Non-degree divisions of higher education institutions operate in challenging circumstances. They serve students who have a lot of choice and who act like customers. What’s more, their programming is rarely eligible for financial aid, which means students pay out of pocket.
As a result, the learner and employer stakeholders they serve have incredibly high expectations for the offerings and the experience non-degree divisions deliver.
Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies is no different. With a mission to create access to high-quality education offerings for people in their local Houston community, the team at the Glasscock School is responsible for delivering high-quality programming to a very diverse customer base.
To help execute their mission, the team adopted Modern Campus’s Destiny One in 2017. Destiny One is the only student-first solution to manage the business of non-degree education for higher education providers, creating personalized pathways to lifelong learning for diverse audiences. Unlike first-generation, one-size-fits-all SIS’s, which are ill-equipped to serve the unique requirements of continuing education and workforce development, Destiny One ensures every CE student’s digital experience mirrors the highly personalized, instant delivery expectations created by companies like Amazon.
According to Saira Cooper, director of digital learning, IT and operations at the Glasscock School, Destiny One’s focus on effective businesses practices tailored for non-degree divisions simplifies the management of these otherwise complex offerings.
“Destiny One’s ability to minimize manual staff involvement in processes adds a lot of value. My team can stay focused on instruction, making sure that students’ learning experience is good, instead of having to do tasks that students don't care about,” Cooper said. “We work with the lean team with automations that extend us more than what we could do with a few people.”
The team at the Glasscock School gained additional advantages from Destiny One because of its capacity to integrate into other key technologies they use to run their business.
“Just like one person can't do it all, one system can't do it all,” Cooper said. “You need different systems that you can optimize in terms of what they do best.”
In particular, Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies has benefitted from integrating Destiny One into their LMS (Canvas) and their marketing automation system (HubSpot). These integrations helped drive a 35% enrollment increase through the pandemic while also saving months of staff time that could be refocused to value-adding work.
“One major benefit of the integration between Destiny One and key tools like HubSpot and Canvas is that we were able to enable the data we put into Destiny. The access and the visibility of the data makes Destiny One so effective,” Cooper said.
Of course, leveraging these kinds of tools isn’t just a nice-to-have for modern colleges and universities. According to Kara Eldersveld, director of marketing and enrollment strategy at the Glasscock School, these enhancements to infrastructure are essential to meeting learner expectations.
“Consumers expect an Amazon-worthy experience, but universities are not Amazon,” she said. “Driving towards a closed loop integration is helping us better close that user experience gap. Consumers are demanding it more and more. Those who don't do it are going to become obsolete.”
One major benefit of the integration between Destiny One and key tools like HubSpot and Canvas is that we were able to enable the data we put into Destiny. The access and the visibility of the data makes Destiny One so effective.
Integrating Destiny One with Canvas to Improve the Student Experience
Learning management systems (LMS) play a pivotal role in the delivery of modern education programming. Not just for online courses anymore, the LMS stores critical course materials, hosts discussion boards and a range of other items that make it central to modernizing the learning experience for today’s students.
The Glasscock School took advantage of an out-of-the-box integration to connect Destiny One to their Canvas LMS, then enhanced it with some minor automation scripts.
Before the Integration: Stress and Delays
Before the Canvas integration, the staff at the Glasscock School was under significant pressure to manually get students provisioned for courses—sometimes with only minutes to spare before the class started.
“We used to have to tell students that they needed to wait 24 to 48 hours before they could access course materials in our Canvas LMS from the time they registered,” Cooper recalled. “They had to wait that long because that’s how long it took us to get that information, then create the user in Canvas and then add them to their section. We used to be pulling our hair out because five hours before the class is going live, registration is still open and we're getting registrations that need to get provisioned.”
According to Cooper, this environment stretched staff thin while still making it difficult to meet the modern learner’s expectation for immediacy.
“Manually provisioning students after they register could be one person’s job,” she said. “It was very stressful for all of us because we didn’t want the student to wait when the class was about to start.”
After the Integration: Modernizing the Student Experience
Once the team at the Glasscock School integrated Destiny One into their Canvas LMS, they were able to put those manual tasks behind them while delivering the experience modern students expect.
“With Destiny One, students have access to their course in the LMS within an hour of registering,” Cooper said. “It could be real-time, but we purposely set it up with an hour delay in case someone realized that course wasn’t right for them.”
“Providing immediate access helps us engage students quickly and get them excited about the course.”
Destiny One’s been seamless for us. We can automate certificate issuance with the software. So, once a student’s done what they need to do for a class, Destiny One lets students immediately get their certificate or badge for it.
Students also have the capacity to quickly access their grades—as well as execute a number of administrative functions—through Destiny One’s self-service Student Portal. What’s more, the Glasscock School team can include calls to action to view relevant programming in the Student Portal to help learners see new pathways for their education.
