November/December 2002 // Commentary
The Campus Computing Project:
An Interview with Kenneth C. Green
by James L. Morrison and Kenneth C. Green
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source ( as: James L. Morrison and Kenneth C. Green "The Campus Computing Project:
An Interview with Kenneth C. Green" The Technology Source, November/December 2002. Available online at The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Kenneth (Casey) Green is founding director of The Campus Computing Project. Begun in 1990, the project is the largest continuing study of the role of information technology in American higher education. Early in October Green was in Atlanta for the 2002 EDUCAUSE conference to present the results of the 2002 Campus Computing Survey. While at the conference he also received the first EDUCAUSE award for "Leadership in Public Policy and Practice." The award cites his work in creating The Campus Computing Project and recognizes his "prominence in the area of national and international technology agendas and the linking of higher education to those agendas."

I interviewed Casey following his presentation on the results of the 2002 Campus Computing Survey.

James Morrison [JM]: Casey, what prompted you to initiate the Campus Computing Survey?

Casey Green [CG]: The Campus Computing Project, including the annual Campus Computing Survey, was launched in 1990. At that time there really were no national data about the issue of information technology (IT) planning and policy in the context of instructional and scholarly technology.

The mission of the Project has always been to serve the campus community by providing information that will aid and inform campus IT programs, planning, and policy-making. The model has been to follow "the Gretsky rule": as you may know, Wayne Gretsky once commented that as a hockey player, what made him successful was that he skated to where the puck is going, not to where the puck is currently. The Project's activities have been to understand where the puck is and to collect data that helps us all understand where the "digital puck" is going.

JM: Where is the puck going with the use of information technology tools on college and university campuses?

CG: The puck is going in several directions. In one sense we are coming to the end of an era—what I would call the initial phase of a two-decade long initiative focused on IT and instruction.

If you think about the recent history of technology in higher education, the current cycle really began around 1984 when some campuses, working with Apple and IBM, began computer resale programs in their bookstores, selling desktop computers—microcomputers—to students at a significant discount. By doing so these campuses, in essence, made an implicit promise to undergraduates about the role of technology in the curriculum. The resale programs, coupled with other early campus investments to support IT in the curriculum, were a significant policy statement that computers were not just for computer science or engineering students, but in fact a resource for all students in any and all majors.

The survey data indicate that instructional integration has been and remains a key IT issue for all institutions. The 2002 survey data document the growing use of technology in the curriculum across all sectors of the campus community (Figure 1). This year's survey data also confirm the role of Course Management Software or Learning Management Software (CMS/LMS resources) as a key component of the IT infrastructure across all sectors of American higher education (Figure 2). The data also document the emerging role of wireless technologies in campus IT planning and services (Figure 3).

We are also seeing a subtle but important shift in current campus IT priorities, suggesting that this is a time when campuses are trying to consolidate some of the continuing instructional IT activity but not launch significant new initiatives. Instead, many campuses seem focused on the administrative side of the house as the campus community experiences the transition of what we used to call "administrative computing" towards a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) model that involves fully integrated information systems: student databases, financial information, human resources, alumni data, donors and development, and the like.

For example, I think it is significant that this year, for the first time, our respondents in public and private research universities identify "ERP upgrade/replacement" as the "single most important IT issue confronting my institution over the next two-three years." In contrast, for the past four years, across all sectors, the leading response to this question on our annual survey has been "instructional integration," followed by "user support" (Figure 4).

JM: You've mentioned some of the survey data. What are some of the other significant findings of this year's survey?

CG: There's some good news in the 2002 survey and, well, there is some other news.

The good news is that campus Web portals are beginning to arrive. About a fifth of the 632 campuses that participated in the 2002 survey indicate that they actually have a single/initial sign-on campus portal—a true gateway to a wide and rich range of Web-based campus services that will serve students, faculty, and staff. Another fifth of the campuses in the 2002 survey report that their portals are under development, perhaps for activation by fall 2003 (Figure 5). These are significant numbers. The campus conversation about portals began roughly four years ago, so compared to the usual pace for major change in higher education, portals are emerging at almost "Internet time."

Also, the 2002 survey data confirm the rising use of technology in instruction across all sectors of American higher education: the data indicate that the percentage of classes that use e-mail, Web resources, have a Web page, or use course management resources increased again this year (Figure 6, Figure 7).

Then there is the matter of IT budgets. The 2002 survey data reveal that IT budgets are down across all sectors of higher education. For example, 32.6% of the institutions participating in the 2002 survey report a decline in the academic computing budget at their campus for the current academic year, compared to just 18.0% in 2001 and 11.4% in 2000. Moreover, these cuts were particularly sharp in public universities: 55.5% of these institutions faced cuts in their academic computing budgets, compared to only 27.9% in 2001 and 11.8% in 2000 (Figure 8, Figure 9). We are seeing the kind of budget challenges that we saw in the early 1990s, prompted, once again, by a recession.

But it is a little different this time around. Academic computing will suffer more than administrative computing because the focus over the last fifteen years has been more on academic and instructional computing. Campuses are at the early stages of making very large, long-term investments in the planning, implementation, and deployment of ERP systems, integrating the often separate and sometimes incompatible parts of administrative information systems. For faculty and administrators, this means better data about a wide range of institutional operations and services, including the potential for better outcomes data on the student experience. For students, it means that perhaps, someday soon, many campus portals and Web sites will be as intuitive and responsive as the experience of shopping at (Figure 10).

