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Building the Future of the Student Journey with Effective AI and UI/UX Combined


This is a session recap from the 2024 ASU+GSV Summit, featuring WGU’s David Morales. Watch the full session below.

At Western Governors University (WGU), the student experience is at the heart of everything. As David Morales, the chief information officer and senior vice president of technology at WGU, emphasized, "Anything that we do should benefit our students. They are the primary beneficiaries of full innovation at WGU." 

Embracing Self-Service

Recognizing the power of self-service, WGU has prioritized empowering students with the right information at the right time, enabling them to make informed decisions and take ownership of their educational journey.

Morales explained, "We're focusing on how we use AI and the user experience at the right level with the right motivation and the right easiness of consumption of the systems."

David Morales, the chief information officer and senior vice president of technology at WGU discussing the future of the student journey at the 2024 ASU+GSV Summit.

Three fundamental tenets underpin this self-service model:

  1. Providing students with the right information at the right time to choose their next best steps
  2. Designing solutions that optimize successful self-service for every student, regardless of their level of technological proficiency
  3. Leveraging technology solutions to monitor and provide real-time proactive engagement interventions when needed

Personalizing the Enrollment Journey 

Ashish Fernando, founder and CEO of iSchoolConnect, WGU's technology partner, emphasized the importance of flipping the traditional enrollment funnel. Instead of starting with the question, "What program do I want to study?" the focus shifts to "What do I want to become?". This approach allows for a more personalized and purposeful student journey, where technology, including AI, is strategically deployed to support the student's goals and aspirations.

Fernando explained, "We've really been working closely with WGU on rethinking the whole student funnel, not looking at it as the typical 'I've got 100,000 leads in our funnel, and my conversion rate needs to be so much.' Rather, we're looking at it closely from a student standpoint, with the student at the center of our journey." 

Integrating AI and UI/UX

The partnership between WGU and iSchoolConnect has led to the development of innovative solutions that seamlessly blend AI and user interface/user experience (UI/UX) design. One example is the transcript recognition model, which uses AI to quickly process and analyze student transcripts, identifying relevant courses and transferable credits. This streamlines the enrollment process and provides students with immediate feedback on their academic progress. 

Morales emphasized the importance of involving business owners and subject matter experts in developing these AI-powered solutions. "Even before our students see any AI model, it has been presented first to our business owners who own that business flow. They evaluate and retrain it whenever needed, so we serve the students the exact WGU way."

Student Success is Always the Focus 

By prioritizing the student's needs, embracing self-service, and bridging the gap between education and careers, WGU and iSchoolConnect are paving the way for a future where AI technology is an enabler, not a barrier, to student success. 

As Morales said, "It's not about AI. It's all about the student." This unwavering focus on the student experience is the driving force behind WGU's innovative approach and the key to unlocking the full potential of technology in higher education. 

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