Ed Tech Trends | Research
Campus Computing Survey: Mobile Apps Grow, Cloud Adoption Slow
The results of a nationwide survey about technology in higher education suggest that the growth of mobile computing on campus has been dramatic in the last year, but that despite the attention paid to cloud computing, most universities are taking a wait-and-see approach for most applications beyond e-mail.
The 22nd annual Campus Computing Survey from the Campus Computing Project surveyed 496 campus IT leaders in September and October 2011.
Mobile on the Rise
Speaking to an Educause 2011 session in Philadelphia Oct. 20, Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project, noted that 55.3 percent of public universities have already activated mobile apps or will do so in the coming academic year, compared to 32.5 percent in fall 2010.
Among community colleges, that percentage more than tripled--from 12.4 percent last year to 40.9 percent this year.
"This is not surprising when we see how widespread mobility is everywhere else we go," Green said. "When I got off the plane here in Philadelphia, I could download a mobile app to help me navigate the city. A year ago I couldn't do that on most campuses, but now I can."
Cloud Adoption: E-Mail, Not Much Else
The survey results about cloud computing showed that more than two-thirds of campuses have handed off student e-mail to cloud providers, but the rate of conversion for faculty e-mail and office applications is much slower. And for applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and learning management systems (LMS), there has been very little deployment yet.
"For all the conversation about the cloud, we now [know] how slow that movement has been," Green said.
Only 4.4 percent of survey respondents reported converting to cloud computing for ERP. He noted that the ERP providers have not yet been offering robust cloud services to clients, but that there also is campus resistance to moving administrative data to the cloud.
"Trust is the coin of the realm," he said. "People say they don't want to let their data be somewhere else."
He noted that ERP is where there could potentially be huge cost savings in the cloud.
"The attitude is 'Let somebody else be the early adopter, and let us know if the world is flat or round,'" he said. "It is going to take time."
For research and high-performance computing, he said, the cloud is usually the choice of individual research groups, but very few universities have a campus strategy yet.
Other Significant Results: LMS, E-Books, Budgets
Noting some other highlights of the survey, Green said the LMS market is in transition and getting more competitive. The number of participants reporting that their institutions use various versions of Blackboard (including Angel and WebCT) fell to 50.6 percent in 2011, compared to 57.1 percent last year and down from 71 percent in fall 2006. Blackboard's competitors, including Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai, have all gained share during this period.
The future of e-books looks strong, according to the report. More than 90.1 percent of the survey participants reported they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that "e-book content will be an important source for instructional resources in five years," up from 86.5 percent in 2010 and 76.3 percent in 2009.
Almost 36 percent of colleges and universities reported experiencing a budget cut in central IT services for the current academic year, down from 41.6 percent last year and 50 percent in fall 2009. The consequences of continuing budget cuts are compounding, Green said, with reduction in resources at the same time that expectations of IT continue to increase. In fact, the survey found an increase in the number of respondents who say hiring and retaining qualified staff is a top concern, perhaps an unexpected result during the economic downturn.
"We haven't seen these numbers so high since the dotcom era," Green said. "Now it may be a matter of burnout. People are being asked to do a lot, and universities can't reward them effectively."
In fact, the number of respondents reporting employee misconduct is increasing, which he called a stress indicator.
David Raths is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer focused on information technology. He writes regularly for several IT publications, including Healthcare Informatics and Government Technology.