Destiny One at UC Berkeley

How Destiny One helped UCBX improve retention and program management to facilitate expansion into new markets

UC Berkeley Extension At A Glance

Established in 1891, UC Berkeley Extension is the continuing education arm of the University of California, Berkeley. Founded on the innovative promise of providing high quality postsecondary education to those who would otherwise be unable to access it, UC Berkeley is responsible for building bridges between the University of California, Berkeley and the wider community. 

As a self-supporting unit, UC Berkeley Extension brings the research, scholarship and mission of UC Berkeley to regional, national and global audiences. Through flexible scheduling, competitive pricing and innovative online delivery, UC Berkeley Extension serves the professional and continuing education goals of thousands of American and international students each year. 

UC berkeley

Laying the Foundations for Growth 

UC Berkeley Extension (UCBX)—the continuing education branch of the preeminent university in Berkeley, California—was founded in 1891 to create pathways to programming for those who would otherwise not be able to access postsecondary education. Despite UCBX’s critical mission and the innovative reputation of its home university, its management processes were outdated as a result of the archaic back-end systems in operation. 

In 2013, UCBX turned to Destiny One—the Student Lifecycle Management SLM software platform designed by Modern Campus—to better meet the needs of the modern student while also setting themselves up for growth.

Crafted specifically for non-traditional education, Destiny One manages the entire learner lifecycle, taking care of curriculum, enrollment, marketing, finance and more. The Destiny One SLM integrates with main-campus systems, engages students with an Amazon-like experience, optimizes staff efficiency and provides business intelligence that empowers data-driven decision making.

Destiny One is helping to support UCBX’s growth by allowing divisional staff to focus on critical aspects of divisional development—like programmatic innovation and a stellar customer experience—rather than the more mundane, bureaucratic elements of institutional administration. Specifically, Destiny One has helped UCBX by minimizing silos that separated the division, improving program planning and management, and offering the kind of student experience today’s learners expect.

Shrinking Silos

Destiny One simplified UCBX’s back-end, allowing them to decommission numerous applications and shadow systems and move to a single approach to divisional management.

The first major step to helping UCBX prepare for significant growth was simplifying the administrative back-end, which was complex and nebulous prior to implementing Destiny One.
“The systems that we were using before were very compartmentalized and departmentalized, so they wouldn’t speak to each other,” said Patty Maciel, a Business Analyst at UCBX. 

“Destiny One is more cohesive—it’s more of a Swiss Army knife that all of Extension can use. Additionally, the different parts of the system speak to each other within the SLM, making collaboration much easier.”

This kind of collaboration made it possible for UCBX to ensure all relevant offerings were housed within their specific units, rather than having on-ground courses hosted in one place, online in another, and so on. This, according to Robin Sease—also a business analyst at UCBX—significantly improved program management.

“The implementation of Destiny One allowed us to incorporate and embed the online courses into each of the departments and their corresponding academic unit course load. This allowed each division to manage their own online offerings rather than having an additional online learning division working parallel to everyone else,” Sease said. 
“Because the online courses were being embedded into their respective academic units—rather than managed separately—it became easier for units to coordinate how many sections they were running and where their students were coming from.”

With this simplification and unification of the back-end also came significant savings, both in terms of efficiencies and in terms of dollars and cents. After all, as the entire divisional infrastructure moved to Destiny One, it allowed them to define UCBX-wide processes while also minimizing the number of tools and technologies working alongside one-another. 

Sease, who was working on the information systems team at UCBX prior to stepping into her current role, helped lead the charge on this downsizing.
“One of the first things I did was help decommission a number of different applications as we moved people onto Destiny One,” she said. “We were able to decommission at least a hundred different applications, shadow systems and processes as Extension moved fully onto Destiny One.”

Secure Data Management and Use

With Destiny One, UCBX became more data-driven and organized in its approach to program development and management.

With the unification of the UCBX back end, one of the first areas that was vastly improved was in program development and management.

