How Destiny One is helping OISE Continuing and Professional Learning prepare for the future of education
Teachers need to be constantly engaged in professional and continuing education, which means that faculties of education have had a dedicated demographic of working professionals returning year after year. But at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies of Education (OISE), their Continuing and Professional Learning division has started widening their scope to engage professionals across all sectors of education.
“Just to think of the faculty of education as a Teacher’s College is quite myopic. When you think about formal education, it’s a system and it runs along a significant continuum. It starts with early childhood education then moves to K-12, postsecondary higher ed, and then we move into workplace learning and development,” said Elisabeth Rees-Johnstone, Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Learning (CPL) at OISE. “If you look at all levels, employers are spending significant dollars in professional training and are struggling with how best to operate these programs. Faculties of education have an opportunity, but also an obligation, to serve the education community as well as ensure the long-term viability of the faculty of education within the university sector.”
About OISE Continuing and Professional Learning
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto has, for more than a century, made a major contribution to advancing education, human development and professional practice around the world. As the leading world renowned faculty of education in Canada, OISE has been on the front lines of education reform by building the capacity and capability of education professionals across all sectors of the Canadian education system as well as leading education research around the globe.
Through our extensive research, and wide array of professional development solutions we continue to learn and evolve our understanding of best education practices which in turn assists Canada, and our global colleagues, in achieving their strategic education vision.
Every year, OISE Continuing and Professional Learning (OISE CPL) welcomes thousands of educators from across Canada, and internationally, to engage in professional development solutions which align to their education sector needs: PK-12, Post-Secondary and Workplace Learning as well as their learning preferences: on-Campus, online and blended. In addition to our learning programs, OISE CPL provides consultation services, as well as custom/bespoke professional learning programs, that address the many needs and objectives of education leaders and their organizations.
The Role of Technology in Implementing a New Go-To-Market Strategy
Of course, broadening the learner base from populations who must engage in continuing education to those who can choose to enroll if they wish requires the institution to think more carefully about what this new population of learners need. Rees-Johnstone, who joined OISE in 2014, said she knew the first step to attracting more discerning customers—who have a wide array of choice in their ongoing education—was to craft an exceptional customer experience.
“When I arrived here I was really concerned about the customer experience,” she said. “We had these three clunky legacy systems and an awful lot of paper-based administration, which meant that even trying to maintain some semblance of a quality customer experience was stressful for the team.”
The existing systems did not allow for a consistent and seamless experience for students and created immense challenges for staff, but concerns about data integrity were the last straw for Rees-Johnstone.
I knew we needed a solution that would ensure the security of our data and also ensure that the customer experience was in alignment with the needs of a continuing education professional.Elisabeth Rees-JohnstoneExecutive Director of Continuing and Professional Learning (CPL), OISE
“Our IT partners told me our data was at risk, and if our legacy servers went down they might not be able to retrieve the data at all. That really was the last straw,” she said. “We had some legacy systems built more for traditional postsecondary students than professionals. I knew we needed a solution that would ensure the security of our data and also ensure that the customer experience was in alignment with the needs of a continuing education professional.”
What Do Working Professionals Want?
Shifting gears to find a system that suited the needs of non-traditional students required OISE’s leaders to put serious thought into the ingredients that compose a great customer experience.
“When we think about the non-traditional student, our learners are looking for a way to shop around more to find out what interests them,” Rees-Johnstone said. “Non-traditional students want to be able to self-serve, to shop a bit to determine what it is they’re looking for and what they need. They want to know the system will remember their information. Offering an experience that’s quick and easy is key, and that’s a very different need than what students expect when applying to a formal undergraduate or graduate program.”
Working professionals expect a high level of service in every touch point with the institution, not just during the enrollment phase. They want a customer experience that mimics what they’ve become used to from their experience with online shopping sites, banks and most other service sector companies. They want self-service options to manage bureaucratic aspects of their interaction with their institution—like pulling down a transcript, tracking progress toward a certificate or making a payment—without having to physically go into the office or speak to someone on the phone.
By meeting their expectations, education providers can develop a lifelong relationship with working professionals, as they need to continue educating themselves over the course of their careers. According to Rees-Johnstone, this means divisions serving non-traditional students have a far more significant need to deliver on learners’ expectations than those in more traditional parts of the institution.
“Enabling learner choice and control through a self-service model is critical to delivering a great non-traditional student experience. That goes all the way through the entire experience from that first engagement a prospective learner has with your web presence through to how they engage with your content through to how well their concerns are addressed when they call your office for help,” Rees- Johnstone said. “Is the process easy and seamless? Is the student confident they’re going to get what they’ve paid for, in the way they expect? At every touch point we want to ensure that we’re erring on the side of generosity.”
Leveraging Technology to Meet Student Expectations: Four Reasons Why OISE Chose Destiny One
Modern Campus’ student lifecycle management software, Destiny One, is specifically designed to help administrators serve their non-traditional audiences better. It integrates with main-campus systems, engages students with an Amazon-like experience, optimizes efficiency and provides business intelligence that empowers data-driven decision making. Above all that, though, there were four key reasons why OISE Continuing and Professional Learning identified Destiny One as their ideal partner.
