Why do IT and Curriculum silos happen?

It seems every industry laments some version of the “IT silo” problem. But the interesting question we could be asking is “siloed from what and at what cost for our business?”. My work in education over the past decade has taught me that at the root of IT resource silos in higher education is the need of curriculum. IT is often under-resourced, dealing with inefficient technology, and otherwise unable to provide timely services when they are needed. So, a researcher or college takes matters into their own hands and creates a small IT team of their own to focus solely on their needs. I was reminded this week about the opportunity schools now have to bridge the gap between curriculum and IT while reviewing a VMware story published about Oregon State University. Despite being laced with IT “issues”, I loved that the focus right out of the gate was on curriculum’s needs – after all, that’s why we all are here. You can read the full case study here.



How Oregon State University organically began working better together

In brief, the university needed to meet the demands of ever-expanding sources of curriculum and specifically cited the desire to give business students an edge by exposing them to software they are likely to use in the workplace, some of which require state-of-the-art hardware to run effectively. Their budgets couldn’t keep up with the demands of software dealing with, for example, data mining and big data analytics. See what Educause Review says about addressing data analytics in higher education.



Their partnership with VMware was key to their success and it apparently shows in their students’ post-course reviews. In addition, this silo-busting comment is noted:


“The faculty loves it too – we get comments all the time from educators coming in from much larger institutions saying they’ve never had this level of responsiveness from IT. We can turn labs around quickly and make changes to images mid-term. It’s a great feeling to be able to say “yes” most of the time.”

– Alan Sprague, Senior System Administrator at Oregon State University, College of Business


Maybe the key isn’t busting silos but rather better communication and collaboration.


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