Alan P. Hyatt and Dr. Eric L. Denna, Information Technology
In the realm of higher education, learning is continually facilitated, enhanced, and improved through technology. At Brigham Young University, the summary mission of the Office of Information Technology is to support the mission and objectives of the Church Educational System and its operating units by acquiring, creating, organizing, and making available tools that (1) enhance student learning, faculty teaching, and scholarship, and (2) improve the key decision and administrative processes of the BYU entities.
To gauge the ongoing accomplishment of that mission, this research was designed to quantitatively assess BYU’s status quo relative to other institutions of higher education. The research was designed as an information-gathering exercise rather than an experimental test of a hypothesis. The object of this survey was to compile benchmark metrics from a variety of peer universities whose circumstances, environments, or technology objectives are similar to those of Brigham Young University.
Twenty-four institutions were invited to participate in the survey. A variety of universities were selected to represent a wide range of specialties, enrollments, and characteristics. The common denominator among the selected universities was their commitment to providing a quality education that makes appropriate use of information technology.
Information was received for fourteen institutions. The information collected represents more than half of the invited participants. Some of the respondents provided information for multiple universities that are included in the same university system, e.g. Indiana University, the University of Michigan, and Penn State University. Therefore, the results were compiled representing ten respondents (including Brigham Young University). The ten respondents are listed alphabetically below:
Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, Claremont Graduate University, Cornell University, Indiana University System, Pennsylvania State University, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Utah, University of Virginia
The participating universities represent a wide spectrum of institutions of higher learning. Large and small, public and private, undergraduate and graduate universities, and entire university systems were included, from across the United States. The tabulated metrics were designed to provide a roughly equitable comparison among such diverse characteristics.
Methods of Gathering Information
An invitation to participate and a hard copy of the survey were sent to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of each university with an invitation to respond electroncially. The majority of the respondents submitted electronic responses via a website hosted by the BYU Office of Assessment. Responses were clarified through follow-up via email and telephone.
Measures and Metrics
31 measures in 8 measure categories and 10 metrics in 5 metric categories were developed to be consistent with industry standards, yet uniquely designed for a university environment. The metrics provide for equitable comparison among universities of different sizes. Examples are shown in the tables below.
Results and Conclusions
The measures and metrics were ranked and presented in tables and graphs. A summary report was mailed to each participating university. An electronic copy of the final results was also made available to the respondents upon request. Because the survey consisted of various types of information, each university was invited to draw summary conclusions individually using the tabulated survey results. Examples of conclusions include:
• BYU has a comparatively high ratio of students to IT personnel
• BYU’s network is one of the most stable and most quickly repaired
• BYU’s operating budget per student is comparatively low, but the capital and project budgets per student are average
• BYU provides fewer network access points and fewer lab computers per student
The survey presents a well-rounded view of the position of technology at BYU. BYU is still developing its IT infrastructure. Perhaps due to a geographically compact campus, BYU is providing access to technology to a greater number of students with fewer resources.1