1. Allows Self-Service
By leveraging Destiny One, college and university divisions that serve working professionals can more easily support their learners’ unique needs. Destiny One allows schools to create curriculum, manage enrollments, direct marketing efforts, stay on top of finances, and report on operations. Additionally, Destiny One’s intuitive student portal gives learners the self-service experience they expect. They can make secure purchases, request transcripts, review historical financial information, track certificate progress and more at their convenience—24 hours a day, seven days a week, on desktop or mobile.
2. Designed for Non-Traditional Learners
Destiny One stood out to OISE CPL’s leadership team for a few key reasons, according to Rees- Johnstone, but above all else was its laser-focus on meeting the needs of non-traditional divisions, crafting a high-end customer experience and supporting organizational agility.
“We’ve faced limitations in the past because our systems wouldn’t allow us to be nimble, and now with the help of Destiny One we have so many opportunities ahead of us,” she said. “I had confidence they understood what we were trying to achieve, and over and above everything else, there was a huge commitment and focus on customer experience, which is something that we hold near and dear here.”
We grew our business at the same time as implementing a major operational overhaul, and that was only achievable by having the right talent around the table.
What’s more, Destiny One was designed by Modern Campus specifically for the non-traditional education market. Since 1995, the company has been creating business solutions for continuing education divisions, culminating with the launch of the Destiny One platform in 2001. This platform has evolved with the market to continue meeting and exceeding the needs of the growing non-traditional demographic enrolling in higher education.
“I was probably most intrigued by the fact that Destiny One was a software platform built and focused on continuing education,” said Rees-Johnstone. “We knew Modern Campus understood the continuing education experience and the learner’s journey.”
3. Improves Efficiency and Effectiveness through Automation
Destiny One allows OISE CPL to automate repeatable tasks—like managing workflows around new offerings, handling finances and engagement with all learners and major accounts, and importing historical enrollment, course and program data. This lets staff accomplish more in less time by making sure that repetitive tasks are taken care of, so staff can focus on value tasks.
“Every task that looked automated to the learner was in fact extremely cumbersome
and labor-intensive for staff,” said Rees-Johnstone of OISE CPL’s environment before
implementing Destiny One. “Technology plays a role in supporting a great staff experience
because it makes it easy to deliver a great student experience. Nobody shows up in
the morning wanting to do a terrible job, but when you’re working across a myriad of systems or diving
into paper or lacking easy access to critical information, it creates a negative staff experience. The right infrastructure allows folks to really shine and do what they do best, which is ultimately to serve and deliver a great experience to learners.”
We’ve faced limitations in the past because our systems wouldn’t allow us to be nimble, and now with the help of Destiny One we have so many opportunities ahead of us.
By leveraging Destiny One’s automation, staff time can be reallocated to higher-value areas like student service, divisional transformation and growth.
“When we reduce some of the low-hanging administrative tasks it starts to create capacity for folks to brainstorm and get creative,” Rees-Johnstone said.
4. Transforms the Experience Of All Stakeholders
Creating an all-around better experience for learners, staff and facilitators alike, while reducing information security challenges and improving their ability to develop and get new offerings to market more quickly and easily made Destiny One stand out as the ideal choice to help get OISE CPL to the next level.
“Customer experience, staff experience, inefficiencies for workflow and then of course data and risk were the core reasons why we needed to look for a new system,” she said.
Making Implementation Easy: How OISE Was Assured Destiny One Was the Right Choice
The out-of-the-box implementation process, the ability to get up and running with a minimum of customizations, and the expertise of the Modern Campus team were big selling points for OISE.
“We aspired to find a partner where we could plug and play,” Rees-Johnstone said. “Early on we had a very frank conversation with the Modern Campus team about resources, timelines, organizational commitment and internal talent requirements. For me that was point number one—who makes up the team that’s going to come together internally to ensure execution?”
We knew Modern Campus understood the continuing education experience and the learner’s journey.
Every implementation of Destiny One is a team effort, with a group from Modern Campus working hand-in-hand with an in-house team at the college or university. At OISE CPL, Andrew Chiang, an Infrastructure Technology Solutions Analyst, led the Destiny One implementation project.
“The biggest challenge here was to re-map our internal processes and do a lot of re-inventing of how might we fit the crucial parts of our tradition legacy systems into to a new system,” said Chiang. “We knew there would be some customization but we really tried to leverage as much as possible of what had been built already. What Modern Campus has created is built upon a decade or more of customer insight.”
With the implementation completed on time and under budget—all while beginning the process of expanding their business to new demographics—the team at OISE and their out-of-the-box implementation of Destiny One has set Continuing and Professional Learning on the road to long-term success.
“We grew our business at the same time as implementing a major operational overhaul, and that was only achievable by having the right talent around the table,” said Rees-Johnstone. “I can’t say enough about the Modern Campus team and how they brought the experience and the know-how we needed. It’s a people thing first and a technology thing second, and I think we got both pieces right.”