges and universities will need to evolve to address very real challenges of IT security, cost, and productivity, as well as providing user support for the “new normal” that covers mobile, cloud, online education, and BYOD environments.

“The pace of change for higher education information technology is increasing – not slowing – and on many fronts. Trends that have previously dominated thought leadership and motivated early adopters are now cascading into the mainstream,” said Susan Grajek, vice president of data, research, and analytics at EDUCAUSE.

“What is concerning is that we are seeing the gap widening between the forward-thinking early adopters and the growing number of institutions that cannot keep up with the pace of change. More and more institutions are falling behind when it comes to implementing and leveraging technology to solve large-scale problems and address strategic issues, like using cloud technologies to standardize business processes on campus and analytics to predict and address student outcomes.”

EDUCAUSE 2015 research – including the top 10 IT Issues report (published today) and the top 10 strategic technologies report (to be published later this month) – is used by higher education leaders and decision makers to anticipate and articulate challenges and inform their actions and decisions to address them.

The list of top IT issues is developed by a panel of experts comprised of IT and non-IT leaders, CIOs, and faculty members and then voted on by the EDUCAUSE community. The top 10 strategic technologies were selected from the analysis of a vetted set of 107 technologies presented to EDUCAUSE members in a survey in summer 2014.

The research finds that IT leaders and professionals are particularly interested in whether and when to invest in these still-maturing technologies. Only four of the 107 technologies in the report are currently in place in more than 30% of institutions and for each of the top 10 strategic technologies, only one-third to half of institutions intend to plan or implement them in 2015.

Technologies that are particularly relevant this year include cloud computing and mobile, which influence many of the top 10 IT issues as they relate to the IT organization, funding models, user support, security, architecture, and IT staffing. Mobile dominates the top 10 strategic technologies, with 7 of the 10 directly (e.g., mobile apps for teaching and learning) or indirectly (e.g., unified communications and collaboration) related to mobile computing. Bring-your-own device (BYOD), digitization, and associated technologies and opportunities are changing the nature of user support. The dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of technology creates a challenge for institutions to establish information security policies that protect the institution while still allowing for the exploration of new and emerging technologies.

An issue that has made the Top 10 Issues list year after year is IT funding, and this year is no exception. In 2015, institutions will need to demonstrate the business value of technology and how it helps meet overall institutional goals as well as develop funding models that sustain core service, support innovation, and facilitate growth. Effective communication across the institution will also be key in 2015. Members of the EDUCAUSE IT Issues Panel report that many institutional leaders believe that technology solutions are both easier and less expensive than they actually are.

“Institutions are reassessing their choices in light of budget constraints, security challenges, opportunities provided by new technologies, and the desire to apply analytics techniques to data housed across disparate systems,” said Grajek. “The efforts of higher education institutions to centralize and standardize without impeding innovation or academic autonomy are playing out at least loosely in almost every one of the 2015 EDUCAUSE top 10 IT issues. Today, it’s not just about addressing issues in the present, but also for the future – and ensuring actions and solutions are integrated and aligned with larger institutional strategy.”

The top 10 IT issues report and accompanying resources are available at http://www.educause.edu/itissues. More information on the upcoming top 10 strategic technologies report is available at http://www.educause.edu/ecar. For more information about EDUCAUSE, please visit http://www.educause.edu.

About EDUCAUSE
EDUCAUSE is a higher education technology association. The organization has an estimated 60,000 active members in over 40 countries. The EDUCAUSE annual conference is considered one of the best technology conferences in higher education. EDUCAUSE holds over 20 face-to-face events each year that reach approximately 11,500 individuals, with thousands more involved in online events. The association produces various publications for its members including the award-winning EDUCAUSE Review, with a bimonthly print circulation of 22,000 and online unique monthly views of 100,000.

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Anne Jenkins
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Ron Zwerin
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