The top 10 IT issues to watch for in 2017

Growing emphasis on student success

EDUCAUSE recently released its list of the top 10 IT issues that will face higher education in the coming year. 

To compile the list, EDUCAUSE meets four times annually with a representative group of about 24 members. The group answered questions about their institutions' concerns, after which the larger EDUCAUSE membership voted on the issues that came up.

For 2017, the top IT issues are:

  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
  10. Digital transformation of learning

For the second year in a row, information security was ranked as the #1 IT concern. The remainder of items on the list carried over from last year as well, with the exception of three new issues: strategic leadership, higher education affordability, and next-generation enterprise IT. 

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Susan Grajek, the vice president of EDUCAUSE, says that despite security winning first place again, the growing emphasis has really been on student success.

She also points out that student success is somewhat of an umbrella term that directly relates to other topics on the list, such as:

  • Data-informed decision-making (#3);
  • Strategic leadership (#4);
  • Digital transformation of learning (#10); and
  • Sustainable staffing (#8).

What role can IT play in student success?

At the conference, the IT panel's audience voted on the items from the list they would most like to discuss:

  • Next-generation enterprise IT (53%);
  • Digital transformation of learning (38%);
  • Strategic uses of data (38%);
  • Information security (30%); and
  • Focused and relevant priorities (29%).

The issue of next-generation enterprise IT, the panelists agreed, is more about integrating and managing technology than it is about the technology itself. Business processing teams and frameworks for calculating the total cost of ownership can address both.

Digital transformation of learning is also an issue that goes beyond specific technology, says Rebecca Davis, the director of instructional and emerging technology at St. Edward's University. "What we're actually talking about is a cultural transformation of the whole university," Davis says (Kelly, Campus Technology, 11/10; Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, 11/10).

Have productive conversations about information security

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