CCIC member institutions make a significantcontribution to higher education productivity in Connecticut by awarding a large share of the state's degrees.
Wake-Up Call: Technology Isn’t Just the CIO’s Job
by Michael Glubke, President & CEO, Dynamic Campus, Inc.
"Information technology (IT) is already a commodity, like electricity,” said Purdue University CIO Gerry McCartney at the annual Campus Technology event back in in 2011. “It's essential but not strategic. You're penalized heavily if you're not there, and there's no benefit if you are there."
McCartney wasn’t looking to pound a nail in the coffin of IT when he addressed his audience of higher education IT professionals that day. His comments were intended as a wake-up call. From his perspective, the relationship between an institution of higher learning and technology had reached a tipping point of sorts. In order to continue to deliver value, higher ed IT leaders could no longer simply rely on their historical roles as caretakers of the campus infrastructure; they needed to recast themselves as strategic partners for the institution.
HIGHER ED’S GROWING RELIANCE ON IT
How prophetic were McCartney’s statements? Consider the results of a recent survey by the Educause Learning Initiative, or ELI. In late 2015, EDUCAUSE® asked their community of higher education institutions to identify the key issues in teaching and learning for 2016. Respondents identified 16 common challenges.
ELI’s list ranged from the general—“academic transformation” and “adaptive learning”—to the specific, including “evaluating tech-based instructional innovations” and “next-gen digital learning environments and services.” But one fact about the list stood out most: 11 of the 16 top issues identified were either partially or entirely dependent upon IT to deliver or overcome.
ELI’s list is indicative of higher education’s growing reliance on IT in all facets of the student and staff experience, but unfortunately many institutions are failing to take the steps necessary to address this fact.
“The speed of technological innovation and industry demands is moving faster than higher education’s ability to adapt,” according to a July 2015 article of Harvard Business Review. “Students … expect their institutions to deliver technologically enhanced experiences, yet higher education doesn’t always deliver.”
It’s impossible for today’s colleges and universities to achieve their strategic goals without heavy dependence on IT partners and platforms. In that respect, McCartney’s statements from 2011 have been proven correct. So why are so many colleges and universities struggling to adapt to this new reality?
I would propose that McCartney was only half right. His speech was prescient, but it didn’t go far enough. Yes, college IT leaders need to step up into more strategic roles in order for their institutions to be successful. At the same time, university presidents and chancellors need to meet their CIOs halfway, understanding and embracing IT more than ever before.