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Campus Computing Project takes pulse of higher ed IT

Higher education migrating slowly to cloud computing
University Business, December 2015
Helping faculty adopt instructional technology is a top IT priority in higher ed.
Helping faculty adopt instructional technology is a top IT priority in higher ed.

Although it has been a boon to commercial services such as Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and others, cloud computing hasn’t completely caught on in higher education. That’s according to the 2015 “Campus Computing Project” report, released in October at the Educause conference in Indianapolis.

The migration to the cloud among higher education and government institutions has been slow, with survey participants citing security concerns as the chief roadblock.

Nearly a third of the participants say cloud computing is “no more secure than their own, on-campus management of technology and data. And less than a fifth of institutions expect to be running mission-critical finance and student information systems on the cloud by fall 2020.”

The survey also shows that 22 percent of respondents say they do not have a strategic plan for network and data security, and 32 percent report they do not have a strategic plan for IT disaster recovery.

Still, non-mission critical cloud use is seeing some growth in higher education. The number of schools reporting a strategic plan for cloud computing rose to 33 percent in fall 2015, continuing a steady increase over recent years (29 percent last year, 21 percent in 2011, and 9 percent in 2009).

Twelve percent of the survey participants report their campus has moved or is converting to cloud computing for administrative services, compared to 9 percent last year.

Other highlights

The study also points to an encouraging rise in institutional support for free, open educational resources (OER) in teaching and learning.

“The emerging OER movement may offer a viable alternative to commercial textbooks and course content,” says Campus Computing Project founder Kenneth C. Green. But, while free or low-cost publications are attractive, quality control in the form of editors and fact checkers is often lacking, he says.

Another technology still trying to find its place in higher education is MOOCs, which registered big declines in support this year. The problem is not their efficacy in teaching but finding a viable revenue model to make them worth the effort. Four-fifths of CIOs are uncertain about that revenue model, according to the survey.

Nearly all survey participants (96 percent) said that “adaptive learning technology has great potential to improve learning outcomes for students.” And, as it does every year, The Campus Computing Project asks CIOs about their most pressing issues.

This year, 74 percent of the participants said they had difficulty retaining IT talent because salaries and benefits are not competitive with off-campus job opportunities.

Now in its 25th year, The Campus Computing Project is the largest continuing study of e-learning and information technology in U.S. higher education. This year 417 schools participated in the survey, including both public and private research institutions, four-year institutions and community colleges.

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