MOREAU: We have to decide where we want to advance digital transformation in our organizations, because we may decide that we don’t want to advance it everywhere. We’ve got to have that capability of looking at ourselves and asking if this is really the best way to accept admissions applications. Could we say, “We’re only going to ask you for five pieces of information? Of course, we need to get this other information from you, because the law says we have to, but it doesn’t say we have to get it from you directly or all at once, so maybe we’ll get it from the DMV or your high school.”
For example, you might decide that student orientation is not something you necessarily want to transform in the same way you transformed financial aid. You might say, no, it’s critically important to the values of our institution that student orientation is focused on one-on-one engagement and personal contact, and inserting some level of technology into that just for the sake of efficiency might degrade the quality of that experience.
EDTECH: How can IT departments prepare their campuses for digital transformation?
ALDRICH: Today we’re seeing technology that’s being brought in by academic affairs, by student success, by advising — by lots of areas in the institution that were traditionally not technology oriented. You have to ask the question: Is it because they felt IT was not responsive enough in being able to provide that? Digital transformation gives us an opportunity to start rethinking culturally about how we interact with the institution. Do we have the resources to engage more successfully with our partners across the campus? If not, what can we do to start moving in that direction so we can be better partners in the future? Partnership is the key here: We must work with all of the departments as equals in crafting digital transformation.
You’ve got to reach out. You’ve got to engage. You’ve got to communicate. And after you’ve done that, you need to deliver. That kind of communication and bridge-building are the kinds of things that every IT team in education can start doing today.
MOREAU: The biggest thing IT departments can do to support their campuses is work as hard as they can to rebrand themselves as a strategic partner and not as a utility, a gatekeeper, a naysayer or any of those other negative connotations that we frequently have around campus IT departments.
Digital transformation is about people. It’s about service. It’s about instruction. It’s about opportunity. It’s about equity. The technology part is almost inconsequential. It’ll work itself out. It’ll always change. But if we haven’t thought through what we’re trying to do with people and for people, on their behalf as educators, then the technology’s kind of pointless.
To understand how universities may want to start approaching digital transformation, check out "Digital Transformation: The Quest to Rethink Campus Operations."