The Destiny One SLM centrally stores offering information—including rich media, fee information, prerequisite requirements and provisioning demands—and is connected with the divisional website, LMS and appropriate portals. This means when a piece of information is updated in one place, it’s automatically updated everywhere else.

“After moving over to Destiny One we had a web catalog that was produced by Destiny One, with all the content already in it rather than having to be manually transcribed from one system into the marketing material,” said Sease. “We eventually moved away from having a paper catalog and began spending more money on web advertising that brought people to the website itself. That was a huge process change for us that was enabled because of the move to Destiny One.”

What’s more, the Destiny One SLM makes it easy for divisions to repurpose existing offerings so that they can be used in different ways. Staff can set numerous pricing models and delivery methods for the same courses, breaking them down into specific sections and packaging them up into different programs or certificates. This high level of flexibility is central to the success of any non-traditional division.

Beyond setting up programming, the data housed within Destiny One allows for a level of granular, data-driven decision making that ensures offerings are being managed in the best way possible. Destiny One provides non-traditional divisions with full, real-time visibility over their operations with a rich data environment. In addition to the 150 out-of-the-box reports the SLM provides, Destiny One also gives divisions ownership over their own data so they can use it however and whenever it’s needed. At UCBX, the enrollment report has been particularly useful for better managing their resource usage and classroom allocations.

“Since classes don’t all start at the beginning of the semester, but throughout the term, it’s critical that we monitor enrollment numbers daily,” said Rebecca Roos, a business systems analyst at UCBX, who was a program coordinator when Destiny One was first implemented. “We’re looking for low enrollments, for possible cancellations, or looking for classes that were full to manage those numbers. Perhaps classes that were so large that they might not fit in the classroom that they were originally scheduled in.”

“It means small classes won’t take up large classrooms, and large classes will have the space available to offer more sections,” Maciel added. “The physical limitations of our inventory of classrooms has an impact on how many classes we can offer.”

They are also using the data at their disposal to determine whether their offerings are meeting market demand. 

“One of the hopes is that our data analysts will find that we’re over-offering courses—that we offer a particular course every single term and it really is mostly just popular in one term, and if we moved it into just the fall term then we would have a larger set of students applying to that particular time slot,” Sease said.

There are so many things that Destiny One has provided to improve our student experience. I can’t rave enough about it.

Patty MacielBusiness Analyst, UCBX

“A major challenge with over-offering courses is in classroom usage,” Maciel added. “By offering a course every term, we wind up with courses that have maybe 5 to 8 students in them, and they’re taking up classroom space that could’ve been used for larger courses.”

The reporting functions and automations available to UCBX staff through Destiny One are also playing a major role in simplifying processes and reducing the time and effort that goes into critical bureaucratic operations. This reduces the chance of human error while also vastly improving efficiency and allowing staff to focus their time and effort on critical work.

“By moving instructor payroll to the new system they can cut a whole number of processes because now the instructor payroll staff can simply run their couple different reports. They run one that we created specifically for our continuing enrollment courses to pay instructors as soon as all their students have been graded,” Sease said. “Now we’re no longer at risk of staff missing something, resulting in late payments.”

Ultimately, by implementing Destiny One, UCBX made data a critical part of their divisional management toolkit and took significant strides towards improving and simplifying program management.

Improved Staff Efficiency

Destiny One allows UCBX to offer students the kind of experience they’ve come to expect without having to rely on superhuman staff effort.

Today’s students have exceptionally high expectations, and when they enroll at an institution of UC Berkley Extension’s caliber, they expect to receive a class-leading experience both inside and outside the classroom. Traditionally, this was delivered through immense staff effort, who made complex and time-consuming processes seem automated. With Destiny One, however, those processes truly are automated and staff are freed up to be able to simply serve students rather than scrambling in the back end.

The most visible piece of this transformed student experience is Destiny One’s innovative Student Portal. The Student Portal is a self-service portal that allows learners to engage with UCBX on their own terms. They can enroll in courses, request transcripts, review their historical financial information and much, much more all through their personal portal. They can also start and save applications (to submit when they’re ready), drop courses and track their progress toward certificates.

