Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top IT issues

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What's the trend of the year in educational technology? Most people would immediately shout out MOOCs (as I predicted way back in January, 2012 - the year of the MOOC) but according to an Educause survey, Top-10 IT issues 2012,  the most important concerns are not whether to join the MOOC movement but the fundamental issue of how to integrate IT into all of the university's activities and develop more mature strategies for the use of technology.

The survey asked a panel of higher education IT experts what the biggest single IT-realted issue facing their institution had been in 2012. Here's their top ten:
  1. Updating IT professionals' skills and roles to accommodate new technologies and changing IT delivery models
  2. Supporting IT consumerization and bring-your-own device programs
  3. Developing a cloud strategy
  4. Improving the institution's operational efficiency through IT
  5. Integrating IT into institutional decision-making
  6. Using analytics to support the important institutional outcomes
  7. Funding IT initiatives
  8. Transforming the institution's business with IT
  9. Supporting research with high-performance computing, large data, and analytics
  10. Establishing and implementing IT governance throughout the institution
Source: "Educause Top-Ten IT Issues 2012" from Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR)

The common thread here is the need to integrate technology use into all areas of the university from the management down and to ensure that staff have the right competence to deal with this change. IT is no longer simply a technology issue and is no longer limited to the IT department; it supports all processes and affects every member of staff. Educational technology is moving from a marginal pioneer movement of enthusiasts to mainstream and default. Institutional strategies are now needed where before there were simply uncoordinated grassroots initiatives. The tools and software that were once provided in-house are now freely available in the cloud and at the same time the carefully controlled infrastructure of university owned computer labs is being replaced by students using their own devices and expecting access anywhere any time.

The challenges facing the role of IT in higher education are finding strategies of benefitting from the diversity and freedom of cloud-based solutions and personal devices while maintaining some level of control and security. The survey highlight above all else the rapidly changing role of the university IT department.

"This year's list transcends the IT org chart with two predominant themes: the IT organization's obligation to the institution; and the IT organization's relationship to technology outside the institution. The former views the IT organization as an enabler and partner in helping colleges and universities adapt to and even capitalize on changing realities and needs via automation (Issue #4), analytics (Issue #6), business transformation (Issue #8), and research computing (Issue #9). It also recognizes that the IT organization's relationship with institutional leaders must be effective for it to truly support institutional priorities, by integrating information technology into institutional decision-making (Issue #5), funding information technology strategically (Issue #7), and establishing and implementing IT governance throughout the institution (Issue #10)."

Read more in an article in Campus TechnologyReflecting on the Top IT Issues of 2012

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