Universities know they need to undertake digital transformation, both for their own success and for the good of their students. However, it’s often daunting to choose the first step or consider what the end goal looks like.
To help shape your journey, universities should look toward groundbreaking leaders in the digital transformation space. Three examples stand out: the University of London, the University of East Anglia, and Maine’s Public Universities. These innovative organisations have used technology to build experiences their students value for a lifetime — and here’s a look at what made it possible.
Digital Transformation in the Student Experience
To fully appreciate the progress made by leading universities, it’s important to take a step back and look at the connection between digital transformation and the student experience.
Today’s students don’t just want technology in their learning environments — they expect it. As apps, smartphones, and even virtual reality (VR) technologies become commonplace in everyday life, learners look for the same systems and concepts in the classroom. When these options are underwhelming or entirely absent, the consequences may include lack of engagement, missed learning opportunities, and more.
In addition to being an expected part of everyday life, digital transformation in the student experience has significant advantages for learners. Take, for example, survey responses gathered by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), which identified the ways in which university students benefited from digital solutions put in place due to COVID-19:
- Flexible access to materials
- Early availability of lecture questions
- Easier learning experiences
- Improved retention
- Reduced fees
Although these benefits look good on paper, they become far more dynamic in real-world settings. That’s especially true in the case of three digital transformation leaders in education: the University of London, the University of East Anglia, and Maine’s Public Universities.
University of London
The University of London designed their portal upgrade around the concept of community. For example, single sign-on, simpler navigation, and an easy-to-update homepage allow students to quickly access course information and interact with professors. This was particularly important for the 170,000 international learners who made up the student body, as their disparate geographical locations could have made education feel isolated.
With 150 years of experience in distance learning, however, the University of London was not easily deterred. Although its small yet capable developer team was previously occupied by manual maintenance tasks and lengthy product updates, a new portal solution allowed them to shift their focus back to building a community. Their new, low-code platform has built-in developer tools and allows the team to deliver personalised content based on individual user profiles. That means the university experience is consistent yet customised no matter where students are located, which results in a truly connected, equitable learning community.
University of East Anglia
While the University of London focused its digital transformation around community, the University of East Anglia (UEA) adopted a similar approach. When it came time to upgrade its outdated system, UEA knew it had to focus on one thing: users (including both students and staff). Instead of manually figuring out what users needed to access, how they would access it, and what issues they might encounter along the way, UEA reimagined its self-service portal to approach these questions in simpler, stronger ways. Instead of having to treat users as an afterthought, the new portal was built to adapt to their needs and behaviour.
After this simple yet powerful digital transformation, UEA began to see results immediately. With 1,500 pages instead of 20,000 — that’s 92% fewer pages — students were better able to navigate the university experience, complete self-service tasks, and interact with digital touchpoints. The portal, called MyUEA, now has 28,000 total users making a total of 50,000 searches per day.
Maine’s Public Universities
The University of Maine System (UMS) serves 40,000 students and faculty. With so many people relying on UMS’s technology, the system’s Web Development team knew any attempt at digital transformation would have to prioritise speed and efficiency. This was a significant challenge, as UMS’s existing portal had legacy applications, data, and content that needed to be migrated.
Thanks to what was called a “one-university, multi-campus” concept, UMS was able to turn a 20-month project into an 18-month transformation. The result was a responsive, integrated solution that delivered a consistently high-quality experience across the state — all while retaining the unique features of every individual campus. Students, alumni, and faculty can now quickly access information regardless of location or device, engage with more training materials online, and use the learning management system with a single log-in — a modern portal for a modern university experience.
Transform Your Student Experiences
With leaders like the University of London, the University of East Anglia, and Maine’s Public Universities to guide you, it’s easy to imagine what the future might hold for your university’s digital transformation. However, progress isn’t the result of optimism alone. Your university must take the first step toward change — and for these three leaders, that step was Liferay’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP).
Ready to evolve your student experiences and become the next university leader in digital transformation? See what Liferay DXP can do for educators like you.