Investigation into the use of Microsoft SharePoint in HEIs
The final report from the Eduserv-funded ‘Investigation into the uptake and use of Microsoft SharePoint by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)’ is now freely available for download (see links on right).
Some of the key findings include:
- most UK HEIs are using SharePoint to some extent (78% of the 40 UK HEIs interviewed in a telephone survey of IT Directors said that they were making some use of SharePoint)
- SharePoint’s rapid rise in the HE sector can be attributed to several factors: (i) the ease with which it can be procured; (ii) its wide variety of functionality; (iii) the gap in the HE information environment for such a product; (iv) its devolution of a lot of power to local users which suits the federal culture of HEIs.
- two distinct types of SharePoint implementation were discerned: organic (bottom-up) implementations and corporate (top-down) implementations
- drivers for implementing SharePoint included: improving document management; supporting collaboration (internally and externally); improving an intranet or external website; targeting information to particular audiences; improving and automating cross-institution processes; providing a personalised portal for staff and students; bring together and managing data from different information systems in the HEI
- a range of critical success factors for SharePoint implementations were identified
- with most HEIs already having a virtual learning environment (VLE) in place only two HEIs were found to be using SharePoint as a VLE; but SharePoint is being used in teaching and learning, particularly for functions such as group collaborative work, ad-hoc non-repeated courses, and work that cuts across different courses
- several HEIs are using SharePoint to support collaborative research work with colleagues in other institutions; whilst there is plenty of scope for SharePoint to support research groups it will face strong competition from open source systems in this space.
This research was conducted in the summer and autumn of 2009 and many of the implementations seen were relatively recent.
2010-11 is likely to see significant development in the SharePoint space. The average size of implementations will get larger as recent implementations mature. SharePoint is unlikely to take much market share from the established VLEs, but we will increasingly see VLEs competing for the attention of academic staff and students with both SharePoint on the one hand and web applications such as Facebook on the other. In the collaboration space SharePoint is likely to face its stiffest competition from Google Apps, rather than established enterprise content management (ECM) vendors.
This study was funded under Eduserv’s Research Programme for two reasons:
- First, to improve HEIs’ understanding about the level and nature of interest in SharePoint and whether it is justified in terms of accepted good practice
- Second, to enhance Eduserv’s understanding about the uptake and usage of SharePoint solutions in the UK HE community and influence their 2-3 year plans for service provision in line with their charitable mission.
The investigation represents the first study into the use of SharePoint in this sector and involved telephone interviews with 40 HEIs (mostly IT Directors and Project Managers); an online survey attracting 51 responses from 47 universities; three case studies; an online community consultation and a literature review.
Over 100 people attended an event - ‘Use of Microsoft SharePoint in UK Higher Education Institutions’ - held in London on 25 November 2009, where presentations shared the project’s interim findings and case studies from a number of HEIs who had experience of implementing SharePoint.
Eduserv is a not-for profit IT services organisation with a charitable mission to realise the benefits of ICT for learners and researchers. We are dedicated to developing effective technology solutions that meet the needs of universities, colleges and public sector organisations.
Project outputs are made available on these pages under a Creative Commons license.
This work by Authors: Julie McLeod, Sue Childs, James Lappin, Gavin Siggers. Copyright holder: Eduserv is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.