Appendix B: Trends
Below are summaries of IT issues and trends from two respected higher education technology communities—Educause and the New Media Consortium—that address the most significant challenges facing higher education.
Educause top 10 IT issues
Educause is a nonprofit association that supports professional development, applied research, strategic policy advocacy, teaching and learning initiatives and more. The association publishes an annual list of the top 10 IT issues based on a survey of IT leaders. Here are results from the 2011 survey with supporting comments.
- Funding IT: “The focus in the past has largely been on securing a stable and predictable level of funding. Although that remains a critical need, the IT leader now also needs to factor in the perspective of the campus community members and to show them the value of existing services and investments as well as the true cost of future decisions.”
- Administrative/ERP/Information Systems: “Is the time right to disaggregate the monolithic ERP system and use best-of-breed solutions, especially those that may be offered in the "cloud" as Software as a Service (SaaS)? Is it time to change the focus from desktop access for administrative information to access via the ever-growing types of mobile devices?”
- Teaching and Learning with Technology: “The perspective needs to encompass not only classroom technologies but also the ubiquitous use of instructional technologies to support the educational mission of the institution overall.”
- Security: “Security poses a dualistic need for perspective. On the one hand, higher education institutions are increasingly seeking and securing cloud-based services to meet campus needs. On the other hand, the institutions are themselves cloud-based service providers—to the members of their own communities. This "man-in-the-middle" position requires IT leaders to understand the needs, the perspectives, of both consumers and providers.”
- Mobile Technologies: “Mobile Technologies is the number one issue that IT leaders felt had the potential to become more significant. In the past, many viewed mobile technologies as a nonessential nuisance to the networking and user services groups. Now we all find ourselves struggling to meet the growing demands for wireless services on a multitude of mobile devices that are owned by individuals, not by the institution.”
- Agility/Adaptability/Responsiveness: “IT leaders and the campus as a whole must realize that technological change demands flexibility and nimbleness. New technologies and new requests for services cannot and should not be perceived as detracting from the institutional mission. Rather, IT leaders need to remember that anticipating and responding to such change is a fundamental requirement of our organizations. We need to change our perspective to see how new technologies and services can enhance the services that are provided to or consumed by the campus community.”
- Governance, Portfolio/Project Management: “All institutions need a strong IT governance model or "structure and process of authoritative decision making across issues that are significant for external as well as internal stakeholders."5 A mark of authoritative decisions is that they are well understood and widely accepted.6 As CIOs lead institutions toward good IT decision-making, they will need to both demonstrate excellent decision-making skills and support good decision-making throughout the organization. CIOs will need to engage partners and help them understand that the factors involved in an IT decision will not change much whether it is the CIO who makes a particular IT decision or someone else.”
- Infrastructure/Cyberinfrastructure: “As services spread out to the cloud, and as institutions rely more on their internal networks for access to on-site and off-site services, campus IT connectivity and integration—that is, the infrastructure/cyberinfrastructure—continues to be of strategic importance. The connection to the Internet is used not just for access to external services unaffiliated with the institution but also for critical cloud-based campus services such as e-mail, learning management systems, ERP, and other administrative functions.”
- Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity: “All campuses need to maintain or restore business and academic services when circumstances disrupt normal operations. Business continuity encompasses disaster recovery—the activities that restore the institution to an acceptable condition after a disaster—but also includes activities such as risk and impact assessment, prioritization of business processes, and restoring operations to a "new normal" after an event. The core of the concept is a collaborative and integrated approach in which every department understands and prepares for the role it will play in keeping the institution functional in a crisis and viable in the long run.”
- Strategic Planning: “IT leaders understand that aligning resources to enable the IT organization to serve the campus mission and to support business needs is essential to demonstrating the value of information technology. Yet the strategic planning process—as well as the extent to which an institution adopts and executes strategic planning processes—is often outside the scope of the IT organization. As a result, the ability of IT leaders to leverage strategic planning processes is often a function of the campus culture.”
New Media Consortium
The New Media Consortium (NMC) is a community of experts in educational technology. Below are summaries from two NMC initiatives related to technology trends. The first is a list of 10 megatrends shaping educational technology formulated at a retreat of higher education IT leaders in January 2012. The second is a summary of emerging technologies from NMC’s 2012 New Horizon Report.
New Media Consortium “Megatrends” Shaping Educational Technology
- The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative. As more and more companies move to the global marketplace, it is common for work teams to span continents and time zones. Not only are teams geographically diverse, they are also culturally diverse.
- People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to. Increasingly, people own more than one device, using a computer, smartphone, tablet, and e-reader. People now expect a seamless experience across all their devices.
- The Internet is becoming a global mobile network — and already is at its edges. Mobithinking reports there are now more than 6 billion active cell phone accounts. 1.2 billion have mobile broadband as well, and 85% of new devices can access the mobile web.
- The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media. Our current expectation is that the network has almost infinite capacity and is nearly free of cost. One hour of video footage is uploaded every second to YouTube; over 250 million photos are sent to Facebook every day.
- Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world. As authoritative sources lose their importance, there is need for more curation and other forms of validation to generate meaning in information and media.
- Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society. In an age where so much of our information, records, and digital content are in the cloud, and often clouds in other legal jurisdictions, the very concept of ownership is blurry.
- Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success. Access to learning in any form is a challenge in too many parts of the world, and efficiency in learning systems and institutions is increasingly an expectation of governments — but the need for solutions that scale often trumps them both. Innovations in these areas are increasingly coming from unexpected parts of the world, including India, China, and central Africa.
- The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy. Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in which information is everywhere. In such a world, sense-making and the ability to assess the credibility of information and media are paramount.
- There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training. Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and socially, but also in academia — and worldwide. As a result, credibility, validity, and control are all notions that are no longer givens when so much learning takes place outside school systems.
- Business models across the education ecosystem are changing. Libraries are deeply reimagining their missions; colleges and universities are struggling to reduce costs across the board. The educational ecosystem is shifting, and nowhere more so than in the world of publishing, where efforts to reimagine the book are having profound success, with implications that will touch every aspect of the learning enterprise.
New Horizon Report
The New Horizon Report examines emerging technologies and their potential to impact teaching, learning and creative inquiry. The project is a collaborative effort of the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. The 2012 New Horizon Report identifies six technologies to watch in the next five years.
Adoption within the next 12 months
- Electronic books continue to generate strong interest in the consumer sector and are increasingly available on campuses as well. Modern electronic readers support note-taking and research activities, and are beginning to augment these basic functions with new capabilities — from immersive experiences to support for social interaction — that are changing our perception of what it means to read.
- Mobiles enable ubiquitous access to information, social networks, tools for learning and productivity, and much more. Mobile devices continue to evolve, but it is the increased access to affordable and reliable networks that is driving this technology now. Mobiles are capable computing devices in their own right — and they are increasingly a user’s first choice for Internet access.
Adoption within 2-3 years
- Augmented reality refers to the layering of information over a view or representation of the normal world, offering users the ability to access place-based information in ways that are compellingly intuitive.
- Game-based learning has grown in recent years as research continues to demonstrate its effectiveness for learning for students of all ages.
Adoption within 4-5 years
- Gesture-based computing moves the control of computers from a mouse and keyboard to the motions of the body via new input devices.
- Learning analytics loosely joins a variety of data-gathering tools and analytic techniques to study student engagement, performance, and progress in practice, with the goal of using what is learned to revise curricula, teaching, and assessment in real time.