Budget concerns are the most cited hurdle in the way universities adopt new technologies, according to a survey of more than 600 leaders in higher education.
A Chronicle of Higher Education survey questioned 665 higher education leaders in March about the technological decisions they made during the pandemic. While respondents said they were more interested in exploring open educational resources, predictive analytics, AI, and chatbots, about 75% said they believed budget concerns were a major challenge in using new technologies.
IT staffing and budgets were reviewed for higher education institutions across the country, as universities needed to simultaneously increase technological capacity and at the same time balance the revenue challenges exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Some universities now use federal recovery funds to accelerate the adoption or modernization of technology to support online or hybrid learning.
More than half of respondents pointed to teachers ’reluctance as a challenge to the adoption of new technology. Two other main concerns were strengthening the campus IT infrastructure and measuring results.
“Managers, including presidents and supervisors, finance officers and technologists, generally agreed on these challenges, although IT staff were a little less concerned about the IT infrastructure and were more concerned than the colleagues to evaluate the results, ”the report says.
Communication between senior managers about technology improved due to the pandemic, said most respondents, and 75% believed that this communication would continue after the pandemic.
The survey shows, however, a gap between the way IT and other college leaders viewed the pivot of e-learning caused by the pandemic. When asked if the university’s “technical operations and systems” were ready for remote operation during the pandemic, 74% of technology officers agreed. But only 60% of college leaders and 58% of finance officers felt the same way.
Concerns shared anecdotally with researchers about online learning preparation were the lack of consistency in online tools and technology in classrooms.
“Some respondents suggested that campus cultures, including an ethos focused on face-to-face teaching, slowed down the adoption of remote instruction,” the report says. “As one respondent said,“ As a residential liberal arts university, the faculty was previously not interested in or supportive of exploring online teaching to a significant degree. Therefore, the classrooms were not equipped with the ideal hardware and we had no experience in the ideal software. ”
The survey, sponsored by software company Ellucian, also explored how officials felt cloud technology affected online learning during the pandemic. About 97% of officials said cloud computing services were very or somewhat valuable during the pandemic. Online instruction and student services were the main areas that respondents felt would be further improved through the use of cloud services.
Cloud technology is being implemented in universities to upgrade their services across the organization. Loyola University of New Orleans has recently selected Ellucian as a provider for updating student information and finances, modernizing paper-based processes that would require visits to various departments.