Toronto firm inks deal with two major U.S. universities

Toronto-based software firm Destiny Solutions Inc. has announced it will bring its flagship continuing education management platform to two major U.S. schools.

The continuing and distance education units at The Pennsylvania State University and University of California, Santa Barbara have both begun implementing the company’s Destiny OneCE software to revamp the way they manage, track, collect and use student data.

Destiny OneCE is a management platform that connects to traditional in-house or proprietary administration software that educational institutions already use, such as student information, financial or CRM-based systems.

The software also allows for different dashboards for students, staff, instructors, and the general public. For example, instructors can use the software to post course information and enter grades, while school staff can look at an overview of a student’s communication, academic and financial histories.

Destiny Solutions said the systems being used by most higher education institutions today are not effectively for managing continuing education and online students. The reason is that students enroll in these courses in a very different way than a traditional and fairly linear Bachelor of Arts program.

On many traditional administrative systems, students are required to register separate user names for different courses, because they were built to service students pursuing one degree as opposed to continually pursuing standalone courses.

At Penn State, the school is connecting the software to its homegrown system, which is basically comprised of several smaller systems handling tasks such as registration and course creation.

“The difficult part was there was no central database for us,” Bart Grande, technical project manager of CRM, customer systems and Web services at Penn State.

The benefit of feeding all of their systems into one central hub, he said, will be particularly helpful in the way the school interacts with its current and prospective students. Grande said a centralized database will allow the school to have a consistent message when communicating to students.

The school is also taking advantage of the shared services features in Destiny OneCE, which is helping Penn State connect its 20 state-wide campuses together under the platform.

“We had people cutting and pasting for a living from one system to the next,” Grande said. “We’re replacing somewhere between 50 and 200 shadow systems.”

The project should be completely finished by the end of next year.

Michael Brown, a professor of counseling, clinical and school psychology and the acting dean of UC Santa Barbara’s Extended Learning Services division, gave many of the same reasons for making the move to specialized continuing education software with the primary goal being the need for a Web-based, relational database.

“In higher education, we historically tend not to invest in our business systems and instead invest in our instructional or research infrastructure,” he said.

Brown added that this is a trend that will continue to change as educational institutions realize they cannot rely on 20 or 30 year-old IT systems any longer.

Destiny Solutions said it will continue to target clients across both Canada and the U.S. as more schools realize the growing interest in continuing and online education. Canadian higher education institutions already using the company’s software include University of Toronto, University of Calgary and Toronto’s George Brown College.

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