October 13, 2008

U.S. Higher Education Lags in Technology Integration, New CDW-G Study Reveals

CDW Government, Inc. (CDW-G), a wholly owned subsidiary of CDW Corporation and leading source of Information Technology (IT) solutions to educators and governments, today announced the results of its new study, "The 21st-Century Campus: Are We There Yet?", which examines the current and future role of technology in higher education. With responses from more than 1,000 college students, faculty and IT staff members, the study uncovers how technology is leveraged as an academic tool on campuses today; identifies leaders and barriers to adoption; and recommends next steps to improve campus technology integration.

Regardless of their major, students say campus technology was a key factor in their school selection - and is critical to their chosen professions. At the same time, independent research indicates that employers believe technology skills are growing in importance and that colleges and universities should strive to develop those skills in their students.* However, just 33 percent of faculty say technology is fully integrated on their campuses, and most students lack exposure to common workplace collaborative technologies, such as videoconferencing, Web conferencing and podcasts, CDW-G found.

Included in the report is the CDW-G 21st-Century Campus Index, which incorporates responses from students, faculty and campus IT professionals to assess how well schools are integrating technology into the educational experience. Based on 20 campus technology factors, such as classroom technology integration, one-to-one laptop programs and remote network access, the index reveals that U.S. institutions are just halfway to realizing the 21st-century campus.

"While students are incorporating technology into nearly all aspects of their higher education experience through laptops, the Internet, social networking sites and online course management, the on-campus technology experience is not keeping pace," said Julie Smith, director of higher education for CDW-G. "We do see, however, that colleges and universities recognize campus technology can offer a distinctive competitive advantage as they seek to recruit and enroll the best and the brightest students. As a result, institutions are making campus technology upgrades and integration into the educational experience a priority."

Key findings of the CDW-G 21st-Century Campus study include:

-- More than 80 percent of faculty teach at least some of their classes in "smart classrooms," yet just 42 percent of those faculty use the technology during every class session

-- Topping students' technology wish list is online chat capability with professors; just 23 percent of higher education IT staff say their campus offers it

-- Faculty and IT staff agreed that lack of technology knowledge among faculty is the biggest barrier to technology on campus

Technology Successes

The CDW-G 21st-Century Campus study found that institutions are committed to providing students with network access to campus and educational resources. Nearly all schools provide wireless networks - an essential element to full technology integration, given that 63 percent of students use technology to prepare for class every day. Further, 87 percent offer course management systems, and 75 percent offer distance learning opportunities.

"A robust and secure IT infrastructure on campus, combined with excellent external connectivity, is a minimum starting point for every higher education institution today," said John Ashby, enterprise architect at Saint Louis University.

Challenges to Campus Technology

Beyond connectivity and availability of educational resources, the use of technology in every class is essential to full technology integration in higher education. When faculty hold their classes in a "smart classroom" (e.g., Internet connection, LCD projector, interactive whiteboards, smart podiums), they are nearly twice as likely to integrate technology into every class as their colleagues in classrooms without these tools. One faculty member respondent stated, "I would like all of the classrooms I teach in to be smart classrooms so that each of my students receives the same opportunities and level of instruction."

Beyond technology access, the biggest barrier to technology integration is faculty knowledge. While 85 percent of schools provide faculty with technology training and most faculty are satisfied with the training they receive, 44 percent said their biggest challenge is not knowing how to use the technology.

Calls to Action

With 85 percent of students reporting that technology is an important educational tool and 77 percent of employers noting that the need for IT skills will increase over the next five years*, the 21st-Century Campus report identifies actionable strategies for higher education institutions seeking full technology integration into the educational experience.

-- Assess campus technology: Identify how faculty use technology in class as well as student technology expectations, and use the results to pinpoint challenges and opportunities. The 21st-Century Campus Online Assessment Tool is available at www.21stCenturyCampusIndex.com to assist institutions in making this assessment

-- Monitor what's relevant after graduation: Identify technologies and provide training

-- Train professors: Ensure training meets professors' needs and accommodates their schedules

-- Connect with Web 2.0 tools: Leverage chat, blogs and social media tools to connect students and faculty; build community within and beyond the campus

For more information on the 21st-Century Campus report and to download the complete study, please visit www.cdwg.com/21stcenturycampus. To conduct an annual technology audit and see how your institution compares to the CDW-G 21st-Century Campus Index, please visit www.21stCenturyCampusIndex.com.

* "Are they Really Ready to Work?" 2006, The Conference Board, Inc., The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Society for Human Resources Management.

About CDW-G

A wholly owned subsidiary of CDW Corporation, ranked No. 39 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies, CDW Government, Inc. (CDW-G) is a leading provider of technology solutions for federal, state and local government agencies, as well as educational institutions at all levels. The company features dedicated account managers who help customers choose the right technology products and services to meet their needs. The company's technology specialists and engineers offer expertise in designing customized solutions, while its advanced technology engineers can assist customers with the implementation and long-term management of those solutions. Areas of focus include notebooks, desktops, printers, servers and storage, unified communications, security, wireless, power and cooling, networking, software licensing and mobility solutions.

For more information about CDW-G product offerings, procurement options, service and solutions, call 1.800.808.4239, email [email protected] or visit the CDW-G Web site at CDWG.com.