Monday, August 3, 2009

IT priorities

Web 2.0 technologies are challenging the role of the central IT department. Traditionally IT have managed the university's IT infrastructure and campus licences for commercial learning management systems, Microsoft Office, finance and personnel systems etc. They've ensured security and protected the rest of us from mountains of spam, trojans and other threats.

However, this central role is being undermined since increasing numbers of staff and students are using non-approved social networking services and storing learning resources on external servers (ie Google Docs, Flickr, YouTube etc). How do we ensure security and interoperability as well as encouraging innovation and open participation?

These are the themes taken up in Educause's newly released edition of their annual survey, Top-Ten IT issues 2009. The top ten issues can be summarised as

1. Funding IT
With budgets being cut IT-spending comes under scrutiny. How can IT work with faculty to provide solutions that are effective and help to save money? Can more services be virtualized by using web-based solutions?

2. Administrative/ERP Information Systems
These systems, essential for admissions management, records etc, are becoming increasingly complex and harder to manage. Are there advantages in using open-source systems or can they be outsourced?

3. Security
Does the university have a clear security policy? Are all staff fully aware of security issues? What are the risks of using social networks in communication with students?

4. Infrastructure/Cyberinfrastructure
The university does not need to host everything today. Outsourced e-mail (eg Google mail) and open source LMS (Moodle, Sakai) are becoming more popular. What are the implications of this trend for authentication?

5. Teaching and Learning with Technology
More and more learning is taking place outside the classroom and with an inceasing diversity of tools. IT staff must be more closely involved in faculty development.

6. Identity/Access Management
How strictly should access to university systems be monitored. What should be private and what should be public?

7. Governance, Organization, and Leadership
The role of IT leaders in the management of the university.

8. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity
Does the university have a clear plan on how to deal with emergencies, including serious IT outages.

9. Agility, Adaptability, and Responsiveness
Are IT leaders driving change in the organisation and are they helping the organisation to deal with change in a strategic way?

10. Learning Management Systems
The LMS has become a vital part of a university's infrastructure. Should it be proprietary or open source? How can we integrate social networking into the LMS?

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