Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Eduserv’s report into the use of SharePoint by Higher Education Institutions

The final report from the University of Northumbria, completed through the Eduserv-funded ‘Investigation into the uptake and use of Microsoft SharePoint by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)’ is now available for download.

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.

For further details go to: http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/sd/academic/ceis/re/isrc/themes/rmarea/eduservsp/


  1. This is a really interesting report - I think we have gone past the point where it is a competitive advantage to have a tool such as Sharepoint, we need it just to stay in the game!

  2. Stephen Brown, our critical friend has sent the following review of Sharepoint, by a software developer.

    Interesting that the review recommends it for "small groups" who need to collaborate or share documents but not for Web Content Management, Forms Processing, Complex Workflow, and Records Management.


  3. This is great information – its encouraging to see online education is becoming more widely accepted and the benefits are backed up by a range of studies.