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Five Key Trends in Campus Technology

Helping faculty integrate ed tech into their instruction is still a key pain point for campus technology leaders, according to the 2014 Campus Computing Survey, the largest ongoing study of IT planning and policy issues in American higher education.

Four decades into the higher-education technology revolution, the survey found that although campus technology leaders say user IT support is one of their top institutional priorities, many still struggle to provide adequate IT training and support for their students and faculty.

The survey also reveals a serious challenge in providing digital resources for disabled students, major concerns about IT security in the cloud, and a decline in support for Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.

CIOs and other ed-tech leaders from 470 colleges and universities responded to the 2014 survey. While four-fifths of respondents said helping faculty with ed-tech integration is an important institutional priority over the next two to three years, only 28% of campus technology leaders rate their faculty ed-tech training as “excellent”—and just 13% rate their technology training for students as “excellent.”

The findings help explain the frustration that many faculty experience in their efforts to use technology effectively during instruction, said Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project, in a press release.

The struggle to support students and faculty effectively was one of five key campus technology trends revealed in the survey’s findings. Here are four others:

Giving disabled students equitable access to ed-tech resources is a big challenge for colleges.

Fewer than half (47%) of respondents said they have a strategic plan for IT compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates—and fewer than one-fifth (19%) rated their IT services for disabled students as “excellent.”

‘MOOC Madness’ seems to be on the decline.

Only 38% of respondents agreed that “MOOCs offer a viable model for the effective delivery of online instruction,” down from 53% last year. Meanwhile, expectations for making money on MOOCs also declined: Just 19% of campus technology leaders agreed that MOOCS “offer a viable model for campuses to realize new revenues,” down from 29% last year.

Colleges and universities are continuing to ‘go mobile.’

Continuing a steady climb in recent years, 83% of institutions have activated mobile apps or will do so this academic year. That’s up from 78% last year, 60% in fall 2012, 42% in fall 2011, and 23% in fall 2010. Across sectors, public universities lead the movement: 99% will have a mobile app by the end of the current academic year, followed by 95% of private universities, 92% of public four-year colleges, 77% of community colleges, and 73% of private four-year colleges.

“Colleges and universities are clearly playing catch-up with the consumer experience,” said Green in explaining this trend. “Students come to campus with their smart phones and tablets expecting to use mobile apps to navigate campus resources and use campus services.”

Campus technology leaders report that tablets and smart phones have higher priority in their IT planning activities: 83% say tablet devices and 82% say smart phones will be “very important” in their planning over the next two to three years, compared to just 64% who say laptop computers will be very important.

Concerns about the security of cloud-based services linger.

While the percentage of campuses reporting a strategic plan for cloud computing rose to 29%—up from 27% last year—33% of respondents don’t believe cloud services are as secure as what they can provide themselves on campus.And though nearly half (47%) of respondents said they now operate their learning management system in the cloud, fewer than 10% believe their institution will be running a “high value” application such as a finance or student information system in the cloud within five years.

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