• Rethinking Higher Education

    Peter Smith's take on opportunity and access in higher education, the unmet challenges that remain, and the future that lies ahead for those willing to tackle it.

Big Idea 2: Destiny Solutions

New ways of managing the student lifecycle.

March 18, 2020

Another big idea comes with the integrated student life-cycle management platform developed by Destiny Solutions. Of course, they are not the only group playing in this space. They are, however, as comprehensive and aggressive in their vision and model as anyone I have encountered. And it is important to know the scope and depth of new services coming down the track.

Destiny Solutions’ (DS) bottom-line assumption is that students of whatever age will increasingly expect an end-to-end user experience that compares with the best experiences they have with other providers. They are moving beyond the assumption that the core value of IT services is in the back room at colleges and universities. And their data suggest that learners not only want to see administrative functions and all related functions streamlined and accessible through one app but also that the availability and of these services affects their impression of the institution in question.

In their document “Student Lifecycle Management and the Learner Experience,” DS goes through several traditionally back-end experiences and describes how they can be used to positively affect learners as they move through their life cycle.

They describe four stages or functions to elaborate on their core assertion.

Creating curriculum. DS argues that by automating work flows, the process of creating new curriculum or rethinking existing curriculum can be speeded up significantly. They are also suggesting that unbundling and rebundling curriculum in response to learner’s expressed needs can be done more quickly and effectively. Their bottom line for curriculum is:

Learners want access to relevant courses offered in a modality, timeline, location, and price point that works for their unique needs. By having efficient and streamlined back-end processes, schools can deliver on those needs. (p. 8)

Planning marketing campaigns. DS suggests that the key to successful marketing is tracking and leveraging student information to influence the campaign. That allows marketers to target learners who are aligned with the school’s historic and future focus. But there is more to it than outreach. Once the student approaches the school, everything has to be easy to navigate, personal and friendly. Their bottom line for marketing is:

Today’s learners are experienced customers and it takes a lot to stand out to them, especially as their expectations have been heightened by advances in other sectors. An institution needs to be able to deliver customized marketing messaging that specifically addresses students’ needs, and then leverage a consistent and responsive digital experience to establish a positive impression. (p. 11)

Managing enrollments. The transition from interested prospect to enrolled student is one of the most fraught and, in many cases, underestimated moments in the student life cycle. Key characteristics include “providing students with an online shopping cart and self-service portal that allows them to browse offerings and manage their own course and financial information … also to manage their own registrations, payments, and other aspects of their enrolment” (p. 14). DS’s bottom line for enrollment management is:

Today’s students are juggling more priorities and have less time available than ever before … Institutions need to make it as easy as possible for students to quickly manage as much of their own enrollment as possible. And when students do need to interact with the institution, staff should … provide learners with personalized customer service. (p. 15)

Analyzing data and reports. This is the function that feeds all the other functions continually, allowing for continuous improvement as well as quality assurance. The DS bottom line is:

When a division is being run effectively at every level -- when resources are being properly allocated, when staff are fully informed, when the division is adapted to meet the tendencies of students rather than forcing students to adapt to the institution -- it stands out from the crowd. Data is at the core of delivering the exceptional student experience in today’s higher education environment. (p. 18)

This big idea, and others like it will revolutionize and vastly improve the student experience. Institutions that ignore these challenges do so at their own peril.



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