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Nov 08 2012

EDUCAUSE 2012: Which IT Investments Are Deemed Most Effective and Highest Priority?

The 2012 Campus Computing Survey shows mixed reviews about which technologies are most important to an institution’s success.

Kenneth C. Green has been considering the question of campus IT investments and their perceived effectiveness for the past 18 months — first, for surveys of college and university presidents and provosts/chief academic officers conducted on behalf of Inside Higher Ed and, more recently, for the annual survey he spearheads for The Campus Computing Project, the largest continuing study of the role of computing and information technology in U.S. higher education.

What he’s learned boils down to this: CIOs are more likely than presidents and provosts/chief academic officers to characterize institutional investments in on-campus instruction and administrative information systems as “very effective,” but less likely to describe data analytics investments as such (see below).

IT Investments Deemed “Very Effective”

  On-Campus Instruction Administrative Information Systems Data Analytics
CIOs 55.2% 61.5% 22.7%
Presidents 42.1% 39% 37.7%
Provosts/Chief Academic Officers 50% 33.4% 28.6%

SOURCES: 2012 Campus Computing Survey (The Campus Computing Project, September–October 2012), 2011 Presidential Perspectives Survey (Inside Higher Ed, March 2011) and 2012 Survey of Chief Academic Officers (Inside Higher Ed, January 2012)

According to Green, the project’s founding director, the gaps might be attributed to a variety of factors, such as unfulfilled expectations or a feeling that “both technology advocates and providers have overpromised and under-delivered.” In other instances, he adds, “it may well be that institutional IT officers have failed to communicate the effectiveness of IT investments at their campuses.”

Green presented these and other findings from the 2012 Campus Computing Survey of CIOs, chief technology officers and other senior officials at public and private universities, public and private four-year colleges, and community colleges in a Wednesday afternoon session at EDUCAUSE. Nearly 550 respondents completed the survey online between Sept. 20 and Oct. 26. Questions covered a wide range of topics, among them institutional IT priorities, mobile and cloud adoption, the lingering effects of budget cuts, security, institutional use of social and other media, and even massive open online courses.

Quick Hits

More Mobile: Across all sectors of higher education, institutions are continuing to embrace mobility. Roughly 60 percent of the campuses that participated in this year’s survey have already activated mobile apps (or will do so in the coming academic year), up from 41.5 percent in 2011 and 21.1 percent in 2010. Public universities are leading the mobility charge, with 77.8 percent of them already running or developing mobile apps in fall 2012; 67.5 percent of private universities are in the same position.

Cloud Adoption Still Proceeding Slowly: Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of survey participants now have a strategic plan for cloud computing, up from 21 percent in 2011 and 15 percent in 2010. Institutions that have taken the plunge are migrating to the cloud functions such as calendars and learning management systems in far greater numbers (nearly 40 percent in both cases) than those that are relying on the cloud for storage, archiving or business continuity services (just 9.8 percent).

“Trust really is the coin of the realm,” Green says. “Many campus IT officers are not ready to migrate mission-critical data, resources and services to the cloud services offered by their IT providers.”

What Matters Most: In 2000, nearly 41 percent of survey respondents said that helping faculty integrate IT into instruction was the most important IT issue they faced. In 2012, it’s once again a top priority, with 74 percent indicating that curriculum integration would be among their highest priorities over the next two to three years. Providing adequate user support (70 percent), hiring/retaining qualified IT staff (69 percent), providing online education (61 percent) and implementing/supporting mobile computing (61 percent) also ranked highly.

The Scoop on MOOCs: A bare majority (just over 50 percent) of CIOs consider massive open online courses to be a viable model for effectively delivering instruction online. (Respondents from private institutions were most enthusiastic about the emerging instructional methodology.) At the same time, more than two-thirds of them were uncertain about MOOCs’ revenue model over the long term.

To learn more about the Campus Computing Survey, visit

For more EDUCAUSE 2012 coverage, visit our EDUCAUSE 2012 page.

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