Digital transformation at UofL
Digital transformation at UofL

Technology and innovation are at the core of nearly every activity at the University of Louisville, as well as the larger work economy. Whether it is education, business operations, research or patient care, everyone at UofL uses technology to communicate, manage information and work efficiently and effectively. On campus and beyond, understanding how to use the most up-to-date technology and applications enhances student and employee success and increases graduates’ attractiveness to employers by meeting job requirements for expertise in software applications.

To ensure the UofL community is prepared to engage in the evolving global market, the university has undertaken a broad array of digital transformation projects designed to provide the digital and mobile on-demand solutions and services required to efficiently work, learn and create, as well as training opportunities for applications in high demand in the workforce.

One prime example is the use of the virtual meeting application Teams and other Microsoft 365 applications for virtual collaboration. These applications quickly became part of daily life for nearly everyone on campus in 2020, replacing in-person meetings, classes and presentations made impossible by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because these tools already were available to the UofL community, the move to remote work and learning was accomplished quickly, reducing the impact of the pandemic.

Several other key platforms also are available to the Cardinal community, including Adobe Creative Cloud. Beginning in September 2020, every active UofL student, faculty member and employee was provided access to the Adobe suite at no cost thanks to a university enterprise license. Creative Cloud is an industry standard platform for creating documents, videos, audio, graphic design, photos, illustrations, websites and mobile apps. It includes more than 20 popular applications such as Acrobat, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and others. The suite is accessed using a UofL email and password.

To help students, faculty and staff become proficient, training for Microsoft 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud applications is available virtually through the Digital Transformation Center (DTC).

The DTC is UofL’s portal for technology research, innovation and learning, providing access to free or low-cost training for Microsoft, the IBM Skills Gateway, Google Analytics Academy, Adobe and Cisco, as well as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, machine learning and other technologies. Nearly all training courses are available at no cost for UofL students, faculty and staff, and many come with badges, certificates or other credentials upon completion.

Sharon Kerrick, assistant vice president of the DTC, estimated that more than 4,000 people have accessed the digital transformation web portal, 600 users have accessed Adobe Creative Cloud training and the center has facilitated nearly 1,000 badges or other credentials in Microsoft, IBM and Google since their launch last year.

More than just providing the applications and enabling learners, the DTC created the Digital Transformation Team to work with faculty and staff to expand the use of these resources in teaching and learning, research and innovation, faculty and staff development and civic and partner engagement. For example, the team works with the Cardinal Core Curriculum Committee to encourage faculty and staff to intentionally integrate the applications into the learning environment, reinforcing the core set of digital skills needed by graduates in the workforce.

Jason Zahrndt, program manager of the Digital Media Suite in Ekstrom Library, said that in the last two years, that program has consulted on the creation and use of media for classroom instruction and activities more than 1,100 times and at least 100 courses have included media assignments, involving more than 2,400 students and faculty members in every college and unit. In 2020-21, 13 instructors used Adobe products in Cardinal Core courses.

Instructors are incorporating other applications into courses as well. The Cardinal Core class LEAD 256, “Technology in our world today,” for example, incorporates five technology industry badges from IBM, Microsoft and Google. These are customized to each student’s career path (analytics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, etc.) or can be a mix of topics to provide broader exposure to different technologies. Students in the class also must complete an applied learning project using their newly acquired skills.

To increase digital literacy for staff and faculty, the DTC partners with the Employee Success Center to present virtual Tech Tip Tuesdays, and Taste of Technology events have highlighted key applications from Adobe and Microsoft and opportunities through the DTC.

In support of the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan to ensure UofL is a great place to work through professional development, the Employee Success Center and the DTC announced in March that UofL employees and students have no-cost access to LinkedIn Learning. The platform includes more than 16,000 virtual courses designed to refine and develop technical, business, software and creative skills. As of the end of June, more than 1,200 Cardinals had taken advantage of courses through LinkedIn Learning.

Brian Buford, executive director of the Employee Success Center, said digital resources such as LinkedIn Learning and others allow people to work and learn together more efficiently whether they are on Belknap Campus, the Health Sciences Center or in other locations. 

“We are learning new ways to work and connect with one another and technology is at the heart of all of it,” Buford said. “Whether it’s meeting on Teams, developing our teams with LinkedIn Learning modules or editing shared documents online, it’s just amazing how much we’ve been able to do remotely.”

The skills learned by using these technologies within university life also will transfer to students’ and employees’ future professional work.

“Adobe, Microsoft, DocuSign and LinkedIn learning are all great resources for faculty and students to use for learning and accomplishing tasks, assignments and efficient work,” said Rehan Khan, vice president and chief information officer for UofL. “These digital resources and platforms are the essential tools required for today and the future. As society continues to transition to digital services and engagement mastering these tools will enable greater productivity and success.”

To improve administrative functions, the university’s information infrastructure also is undergoing digital transformation. Projects include upgrading human resources management with Workday, enhancing internal and external web resource through the web improvement project and implementation of Cayuse, a new electronic administration tool for university researchers.

This broad effort in digital transformation aligns with the university’s commitment to ensure UofL is a great place to learn and a great place to work, as well as supporting the Grand Challenges of Engineering Our Future Economy and Empowering Our Communities.

The initiatives support the growth of future tech talent in Louisville, which recently was ranked 13 among the Next 25 emerging tech talent markets in CBRE’s 2021 Scoring Tech Talent Report, with 19,290 people employed in technology and an increase of 31% in tech talent employment in the last five years.

The resources of the DTC are made available to the wider community through projects such as the Louisville Future of Work Initiative, the Louisville Central Community Center’s Analytics Track and the Digital Transformation Academy for high school students. These projects empower individuals in nearly any field to take advantage of emerging technologies in their chosen industry, prepare employees to fill vital technology jobs and encourage lifelong learning in the community at large.