The 2016 Campus Computing Survey
The 2016 National Survey of eLearning and Information Technology in US Higher Education
KEY CAMPUS IT ISSUES
Personnel, Instruction, Budgets, Security, and Analytics
VIDEO: Campus Computing Session at the 2016 EDUCAUSE Conference
Casey Green (Campus Computing), Sharon Pitt (SUNY-Binghamton)
& David Smallen (Hamilton College)
(Video courtesy of Sonic Foundry)
The Compounding Consequences of Budget Cuts
Eight years after the beginning of the Great Recession, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of the CIOs and senior IT officers who participated in the 2016 survey report that IT funding at their campus “has not fully recovered from the budget cuts we have experienced over the past four-six years.” As shown below, almost a third of public universities and BA/MA institutions, a quarter of private BA/MA colleges, a fifth of private universities, and more than two-fifths of community colleges experienced IT budget cuts for the 2016-2017 academic year. Moreover, many campuses also suffered mid-year budget reductions for 2016/17, averaging 8 percent, which compounds the consequences of the annual budget cuts. Unfortunately, this has been the recurring cycle for a significant number of institutions across all sectors: an annual budget cut followed by a mid-year budget reduction.
results of the 2016 Campus Computing Survey.
(EDUCAUSE Conference Interview with Bryan Alexander, Future Trends Forum)
The 2016 survey data also highlight the role of student IT fees as a key source of funds for campus IT budgets. Across all sectors, the majority of institutions add the student IT fees to the core campus IT budget rather than sequester these funds for new, supplemental services and resources intended to serve students. Interestingly, although private institutions are less likely than public colleges and universities to have a student technology fee, the student fees are higher in private institutions.
“At one time many institutions used student IT fees to provide new, supplemental services rather than to supplant stressed, core campus IT budgets,” says Green. "The 2016 survey data reveal that student fees are now overwhelming used to replace funds lost due to continuing IT budget reductions."
Hiring and retaining IT personnel, one of the top five IT campus priorities in recent surveys, moved to the top priority in fall 2016. More than four-fifths (82 percent) of the survey participants identified “hiring/retaining qualified IT staff” as a “very important” campus IT priority over the next two-three years. Not surprisingly, a key factor affecting staffing is money: three-fourths (75 percent) of those surveyed agreed/strongly agreed that “we have a difficult time retaining IT talent because our salaries and benefits are not competitive with off-campus job opportunities.” The IT staffing problem can be particularly challenging in rural areas and small college towns, where the competition for a limited pool of IT talent may be intense and expensive.
In addition to IT staffing, the top five campus IT priorities for fall 2016 focus on instruction, IT security, user support services, and leveraging IT resources to advance the institutional priorities for student success and degree completion.
“Perhaps not surprisingly,” says Green, “the list of the top five IT priorities has been fairly stable for the past several years. Campus IT officers confront and must manage their budgets to accommodate rising, and at times competing, demands for a wide range and growing range of IT resources and services.”
“This strong statement of support for digital instructional resources, coupled with the concern for making better use of technology in instruction, is not surprising,” says Green. “CIOs and senior campus IT officers are, understandably, advocates for the instructional use of technology at their institutions. Although faculty make decisions about curricular resources for their courses, CIOs are responsible for the enabling infrastructure, including much of the student and faculty training and user support services.”
“The campus angst with analytics should not be surprising,” notes Green. “As with so many new technologies in the consumer, corporate, and campus sectors, the actual, implied, and inferred promises often fall short of initial performance.” Green notes the current disappointment with analytics on campus is not new. His 2011 and 2012 surveys of college presidents, chief academic officers, and CIOs all indicated that these senior campus officials did not view the investment in analytics as “very effective.”
“The effective use of analytics involves more than deploying a new technology. While good analytic tools are, of course, important, so too is user training. Campus officials and faculty who are eager for just-in-time, complex analyses of student performance really do need effective training woth these new resources to understand both the potential and also the limits of the data and these analytic tools.” Green also notes that the effective use of analytics many require a major change in culture at many institutions, a transition from using data as a weapon to using data and analytics as a resource: “The key question should be not what did we do wrong, but how can we do better, and how do the data and analytic tools show us the path to better for our students.”
IT security remains a continuing challenge across all sectors of American higher education. In aggregate, more two-fifths of the institutions participating the survey experienced the loss of confidential data due to the theft of a device and hacks or attacks on campus networks in A/Y 2015/16. Universities, in particular, appear to be attractive targets. A fourth of the surveyed campuses had experience with either spyware or ransomware this past year experience and also with a student security incident such as cyber-bullying via social media. Security problems caused by employee malfeasance, often a reflection of stress, anger, or over-worked IT staff, were also problems for many institutions, especially universities.
|CampusComputing2016-EDUCAUSE Presentation.pdf||2.84 MB|