JM: I enjoyed the presentation by your colleague, Qiong Wang, Director, Department of Educational Technology at Peking University, about the Campus Computing Survey underway in China. How did your partnership with Peking University develop?

CG: I used to joke that my home office was the world headquarters of The Campus Computing Project. I cannot make that joke anymore, as The Campus Computing Project is now officially international; there is even a Web site.

We hope to establish affiliate relationships with a number of institutions across the globe. The first of these relationships involves both China and Hong Kong. My friend and colleague, Professor Wang, used about 50% of the items from the annual U.S. Campus Computing questionnaire for her survey of some 480 Chinese colleges and universities in spring 2002. Professor Craig Blurton at the University of Hong Kong is working on a similar survey, focused on the colleges and universities in Hong Kong. Similar projects are under discussion or in development in other Asian nations, and also elsewhere outside of Asia.

The project in China is planned as an annual survey. Much like the U.S. survey, it will provide data back to university officials for planning and policy decisions on their campuses, and to inform them about national IT issues. There are parallel efforts underway in Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia. The work in Asia reflects a commitment to using a common instrument to generate useful data about IT planning and deployment issues.

For me, it is particularly gratifying that the work begun in China and Hong Kong is based on collegial affirmation and affiliation. My counterparts in Asia are not doing contract projects; rather, they have reviewed the U.S. research and have decided to develop parallel projects which will aid IT planning and policy in their own countries.

JM: Where is the puck going in China?

CG: The People's Republic of China defines access to postsecondary education in a way that mirrors the conversation about access in the U.S. 30 years ago. Chinese officials speak with pride that their college matriculation rates are up to about 12-13% of high school graduates. When I was in Beijing earlier this year, I heard Ministry of Education officials state that the new goal for matriculation rates is to reach 20% by the end of the current decade. These goals represent huge numbers of new students. It is very clear that technology will play an important role in expanding access to postsecondary education in China.

JM: What is your sense of the extent to which faculty members are using technology to enhance an active learning pedagogical model, both in the US and China?

CG: For most of us middle-age, mid-career faculty members and administrators (and I include myself here), technology was not part of the recruitment process to the academic profession. There was no discussion about the role IT would play in instruction years ago when somebody said that you too can be a college professor, you too can work in higher education, you too can wear a tweed jacket.

So there are, I think, two key factors that affect the decisions of faculty members almost everywhere about the role of technology in their courses and instructional activities. First, of course, is infrastructure. If we do not have an infrastructure to support faculty members, they are not going to use technology in their instruction: hardware, software, networks, content, user support, recognition, and reward are all key elements of the IT infrastructure.

Second, it is essential that individual faculty members be able to visualize themselves using technology as a resource in their teaching and instructional activities. The fact that my colleague in the classroom next to me is "doing interesting stuff" with technology makes little difference. If I can't see myself using it, if I'm unsure about the benefits, if I am uncomfortable "doing IT" in front of my students, then I will view IT as simply another distraction or another disruption. I will avoid it and try to ignore it.

JM: Do you think China is about the same place we are in regard to these issues?

CG: China is coming to this a bit later than we did in the US. Consequently, they can leap over some of the early infrastructure and implementation challenges and hopefully gain from the early experience of the US, as well as the experience of other nations in Asia and elsewhere. For example, China will be able to leap one or more generations of technologies—"user friendly" DOS, Windows 3X, and the early days of the Internet. Like many other nations with a significant national commitment to technology in education, China begins with better developed and often less expensive resources: an interactive Web, better user-interfaces for computing, wireless technologies, and, of course, less expensive computers.

And in China as in the US—and elsewhere—faculty willingness to use technology will be a key issue, a key challenge. Here I come back to infrastructure, especially user support, and also reward and recognition. We must begin to recognize and reward the efforts of our faculty members, who view their work with technology as a component of their faculty portfolios during the review and promotion process.

JM: One of the advantages about the Campus Computing Survey going global is that we will begin to have good indicators of where the use of IT is going globally.

CG: That is the hope; that's very much the goal. Again, what is striking to me about the international activity is that this is not contract work. This international network has evolved because individual academics in various nations stepped forward and said, "This makes sense to me; we need to build a process and infrastructure for this kind research in my country."

I think what really helps the international effort is that the work is in the hands of individuals in each nation who are sensitive to the nuances of their own countries and their own cultures, including their academic cultures. They know first-hand the IT implementation and the deployment challenges in their respective systems of higher education. They can use the core components of the U.S. questionnaire, but also add additional items to the survey to address key issues which may be different. For example, in many nations government ministries play a major role in IT planning and resource allocation. So in some countries additional questions about the role of education ministries or other agencies might be appropriate.

For me, it is exciting to look ahead and think that in two or three years we will have really interesting and informative data about IT planning and deployment issues from several nations in Asia, and hopefully from other regions of the globe as well.

JM: Many thanks, Casey, for sharing your work with our readers. We also appreciate making your EDUCAUSE presentations and a summary of the results of the 2002 Campus Computing Survey available on your Web site.

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