Higher ed CIOs lay out 8 challenges facing their schools
This CIO roundup is part of the "Mobility in Higher Education" survey underwritten by Sprint Higher Education Solutions and conducted by the Education Dive editorial staff.
The challenges currently facing higher education are many. From technological disruption to funding cuts and pending legislation, the deck often seems stacked against America's colleges and universities. Even the upsides of technological innovation bring their own sets of issues to the table.
In the wake of our 2013 "Mobility in Higher Education" survey, Education Dive spent the past several months interviewing a number of higher ed CIOs at institutions ranging from four-year public and private universities to community colleges and for-profit schools. We asked them to weigh in on what they think the biggest challenges facing their institutions over the next decade are, and this is what they had to say.
Stephen diFilipo, Cecil College: "Leadership. I wrote an article a few years ago for Educause about the future of technology in higher education, and the gist of the article is that the future of technology in higher education has absolutely nothing to do with technology. It has everything to do with leadership. It starts at the top; it starts with the board of directors or the board of trustees understanding the value of technology and how it can be leveraged. It starts at the chancellor/presidency or provost’s office embracing technology—whether they use it themselves or not is irrelevant. It’s championing the use of technology and almost insisting or mandating that we leverage technology everywhere—so social media to the registrar’s office to the library."
Lisa Davis, Georgetown University: "Online learning is going to be really interesting to see how it’s going to play out and how it affects institutions. I’m really curious to see from more of a pedagogical or curriculum standpoint, how it disrupts that traditional model, how it brings more opportunities for hybrid learning in the classroom, accepting credits from other universities — all of those impacts [online learning] will have as it plays out over the next several years."
Andy Jett, Baker University: "Because our main campus, where our data center is, is in a small rural town, we are limited to one possible vendor for support of our bandwidth needs. If I could wake up tomorrow and have one or two more vendors as options to allow us some better competitive rates and redundancy, I would sleep better. ...If we don’t get some additional opportunities for managing and improving our bandwidth, we will be unable to keep up with demand. This demand will come from not just increasing of mobile devices, but the sheer number of devices requiring network access — gaming devices in the dorms, equipment in labs, staff’s increasing needs for online support tools in the classrooms, cloud based collaboration and research, etc."
Fred Tarca, Quinnipiac University: "I think security. I think increased need for security — and everything we’ve talked about depends on a really secure network. Just look at what’s happening in the news at the national scale. People are worried about protecting proprietary information and we worry about this all the time. Security is just becoming such an enormous aspect of what we do on a day-to-day basis. I truly believe that is the biggest challenge over the next decade."
Joanna Young, University of New Hampshire: "People expect to be able to interact with an organization in a personalized, swift manner. IT has to be able to deliver the platforms, with the supporting infrastructure, to deliver that affordably and at scale."
Joe Mildenhall, Grand Canyon University: "The biggest challenge will be moving more and more of our IT needs to the public cloud. We are getting higher and higher expectations for quality every day. To provide that we need to focus our infrastructure efforts on the solutions we have to host locally. We’re aggressively identifying applications and services that are primarily outward facing and building strategies to get them to the cloud. Our operations people don’t interact directly with hardware in data centers anymore so it makes sense to move some of our infrastructure to providers that can provide higher quality and resiliency than we’re able to and simplify our hosted environment."
Baz Abouelenein, Kansas City Kansas Community College: "Consumerization of Information Technology! It is a new and powerful trend that promises many consequences, some of which are positive and some are negative. Most Information Technology professionals understand the importance of forging two-way collaborative relationship with end users, allowing them to participate in the decision-making process in the IT organization without jeopardizing the integrity and security of the college’s most important asset- data. It is also vital for end users to understand that IT professionals are still the Subject Matter Experts in this area and their advice should be taken seriously. Having this understanding on both sides will ensure that institutional and IT strategic goals are aligned to bring maximum benefits to students."
Kim Tracy, Northeastern Illinois University: "How we use technology to really improve the way faculty teach and students learn. I think a lot will happen over the next decade in terms of competitive pressures that will force us to use technology to compete."
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