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Top 10 Priorities Driving Campus IT in 2014

The latest Campus Computing Project survey highlights the challenges facing higher education IT.

The annual Campus Computing Survey takes the pulse of IT professionals to see where the industry is headed, and this year’s results are filled with information on higher education’s trends and challenges.

The report on the 2014 survey from the Campus Computing Project, founded and directed by Kenneth C. Green, gathers input from representatives of 470 colleges and universities. Among the details disclosed in the report is a list of the top issues overall that surveyed IT professionals deem priorities.

Top Campus IT Priorities of 2014

  1. Assisting faculty to integrate IT into the institution (81 percent)
  2. Hiring and retaining qualified IT staff (76 percent)
  3. Providing adequate user support/Leveraging IT for student success efforts (tied, 74 percent)
  4. Implementing and supporting mobile computing/Upgrading IT security (tied, 69 percent)
  5. Supporting online education (66 percent)
  6. Data analysis and managerial analytics (55 percent)
  7. Professional development for IT personnel (54 percent)
  8. IT business continuity and disaster planning (53 percent)
  9. Financing the replacement of aging IT (51 percent)
  10. Supporting bring-your-own-device efforts (48 percent)

This year’s top priorities are similar to those from 2013's survey. One notable difference is a 5 percent jump in those who cited IT security, moving it from seventh place last year into a tie for fifth. The increased focus on security in higher education could indicate that campus IT leaders are turning their attentions to overcoming a stumbling block for the industry. Technology analysis company IDG Connect noted in its State of IT Cyber Defense Maturity Report, released in July, that education IT leaders had low confidence in their security measures.

'The Challenge Is the Implementation'

One of the lessons Green has learned from conducting these surveys, he tells EdTech, is that "technology is the easy part. The challenge is the implementation." Campus IT professionals are obligated to create effective infrastructure for students, faculty and administrators, the 2014 survey report states. Green's lesson could speak to a recurring weakness in long-range planning for campus IT security. In this year's survey, 32 percent of respondents said they did not have a strategic plan for IT disaster recovery, down 1 percentage point from 2013. Security fears have also kept some higher education institutions from taking a leap into the cloud, Green writes.

Fewer than 10 percent of respondents said they would entrust their "high value" applications, such as finance or student information systems, to a cloud environment. However, 47 percent said they use the cloud for learning management systems.

Poor user support also has many IT professionals concerned about the future, and it's going to continue to be a problem, Green says. Only 10 percent of respondents rated their student training services as "excellent."

The 2014 survey also reveals a sea change for one of last year's most talked-about movements in higher education. The percentage of campus IT professionals considering massive open online courses (MOOCs) as viable for instruction dropped 15 percentage points in this year's survey, which Green says is the realization of a phenomenon known as the Gartner Hype Cycle.

"More than 80 percent of CIOs are uncertain about the revenue mode," the report says of MOOCs.

EDUCAUSE released its top 10 priorities for higher education IT at the organization’s annual conference in October. They differ from the Campus Computing Survey’s in many respects, but assisting faculty with integrating IT with instruction is a top issue on both lists.

The full 2014 Campus Computing Survey will be available for download Dec. 1.

Nov 14 2014