How digital moments delight your campus community

In his closing UBTech® keynote, CIO Curtis Carver talks about putting students and faculty first

Something as simple as providing unlimited email space can create an emotional connection between a student and a university that drives academic and institutional success.

It’s also an example of how campus tech leaders and their teams can remove digital obstacles.

“Colleges fail because they don’t meet the needs of their customers,” The University of Alabama at Birmingham CIO Curtis Carver said as part of his closing keynote at 2019 UBTech® conference on Wednesday. “We’re not delighting our customers. We’re actually building roadblocks to them giving us money.”

Read: Voice technology commands a place in higher ed

Students and faculty would rather do great work than have to change their passwords every 90 days. UAB now creates extremely secure passwords and provides password management software for its users. “People tear up and get emotional when you do something like this; it changes their life,” Carver said. “Get the technology out of the way of people trying to do great things every day.”

Of course, his university is working on more complex solutions than just unlimited data storage for students and faculty, and many projects are driven by artificial intelligence.

Over the next three years, for example, Carver and his team will roll out the AskBlaze chatbot, which will answer frequently asked questions through the university’s app. Students can ask about tuition payments and balances. Faculty can get information on health benefits and vacation time. Potential donors can get details about designating their contributions toward specific campus programs.

Read: UB op-ed: Chatbots in universities

The chatbot will provide users with immediate answers and will free up university staff to do more important work, Carver said.

Carver’s next strategic plan for his department will focus on the digital moments that tell stories of students and faculty, rather than on technology. For example, Carver’s team shortened the time it takes faculty to enter final grades from about three hours to about 30 seconds. What used to take 900 or so clicks of cutting and pasting between an LMS and an SIS can now be done by clicking a single button.

The cost of not maximizing the digital experience of students and faculty will be severe, Carver concluded. “If you’re taking linear steps forward at your institution, and other institutions are taking exponential steps forward, that means you’re falling behind exponentially,” he said. “And you’ll go out of business exponentially.”

UB Tech® 2019 livestreams keynotes

All three keynotes at UB Tech® 2019 are available to view live online for any higher ed leaders unable to attend the conference in person, made possible by the exclusive streaming partner of UB Tech®, Mediasite. Read more>

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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