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Educause Announces Top IT Issues, Trends and Tech Report for 2017

Expanding on the preview of its annual ranking of IT issues for higher education released last fall, Educause today announced its full report on the key issues, trends and technologies poised to impact higher ed in 2017. The prevailing themes across the board, according to the higher education technology association with a membership of 2,100 colleges, universities and other education organizations: information security, student success and data-informed decision-making.

The top 10 IT issues for 2017, reiterated in today's report:

  1. Information security;
  2. Student success and completion;
  3. Data-informed decision-making;
  4. Strategic leadership;
  5. Sustainable funding;
  6. Data management and governance;
  7. Higher education affordability;
  8. Sustainable staffing;
  9. Next-generation enterprise IT; and
  10. Digital transformation of learning.

 In addition, Educause released a preview of a "Top Trends" report that will describe the trends that its members have predicted will most influence their IT strategy in the new year. Members chose from among 36 trends, which included the Internet of Things, sustainability and changing faculty roles.

The "most influential trends" are those that affect IT strategy in more than six in 10 institutions. Currently, that shortlist encompasses:

  • Continued complexity of security threats;
  • Imperatives tied to student success; and
  • Data-driven decision-making.

Among the trends that are "taking hold" — or influencing IT strategy within 41 to 60 percent of institutions — are these nine movements:

  • The increasing complexity of technology, architecture and data;
  • Turning IT into an agent for institutional transformation and innovation;
  • Maintaining a "compliance environment";
  • Overseeing institution-wide data management and integrations;
  • Helping in campus safety;
  • Redesigning business process;
  • Instilling diversity and inclusivity;
  • Changing enterprise system architectures, integrations and workflows; and
  • Incorporating risk-management approaches into IT strategy and service delivery.

The full "Top Trends" report is expected to be published later this year.

Educause also offered a preview of what its members consider the most strategic technologies in higher ed. The "Top 10 Strategic Technologies" report, expected later this month, will identify fairly new technologies that institutions will spend the most time implementing, planning and tracking this year. This compilation, in rank order, was selected by members from a vetted set of 85 technologies:

  1. Active learning classrooms;
  2. Tools for improving analysis of student data;
  3. Uses of application programming interfaces;
  4. Integration of mobile devices in teaching and learning;
  5. Mobile apps for enterprise applications;
  6. Blended data center, for both on-premise and cloud-based operations;
  7. Utilities for planning and mapping students' educational plans;
  8. Database encryption;
  9. Programs for triggering interventions based on student behavior or faculty input; and
  10. (Tie) Technology for mobile device management and for offering self-service resources that reduce advisor workloads.

As Susan Grajek, vice president of data, research and analytics, explained in a prepared statement, the technologies and trends findings reinforce student success as a central theme for higher ed IT in 2017. In fact, she noted, two of the three most influential 2017 trends are pertinent to student success — both student success imperatives and data-driven decision-making. "The distinction between the priorities of the IT organization and those of the institution is blurring, and panelists were very conscious of that," she said. "Collaboration across campus is more important now than ever before as we truly understand the impact IT can have on institutional and student success."

Each year Educause brings together a representative group of about two dozen members who meet quarterly to discuss what's going on in their institutions. Roles include both technology and academic orientations. Members' areas of concern and interest result in a slate upon which the larger membership votes. The "Top 10 IT Issues" report and accompanying resources are available on the Educause website here; the "Top 10 Strategic Technologies" report will be published here later in January.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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