Higher education administrators are facing relentless currents of change. They are often at the center of monumental pivots, including wider adoption of online and hybrid modalities, diminishing budgets and enrollments, increased demand for wrap-around supports, and the impact of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. With each shift, higher education administrators must expertly make decisions that hit a trifecta of achieving benefits for students, faculty, and the bottom line. 

The most recent WGU Labs’ College Innovation Network (CIN) survey reveals how administrators navigate EdTech choices in today’s currents. The CIN Administrator EdTech Survey examines three key questions: 

  1. How are administrators approaching decisions about EdTech in their institutions or departments, and who are they including in the process?
  2. How do administrators view the future of higher education?
  3. How do administrators view new AI technologies, and what are their institutional policies toward these tools? 

The results convey a complex picture for administrators. Rapid changes are making it harder to confidently know which EdTech products are the best institutional fit. In turn, administrators are becoming more cautious, which could keep students from getting the products they need and EdTech companies from taking chances that will truly transform the education sector. Examining the key findings, analysis, and takeaways of the survey provides higher education administrators with a deeper understanding of current trends, actionable steps for enhanced decision-making, and new strategies to meet students’ evolving needs.

1. Administrators lack confidence in choosing effective EdTech products

Among survey respondents, fewer than half of administrators (47%) said they are confident in their ability to choose effective EdTech products. That lack of confidence is understandable. Administrators are faced with a deluge of products, many of which are unsupported by efficacy studies. In fact, among the 1.82K funded EdTech companies currently serving higher education, only 7% provide evidence of their efficacy. Sorting through which solution aligns with their institution’s needs and keeping up with the rapid development of technology is challenging for administrators. 

Access to insights and various perspectives could boost administrators' confidence, yet many aren’t tapping into available data to make decisions. Nearly half (48%) of admins work at institutions where technology audits are conducted less than once a year. Fewer than one in three (30%) of faculty said their institution frequently seeks feedback about their experience with EdTech, and 38% said their institution seeks feedback from students less than once a year. 


To increase administrators’ confidence and give students and faculty a greater voice in decision-making processes, institutions should establish procedures and best practices for regularly auditing and gaining feedback on the technology tools available for teaching and learning.

2. Caution drives administrators' EdTech priorities

When it comes to choosing EdTech, 58% of administrators said their top priority is integration with their Learning Management System (LMS). Their second priority is seeing evidence of successful implementations at other institutions (46%). We also asked admins what problems they most want to see EdTech solve. The top three answers all related to the student experience: making courses more engaging, improving the quality of online learning, and increasing access to student support services.

From these findings, it seems uncertainty and a focus (rightly) on student outcomes lead administrators to err on the side of caution. They may therefore shy away from products that disrupt the industry, instead relying on products from larger tech companies that fit with their existing tech stack. Ultimately, this may limit innovation in higher education and prevent institutions from staying up-to-date with students’ evolving needs. 


Institutions need processes that balance administrators’ reluctance to implement the unproven with the need to innovate and take advantage of new solutions that may better serve learners. Forming strategic partnerships or conducting pilots could allow institutions to test the effectiveness of new products before widescale adoption. 

3. Administrators are excited about AI but want evidence of impact

More than half of administrators (52%) are positive about using AI tools in higher education. Yet 67% report that their institution does not have a policy on faculty use of these tools in instruction, and the same percentage lack a student policy. While it is possible administrators have been slow to develop such policies because they lack the time and resources needed to engage deeply with the technology relative to their institutions’ needs, it may also be an indication that administrators are struggling to navigate the uncertainty around AI and to apply strategic thinking about how their institution may benefit from it.

Administrators reported feeling largely enthusiastic about offering more learning modalities and credential options in the future, such as hybrid courses (79%), micro-credential and certificate options (78%), and more online programs and courses (57%). Yet, the survey results also show their lack of confidence in choosing the tools right for their institution and their reluctance to adopt bold innovations. Faculty, too, question whether administrators are making the right selections for learning environments. In our latest CIN Faculty EdTech Survey, 30% of faculty respondents said they do not trust their institution to choose effective products, and 98% said faculty should be the stakeholders influencing EdTech decisions.


Establishing ways to collect key input from faculty, students, and vendors, as well as more nimbly developing policies for AI and other emerging technologies, could help administrators steer the changing EdTech current more effectively.

Dive deeper into the report’s findings: Download the Admin Report