University of Phoenix

How the University of Phoenix helps students achieve their education goals with Pendo

  • Marketing
  • Product
  • UX

Targeted in-app messaging to engage users

Communicated quickly in a crisis

Product(s) Used

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For adult learners trying to further their education, online university courses offer a path to new skills or possible new career opportunities from the comfort of home. But those students are often juggling work and family commitments along with course loads, and it’s all too easy to let things slide by the wayside.

The University of Phoenix was looking for a way to connect with those students in real time, so they could proactively guide them toward course and degree completion. Michael Hilton had used Pendo at a previous job and knew its in-app guidance functionality could be used to provide both a direct and automated communication channel and a robust onboarding experience.

Pendo guides now play a central role in helping students select their degree program and enroll in courses. Then, guides targeted by segmenting user data are used to prompt active students who have not yet enrolled in their next course to do so.

“We’re able to use Pendo together with our CRM and use guides to say ‘Hey, you have a class coming up. Are you ready?’ or ‘You haven’t scheduled your class. Click here to get scheduled,’” Hilton says. “Our students have found those messages helpful to keep them on track.”

That proactive approach also saves time for the university’s academic advisors by alleviating the need to individually contact students to remind them to enroll and allowing them to focus more on helping students succeed in their studies.

“Many of our students are working adults. Single moms, single dads, married moms and dad both working,” Hilton says. “They have finite time, and still want to advance their education. With Pendo, we can communicate clearer, faster, and on their schedule. If I’m asleep, that’s OK—Pendo can still get the message out and have the same impact.”

Pendo has only become more useful in influencing positive student outcomes throughout their University of Phoenix journey, Hilton says.

Pendo guides are helping Hilton’s team onboard students from the university’s legacy platform to a new one, and Pendo analytics support R&D efforts across the organization, helping the university decide where to take the product next.

“Pendo is making the student journey more of a data-driven experience,” Hilton says. “It’s exciting to see cross-functional teams using Pendo to conduct critical research and development to understand which of all the things we could do are most beneficial to our students.”

Helping educators navigate COVID-19

When COVID-19 emerged, Pendo also provided an agile communication tool for the University of Phoenix.

In-app messaging allowed Hilton’s team to promote webinars about the pandemic and its effects on the university and resources available to students, parents, and teachers. “We were able to quickly use Pendo to get these messages out there,” Hilton says. “It allowed us to do our part during this pandemic, when people had so many questions and didn’t know where to go.”

The university’s Virtual Teaching Academy, a series of seminars designed to help K-12 teachers adapt to the changing circumstances, was among those resources, says Chief Academic Officer and Provost John Woods. The university made a large number of its courses freely available to help other educational institutions adjust their operations, and they partnered with Blackboard to create new ones. Thousands of teachers across the country signed up for the courses.

With the pivot to online education forced by the virus and its economic fallout leading to record unemployment, says Woods, the university’s mission is now more important than ever. “With the shift that K-12, higher education and working adults have had to make, we think we’re well positioned to be a partner in all of that,” he says. “We’ve been at this a long time.”

“As we go through each of these scenarios, we see a lot of forward progress with our students, and it makes me feel good, because it means these students are getting closer and closer to accomplishing their educational goals,” Hilton adds.

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