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Higher Education's Top-Ten Strategic Technologies in 2014

IT and higher education leaders have long used the annual EDUCAUSE top-ten IT issues findings to calibrate their IT-related activities and inform their strategic planning. In 2014, EDUCAUSE is introducing a complementary list: the top-ten strategic technologies in higher education. Together, the two lists can provide more complete and nuanced guidance on institutional IT priorities.

Our definition of a strategic technology is based on the time, active attention, and priority a technology has at a given time. Mature, fully deployed technologies (such as financial information systems or networks) may be among the most mission-critical technologies, but they are more likely to be receiving operational than strategic attention. “Strategic technologies” are relatively new technologies institutions will be spending the most time implementing, planning, and tracking in 2014.

The top-ten strategic technologies were selected from the analysis of a vetted set of 78 technologies presented to EDUCAUSE members in a survey in fall 2013. This report does not aim to describe or justify the importance of these technologies. A number of excellent existing resources already do that. The value of the EDUCAUSE list is that it is based on data about members’ actual plans and thus sheds light not on what people are talking about but what institutions are doing.

Report and Supporting Materials

Use the interactive graphic to filter the technologies list by institutional characteristics.

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Related Resources

Key Findings

  • Analytics dominates the list, with four of the 10 technologies. Institutions are focusing on both learning and administrative analytics.
  • Mobile apps are also prominent, with two technologies and additional support for wireless networking.
  • Institutions’ other infrastructure priorities—unified communications, virtual desktops or PC applications, and identity and access management—show the influence of BYOE (bring your own everything) and preparation for moves to the cloud.
  • We predict that all 10 technologies will be deployed in at least half of colleges and universities by 2017.
  • Public master’s universities are spending more time with emerging educational technologies than other institutions.
  • Large and private doctoral institutions are paying more attention to more technologies than other institutional types. Relative to other institutional types, a smaller proportion of bachelor’s institutions are paying attention to many of the technologies we asked about. Institutional approaches to technology—whether early adopters, mainstream, or lagging—also influence the technologies selected in the rankings.
  • Four additional technologies may be on the list in coming years because institutions are spending significant planning time on them in 2014: mobile device management, network capacity planning and management tools, mobile data protection, and online courses on mobile devices.
  • Further out, institutions are devoting the most attention to tracking these technologies: adaptive learning, gamification, mobile data protection, predictive analytics, e-book readers/e-textbooks, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), the Internet of things, text content analytics, mashware, open content, and big data.