New automation can help students stay in school

In partnership with the Office of the Provost and other departments across campus, UAB IT is introducing a number of new technologies designed to improve students' education — and help them stay in school.

Beginning in the spring semester, a pilot program offering automated communications in Canvas will go campus-wide, giving faculty another tool with which to reach students who have missed class.

The program allows instructors to send automated messages to students who have missed class or who have not logged in to view information about the class.

The intent of the messaging is student engagement and retention: Instructors can personalize the messages, but the idea is to give students a second chance when they might otherwise drop or fail the class.

The new functionality joins other new technologies that will debut in the spring, including a new class waitlist in BlazerNET and a schedule planner that makes it easier for students to register for classes.

Another pilot program likely to begin soon would incorporate eBeacon technology in UAB’s new mobile app to help take attendance in classrooms.

Vice President and CIO Dr. Curt Carver said technology can help boost enrollment and improve the retention and graduation rates for UAB — which in turn helps boost the economic impact in the Birmingham area. Enrollment was up 6.5 percent for fall 2016, and the retention rate increased 3.1 percent.

“We’re going to have to take transformational steps,” Carver said. “These technology improvements and automations make our students’ and faculty’s lives easier — so that they can go about helping to change the world.”