Trends and issues with IT in higher education

Educause’s Current Issues Committee put out a report in 2007 (Educause Quarterly, Number 2) revealing the most important issues for information technology leaders. As such, course and learning management systems have moved into the top ten issues (along side of issues such as security, access and funding, etc).

Termed as C/LMS (course/learning management systems), these systems are becoming a fast growing utility, needed 24/7. However, one concern is they are selected more for their administrative tools than their interactive features that might help students engage. Whereas, course systems are being designed as more student centred giving students more control over content and supporting higher-order learning activities.

When the authors, Camp and DeBlois (and the committee) reviewed other annual reports published in other literature, they found the following pressing issues with technology, learning and administration:

  • an emerging trend is new teaching and learning technologies are/can address different learning styles
  • there are new studies on student technology use and skills
  • sadly, student learning styles and expectations are driven by technologies and culture; but also not by institutional decisions
  • more undergraduates than graduate students are online; however, the grad student count is slightly higher
  • over 96% of the largest institutions are online offerings, with 2/3 having fully online programs (compared to 1/6 of smaller institutions) and doctoral/research institutions having the greatest number of online programs. But don’t forget the for-profit colleges.
  • compared to 2003, academic leaders have increased their rating for thinking online education is the same if not better than face-to-face education from 57 to 62%. Those who think online learning is more superior has risen 40% from 12.1 to 16.9 percent.
  • a balance is needed between academic IT and administrative IT

Other issues are:

  • increasing competition from for-profit colleges
  • shifts to business models in response to shifts in student demographics
  • the incongruency between evolution in technology and pedagogy
  • a question remains whether a system has improved services for all (students, faculty, staff and administrators)

Last, classroom and facilities has risen to third place as an issue consuming the most human and financial resources. This is fueled by installing learning technologies in classrooms and labs as well as wireless services on campus.

It will be interesting to watch institutions as they address IT solutions and plans for such things as infrastructures, learning environments, emerging tools, information literacies, integrated resources, faculty support, institutional missions and policies,  and evaluation.

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