Pathify Customer Story
The Beauty of a Centralized Digital Experience
The typical higher ed experience for students requires bouncing around various websites while trying to remember a series of different passwords. Until implementing Pathify, this too was an experience students dealt with at Concordia University Irvine.
In 2021, the new administration wanted a change, much to the reluctance of Deborah Lee, Sr. Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Concordia University Irvine. Today, Lee is one of Pathify’s most vocal advocates. At EDUCAUSE 2022, she became Pathify’s first customer ever to staff a booth at a trade show. She regularly serves as a reference and boasts about everything the Engagement Hub offers Concordia University Irvine’s students.
Looking for a better student portal
The Student Affairs department sought a mobile application capable of bringing students, faculty and staff together under a unified experience. In addition, they wanted the ability to integrate current systems while creating a single access point surfacing important information and simplifying the user experience.
While Lee and her team explored how other institutions tackled the digital ecosystem, they realized the importance of an approach more in line with student preferences.
“A few of our peer institutions with mobile applications didn’t have just one but multiple apps for students to download,” Lee said. “Each one did something different and we wanted to avoid that at all costs.”
Despite identifying a need for change, the path from prospective Pathify customer to an advocate was a long road. Lee dealt with several poor vendor experiences in the past and naturally became distrustful of anyone trying to sell her technology, regardless of how good it looked on paper.
“We are very leery of new products because we’ve been burned multiple times by different implementations,” Lee said. “There’s a bunch of softwares out there, but they never do what they tell you they’re going to do.”
Despite initial skepticism, the institution decided to try something different.
Concordia University Irvine researched solutions matching their vision and settled on Pathify. The Engagement Hub appealed to the institution because it spans both academics and students’ social lives. It also helps faculty and staff stay updated with everything happening on campus. For Concordia University Irvine, this is especially important for a tight-knit institution. The MyCUI app became a digital representation of their entire institutional experience and a way to stay engaged.
“One of my favorite parts about Pathify is how it combines all of our academic resources with our student involvement and engagement activities,” Jessica James, Assistant Director of Orientation and Student Activities said. “Our students find a club, event or activity simply by searching some keywords or phrases based on their interests. There’s no excuse anymore for missing important information.”
One of my favorite parts about Pathify is how it combines all of our academic resources with our student involvement and engagement activities. Our students find a club, event or activity simply by searching some keywords or phrases based on their interests. There’s no excuse anymore for missing important information.”
Assistant Director of Orientation and Student Activities
Everything Users Need in One Place
The majority of time an institution switches vendors, IT works with students on training and onboarding the new software to the rest of the student body.
The Engagement Hub alleviates the need for extra training because it pulls in similar information for all vendors of a specific system without changing the presentation layer. In Concordia University Irvine’s case, when it piloted Canvas with its graduate students, Pathify allowed students to view relevant information and get to their destination without needing to learn a new system.
Plus, with Pathify’s enhanced Canvas widget, students get what they need without needing to log into a separate system.
“Pathify’s integration pulls so much information out of the LMS, I don’t even see why people would bother logging in to the platform natively other than turning in an assignment,” Lee said.
“Students used to fumble around trying to find their ID card, then realize they didn’t have it and beg the person in front to let them in this one time,” Lee said.
Student athletes in particular benefit from the Digital Wallet. When they attend practice, most don’t bring any additional items beyond their cell phone. As a result, students previously struggled to make it from practice to the cafeteria before it closed because they had to make an extra stop to pick up their ID. Now, student athletes go straight from practice to the cafeteria with ample time to recharge before diving into their school work.
As mobile-first natives, students are drawn to Digital Wallet by its ease of use and utilization for activities such as buying a coffee or entering the library all from their mobile device. Digital Wallet also drives usage of Pathify’s app, which keeps students coming back to the Engagement Hub.
“The Digital Wallet is our most used feature of the app. About 90% of our usage is mobile, and that is probably because we have a Digital Wallet,” James said.
“The Digital Wallet is our most used feature of the app. About 90% of our usage is mobile, and that is probably because we have a Digital Wallet.“
If You Build It, Will They Come?
While the simplicity and ease of finding everything in one place should entice users, change is still difficult, according to Lee. There are a few ways for institutions to drive adoption, from making it easy to use to over-communicating about its existence and benefits.
“Prior to launching the app we pre-populated the content we anticipated students needing,” James said. “We uploaded every campus event scheduled at that point in time, including some of our academic calendar dates like the add or drop deadlines.”
In addition, making the experience fun keeps users coming back for more than just the basics. This includes app-exclusive content, contests and giveaways.
“You can drive engagement with giveaways, free food — college students love free things, getting gift cards,” James explained of Concordia University Irvine’s app-exclusive content. “We have our weekly newsletter, the Eagle Insider, which kind of summarizes everything happening on campus that week. Faculty and staff have access to this information as well.”
To spread awareness around MyCUI, the school trained its student leaders on the app, introduced it as a key tool during new student orientation and hosted tables at on-campus events where students downloaded the app and asked questions. They also made videos promoting MyCUI and how-to tutorials in addition to continuously talking about the platform so it stays top-of-mind.
“During my last Summer orientation event, I explained the Pathify app they’ll receive here and most I talked to already had the app downloaded,” James said. “It’s a lot easier to adopt Pathify now than it was with students who didn’t start with it initially and were a bit more hesitant to get on board.”
In January of 2023, Concordia University Irvine had one of its best months ever with over 2,600 active users logging into the Engagement Hub. Much of the traffic within MyCUI links to various academic widgets, a sign of student confidence in the platform as a one-stop.
However, it’s not only students adopting Pathify into their everyday student experience. Lee reports faculty and staff over time fully embraced the Engagement Hub with all resources nested within the platform. Now, instead of needing to bookmark a variety of links, employees view everything in one place.
“I don’t even know what the login pages look like for our different platforms, because they’re all under my Tools in MyCUI,” Lee said.
Consolidating resources under one single sign-on provider had a surprisingly positive benefit for Concordia University Irvine, resulting in unexpected savings for the institution. The Registrar’s Office discovered various DocuSign forms filled out by individuals not attending Concordia University Irvine due to them being publicly accessible on the website.
The e-signature provider’s subscription model charges for every form signed and costs the Registrar’s Office in unnecessary overhead. Once it moved the forms behind MyCUI, it not only protected the wrong users from accessing the office’s signature pages, but further prevented wasteful spending.
Driving adoption towards a singular platform is difficult. It’s why Lee recommends institutions remain patient while implementing new solutions on campus. The key to increasing usage is finding a way to draw students in and add touch points along the way to keep them engaged.
During my last Summer orientation event, I explained the Pathify app they’ll receive here and most I talked to already had the app downloaded. It’s a lot easier to adopt Pathify now than it was with students who didn’t start with it initially and were a bit more hesitant to get on board.”
Assistant Director of Orientation and Student Activities