“Our ancient system was a transactional system so each time a student enrolled they created a new entry in the system. They didn’t really have an account, they just provided whatever information about themselves that they wanted to in order to register for the offering,” Sease said. “There was no transcript compilation either, so if a student asked for a transcript the staff had to find all of the student’s entries—which were potentially under different names, different addresses—and manually create a transcript.”

After moving over to Destiny One we had a web catalogue that was produced by Destiny One, with all the content already in it rather than having to be manually transcribed from one system into the marketing material.

Robin SeaseBusiness Analyst, UCBX

The Student Portal put an end to all that. What’s more, as the old saying goes, customers will vote with their feet. When an experience doesn’t live up to expectations, they will often go somewhere else. When it meets and exceeds their expectations, though, they come back for more. At UCBX, they’re seeing the positive impact of a transformed customer experience first-hand.

“With the Student Portal, we significantly improved our student experience and that has made a difference for re-enrollment,” Sease said.

What’s more, given that course information, prerequisite requirements, course provisioning and other unique business rules are all defined centrally and applied automatically across the board, students are never surprised by enrolling in a class it turns out they can’t take or by being provided outdated information. 

“Enrollment restrictions, the use of the portal—there are so many things that Destiny One has provided to improve our student experience I can’t rave enough about,” Maciel said. “I also see how everything is intertwined with each other from module to module. The Destiny One environment is really well connected and simply structured, and it makes a big difference.”

Destiny One is more cohesive — it’s more of a Swiss Army knife that all of Extension can use.

Patty MacielBusiness Analyst, UCBX

Enrollment restrictions, the use of the portal—there are so many things that Destiny One has provided to improve our student experience I can’t rave enough about,” Maciel said. “I also see how everything is intertwined with each other from module to module. The Destiny One environment is really well connected and simply structured, and it makes a big difference.”

Additionally, since students can make secure and personalized purchases through their Student Portal—including applying unique discounts, corporate rates, bundles and more—the burden on staff to process complex registrations is lifted.

“My favourite thing is that it has allowed us to automate a lot of things that we used to do manually or on paper,” Sease said. “For example, allowing students to use discounts when enrolling online or enforcing that only certain students can enroll in a class.”
With these previously time-consuming and complex tasks automated and managed by students themselves, staff can focus more on actually serving students from a place of equal footing. This is facilitated by the student information collected by the Destiny One SLM.
The SLM provides rich insights into learners’ preferences, goals, interests, past enrollments, financial history and more—all permissioned appropriately to ensure the right people can access relevant information. This means when a student calls, emails or comes into the office looking for help, staff can provide immediate contextual support, rather than needing the student to recount their entire history before they can begin to find a solution.

By allowing students to manage the majority of their engagement with the division, and by providing staff critical information they need to deliver personalized service, UCBX is leveraging Destiny One to provide the kind of experience that today’s students expect and are driving retention and re-enrollment as a result.

Laying the Groundwork for Growth

Simplification, Efficiency and Customer Service

To carry out the promise of their reputation, UCBX needed to find a way to deliver the kind of experience that exceeds students’ expectations while also better managing offerings and simplifying their back end.

The Destiny One Student Lifecycle Management platform provided that solution, and allowed UCBX to build a platform on which to grow.

Able to better serve their existing students and to make better use of existing resources, staff and leadership at the university began finding ways to grow. They leveraged Destiny One to expand existing offerings and improve re-enrollments of existing students.
Now, UCBX is finding new markets where they can increase their footprint, and they’re using Destiny One modules to do it. Using the Corporate Engagement Manager, UCBX is finding ways to improve the experience of corporate clients and grow their share of the lucrative professional development and training market. And, with the International and Specialty Program Manager, UCBX is better managing their international offerings, including intensive English language programs, and delivering a more tailored experience to these learners.

All this growth, expansion and development begins with a solid back end, defined business processes applied division-wide, and a laser focus on the student experience. At UC Berkeley Extension, they laid that foundation with the Destiny One SLM. 

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