“Getting grades from Canvas into Destiny was another benefit because it meant students didn’t have to wait days,” Cooper said. “They could look at their profile in the Student Portal and get information quickly, and also see opportunities they may not have otherwise known about.”
“Destiny One’s been seamless for us,” Cooper added. “We can automate certificate issuance with the software. So, once a student’s done what they need to do for a class, Destiny One lets students immediately get their certificate or badge for it.”
Ultimately, the team at Rice University’s Glasscock School is able to leverage Modern Campus Destiny One—and its integration into Canvas—to offer students an Amazon-like experience that keeps them engaged and coming back for more.
“As a School of Continuing Studies, we want to offer an Amazon-like experience. We want students to click a button, check out a class, and enroll immediately. And, if the course isn’t available, we want to simplify the process for them to be notified when it does become available,” Cooper said. “With Destiny One, we’re able to offer an experience that is more carefree.”
Integrating Destiny One with HubSpot to Improve Marketing Effectiveness
Any modern business is reliant on the effectiveness of its marketing organization to drive customer engagement and retention over time. This is as true in higher education as it is in any other industry.
To support the effectiveness and efficiency of its marketing team, the Glasscock School at Rice University built an API integration between Destiny One and its HubSpot marketing automation system. Leveraging this integration, which they built in-house and got live in fewer than six months, they gained significant efficiencies and visibility across the enrollment pipeline.
“From Destiny’s standpoint it was easy because they can give you data in a nice, concise format—however you need it. What takes more time is figuring out how the other system is going to digest that information,” recalled Cooper. “Under our six-month timeline, we were able to make that integration happen with one internal resource."
Under our six-month timeline, we were able to make that integration happen with one internal resource.
Before the Integration: Time-Consuming Manual Reporting
Prior to Rice University Glasscock School building an integration between HubSpot and Destiny One, marketing reporting was arduous, error-prone and anything but real-time.
“We were manually comparing data points from three different systems to gain visibility into marketing effectiveness,” said Eldersveld, director of marketing and enrollment strategy. “There were a lot of discrepancies with the fidelity of that data, but we were just trying to get a baseline and it was a very large lift.”
“It took about a full week to run those reports and compare those reports, which meant we could only do it on a quarterly basis,” she added
After the Integration: Expanded Reach and Capacity to Engage Students for Life
“With the integration between Destiny One and HubSpot, we’re able to save four weeks a year for an entire team,” Eldersveld said.
Gaining back this much time would have massive implications for any team, and for the marketing group at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, it’s opened up new and exciting possibilities.
“Destiny One’s helped us hold ourselves and our partners more accountable for the performance of our marketing campaigns,” Eldersveld said. “We're more confident in the data. We can see what kind of ROI we're getting on our ad spend and quickly get a sense of what's working and how we can pivot.”
One innovation that’s come from this shift is the execution of a strategic discounting tactic, which would have been impossible without the pipeline visibility created by Destiny One and HubSpot working together.
“If a student engages with us a certain number of times through a specific pathway, we are now able to serve up discount messaging,” she said. “The cost efficiencies of using discounts as drivers towards conversion rather than a blanket discount can be significant. It’s allowing us to capture what could otherwise be a lost lead.”
As a result of strategic discounting, on top of a number of additional innovations pioneered by a marketing team more able to focus its time on marketing, the Glasscock School enjoyed its best enrollment period for many of their online programs through the COVID-19 pandemic—when higher education institutions nationwide were actually losing enrollments. In fact, the Glasscock School saw a 35% increase in course enrollments for many of its programs.
“This is also due to our focus on upsell, which is another benefit of Destiny One,” said Eldersveld. “If we see that a student is interested in a particular course, we can go beyond recommending other courses and use Destiny One to offer special bundle packages that allow prospective students to save money while advancing their education.”
Ultimately, by leveraging the integration between Destiny One and HubSpot, the marketing team at Rice University’s Glasscock School expanded its focus and delivered outcomes for its entire institution.
“One of our biggest goals is for the marketing team to gain greater capacity to retain students over a period of time—to increase the lifetime value of that student,” Eldersveld said. “In order to do that, that user must have a seamless experience throughout their time with Rice University.”
“Destiny One helps us expand and improve our student experience. It's been really rewarding.”
Establishing Space to Scale into the Future
With Destiny One, and its flexibility at the center of the tech stack, the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University is set up to continue scaling and executing its mission in new and exciting ways.
“The integration has made our work more seamless, so marketing is focusing on what they need to rather than trying to back-fill and keep up,” Eldersveld said. “It’s been a saving grace from an operational standpoint on how we market ourselves and how our staff spend their time within those systems.”
“When you invest in automation, you are then able allot time for strategic and creative strategies to expand our reach and improve student retention over time,” she added.
“We’re finding creative ways to use that data to market to our community,” Cooper said. “With Destiny One, we’re able to think creatively about what’s next for us instead of keeping our heads down and trying to do work that a good system could handle for you.”
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