When staring down the ongoing budget crisis, many IT departments in higher education have sought ways to reduce costs, but have often been stymied in the process. According to the 2010 EDUCAUSE study, Responding to Recession: IT Funding and Cost Management in Higher Education, the No. 1 barrier to reducing IT costs is the unacceptability of reducing service levels on campus (according to 49 percent of respondents).
Barriers to Reducing IT Costs
49.1% Unacceptability of reducing service levels
32.5% Resistance to change outside the IT organization
29.4% Lack of availability of upfront funding
19.6% Insufficient staff skills in central IT
19% Lack of executive sponsorship for change
12.8% Decentralized nature of IT management
16.6% Institutional budget policies
15.3% Collective bargaining agreements
11.7% Resistance to change within IT
Source: Responding to Recession: IT Funding and Cost Management in Higher Education, EDUCAUSE
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The rash of recent data breaches, such as the one reported by the University of Maine on June 29, shows that cybersecurity is an ongoing struggle for institutions. The National Cyber Security Alliance has developed a cybersecurity tip sheet for college administrators, which offers valuable tips for addressing unique college campus security concerns. Schools are advised to follow these suggestions, among others:
- Set policies on e-mail and network logons that require students to use long, complex passwords that they are prompted to update at least every 60 days.
- Include or update cybersecurity best practices in student handbooks and orientation materials.
- Create a plan to notify students, faculty and staff in the event of a data breach.
Source: National Cyber Security Alliance (staysafeonline.org)
Much Ado About Plagiarism
Plagiarism in higher education is a hotly debated topic. Students' familiarity and reliance on the Internet for research has led many to believe that Internet-based plagiarism is rampant, but is it really? Not according to “Rational Ignorance in Education: A Field Experiment in Student Plagiarism,” a study conducted by Thomas S. Dee and Brian A. Jacob for the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study reports that plagiarism occurred in 3.3 percent of the research papers examined in the study. The quick fix? A web-based tutorial on understanding and avoiding plagiarism reduced instances to 1.3 percent.
Source: “Rational Ignorance in Education: A Field Experiment in Student Plagiarism,” Thomas S. Dee and Brian A. Jacob
A (Not So Great) Need for Speed
The Federal Communications Commission report “Broadband Performance,” released in August, which was used to craft the National Broadband Plan, reveals some interesting information about the state of broadband in the United States. Among other things, the report notes that actual download-speed demands ranged from 0.5 to 7 megabits per second, and that 4Mbps is sufficient for 80 percent of users. The report also notes that usage is increasing with greater adoption of video and interactive applications.
Source: “Broadband Performance,” Federal Communications Commission