The shift to digital has sparked a fundamental shift in the ways students interact with the world, with college campuses at the center. One of the shining lights is California State University, Fullerton, where 41,000 students and 5,000 faculty members and staff have developed a reputation for tech-savviness and an embrace of innovative technologies. Even before the pandemic compelled campuses around the world to reconsider remote learning and digital tools, CSU was moving toward a game-changing digital transformation. “At CSU Fullerton, we want to promote digital transformation not just for our campus, but for the entire university system, the community, and the world,” explains Vice President Amir Dabirian, the college’s CIO.
CSU Fullerton has implemented a suite of Adobe solutions, transforming the on-campus experience while ensuring students have the digital and creative skills that will position them to be winners in the digital economy upon graduation.
Embarking on the journey
At the onset of its transformative journey CSU Fullerton found itself in a similar position to many of its fellow academic institutions. Students had to slog through paper-heavy processes to accomplish basic tasks like signing up for classes, changing majors or minors, or requesting a leave of absence. Faculty and staff were hobbled by piles of manual paperwork to approve, process and store.
At the same time, Fullerton’s leadership reached the consensus that by embracing digital learning, it could position its students for future digital earning—so they added digital literacy and skills training to their transformational “to do” list.
“At CSU Fullerton, we provide tools and training for everyone so we can level the playing field — and those students can go out into the world and make a difference,” Dabirian says. “It’s a journey. It starts here, but it doesn’t end here.”
A transformative partnership
One of the first – and most innovative things—CSU Fullerton did was go virtually paperless across its campus, leveraging Adobe Acrobat Sign, Adobe Acrobat DC and Adobe Experience Manager Forms. These tools empowered CSU Fullerton to automate processes with online forms for selecting classes, making requests, and engaging in other activities with the click of a button. Digital forms are routed to the correct faculty or staff members, allowing students and staff to handle their tasks in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks.
To date, CSU Fullerton has converted more than 250 legacy forms with Adobe Experience Manager Forms and added secure e-signatures. As a result, the university is now able to process more requests in less time, with security and compliance built in.
So far, the university has cut paper usage and costs by 50% and dramatically shortened administrative processes from weeks to hours.
“We’ve converted over 90% of our forms,” says Joseph Luzzi, assistant vice president for IT and enterprise applications, who oversees implementation execution of new technologies. “It’s just unbelievable the amount of forms we were able to convert and the efficiency we brought to all our processes around those forms.”
Adobe Acrobat Sign has also proven to be a boon for the university, which needs to handle up to 4,000 document requests per month. With the new process, users can simply sign and send digital copies of their documents to staff—all digitally.
From challenge to opportunity
When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged the work CSU Fullerton had already done toward its digital transformation efforts were felt most dramatically.
Moving tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff members to a remote environment is no small task. It is even more difficult when this needs to happen in a matter of days.
But that is precisely how long it took to completely migrate CSU Fullerton’s campus to a virtual learning environment. Students and faculty needed to approximate their in-class experience and access the tools they would otherwise in the classroom. Thanks to the integration of remote learning and digital tools, they were able to do so, while enjoying the same rich experiences virtually as they had in person on campus.
“That would not have been possible without all the work we’ve done to go digital,” says Dabirian. “Even the skeptics now see how important our technology initiatives are.”
The impact of digital literacy
Thanks to the transformation efforts, CSU Fullerton students are enjoying a better student experience while earning the critical digital skills that will give them a head start in the Digital Economy.
Nearly 12,000 of the university’s students use Adobe Creative Cloud applications in the classroom to enhance their studies in a variety of ways. For example, marketing students are using Creative Cloud to design graphics and make videos, and business students are using it to design business cards.
The university is also instilling confidence along with digital skills. Almost 65% of first-generation students express the belief that Adobe Creative Cloud apps will make them more competitive in the workforce, and 73% say it has enriched their education experience thus far.
Setting the pace for the future of education
The impressive actions CSU Fullerton took to spark a digital transformation on campus has paved the way for other universities in the CSU system to follow its lead.
The universities and colleges that choose to follow in its footsteps will likely also find that their
employees are focusing more time and resources on offering better experiences for students, and students are enjoying a richer educational experience that will empower them to compete on an even higher level as they prepare to move into the next phase of their lives.