Gartner Information Technology Research

Case Study: Digital Transformation Journey (University of Central Florida)

Published: 09 April 2020

ID: G00721951

Analyst(s): Jan-Martin Lowendahl


UCF took on a mission to break the “iron triangle” of access, cost and quality by going on a journey from analog to digital transformation. CIOs can learn from how UCF built digital capabilities allowing them to successfully navigate long-term and immediate change such as COVID-19.


In 1995, UCF embarked on a mission to break the proverbial “iron triangle” of access, cost and quality (see Figure 1). They started in the analog realm and then moved through gradual digital enablement, constantly optimizing education delivery through digital means. Then UCF reached a state of true digital transformation, introducing fully digitally dependent adaptive learning while providing affordable quality higher education to students regardless of time, preference or life consideration.

Figure 1: The UCF Digital Transformation Journey

UCF CIO Joel Hartman, who understands the value of creating a leadership culture of analog and digital (AnD, see ), has been crucial in making UCF more adaptive. His ability to create a leadership culture of AnD enabled him to have a lasting impact on the goal of breaking the iron triangle and making it into a golden one. Here is how UCF transformed its educational system:

      In addition, we want to highlight the near-term outcome and best practices that UCF developed and adopted to deal with COVID-19. UCF went fully online with its teaching in a matter of days. On 11 March 2020, the university announced the decision to go fully online effective Monday, 16 March. Face-to-face courses were given until Wednesday, 18 March to go online. The actual course conversion took two to five days, depending on course and faculty availability.

      Below are the 2020 Spring semester numbers to give some indication of the scale:

      • 733 blended sections became 100% online.

      • 4,917 face-to-face sections became fully online.

      • 219,640 SCHs online grew to 712,410 SCHs fully online.

      This amounts to digital delivery more than tripling in less than a week. Please see the attached slides for more detail.

      About This Research

      We developed this case study to highlight how UCF successfully transitioned from a traditional approach to teaching students to providing a gradually increasing digital experience for instruction and learning. The case study is based on previous case studies and interviews with UCF faculty and staff. Key contributors were the CIO, Dr. Joel Hartman the Vice Provost for Digital Learning, Dr. Tom Cavanagh and the head of the Pegasus Innovation lab, Dr. Chuck Dziuban.

      “Financial Decision Support for Digital Learning.” Case Study: University of Central Florida Online and Mixed Modality Course Scenarios. February 2017.

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      Presentation Deck

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