August 31, 2020

Robbyn DeSpain, Director of Strategic Communications

From Admissions to Campus Support, VSU Uses Technology in Innovative Ways


VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University is well known for its game on the court or field. So, it’s no surprise that when it comes to technology innovation and support are also the name of the game.

It begins as soon as a potential student shows interest in VSU. The chatbot and artificial intelligence technology — appropriately named Blaze — courts potential students and guides them through the admissions and acceptance process.

“These days student expectations are instant, and waiting on a letter to come in the mail is antiquated,” says Valdosta State University Director of Admissions Ryan Hogan. “We send a text message to each of our accepted students.”

Here’s how Blaze works. First, it responds to a potential student via text. The student can then ask it any questions and get a response. If Blaze doesn’t know the answer the question is sent to Eric Callaway, assistant director of Admissions at Valdosta State.

“Eric spent about four months building Blaze’s knowledgebase, and if it gets a question it doesn’t know, it will send it to Eric, and he will answer it, and the chatbot will know the answer to it next time. So, Blaze is getting ‘smarter’ over time,” Hogan explains.

Housing, advising, financial aid, and other departments also utilize Blaze.

Once those new students arrive at VSU, The Solutions Center takes over their technology needs. The center is in charge of the Technology Services Portal, which provides near instant support for all students, faculty, and staff.

“The Technology Services Portal works as a jazzed-up helpdesk management system,” says Bailey Raffield, a student and employee who helps keep the portal running smoothly. “Anyone with a VSU account can place a work order with Information Technology. It can even be done from a cell phone or tablet — on or off campus.”

The newest part of the Technology Services Portal involves a self-service knowledge base. Raffield says while it is still being developed, it’s a great resource for those new to VSU.

“The knowledge base can answer questions on various topics like resetting a password or how to properly access BlazeView. You can also leave feedback, which is very useful to us as some parts of this are still in development.”

And with many current and future projects in the works, rest assured that Valdosta State University will continue to lead the way in the innovation and technology game.