The Worldwide Pathway to Success

The BYU-Pathway Worldwide program is a faith-based online learning resource that allows students of any educational background to seek higher learning opportunities. The Pathways program provides a series of certifications, empowering students to continue learning, continue growing, and gain career enhancing skills while working toward a full degree. 

Pathways has a strategic vision to change the face of education. They recognize (and so does SolutionStream) that there isn’t one right way to get an education. Often, test scores, accessibility, and environment keep learners from getting the education they need to monetize their skills. Consequently, many students go through life believing that higher education just isn’t for them. 

Pathways needed a system that fulfilled this vision; one that provided advisement services for higher education while not feeling too similar to the traditional education route that represents a struggle for many Pathways students. 

Specifically, Pathways needed: 

1) A system-wide assessment tool to guide current and prospective students through identifying which certifications align with their goals

2) A partner to collaborate, consult, and train their technical team to align the product with their vision

Because of SolutionStream’s extensive background in both e-commerce and educational systems, Pathways knew that our teams would have a greater ability to address user and accessibility needs than any other software consultants. 

Pathways needed a solution, and because they had a large user base with varied accessibility levels, they needed to focus every part of the project on their students.

As part of our expert services, SolutionStream gathered Pathways teams for a 4-day intensive design sprint workshop that we call a SolutionMap. 

The Pathways SolutionMap was one of the biggest workshops we have ever done. The size of the workshop presented its own challenge as multiple decision-makers involved in this goal-oriented process means more opinions about how the end-product should be. 

Throughout the SolutionMap, Pathways and SolutionStream were able to design the assessment tool through consistent, effective collaboration. Development was ready to start right away.

The first step was the usability phase. Students are always the priority at Pathways. Because of this, SolutionStream conducted extensive research and user testing to discover how current students interact with the system and its projected functions. The information gathered was compiled into user stories that inform any development decisions.

Next, our team gained architectural understanding of technical standards which allowed developers to build code in microservices infrastructure. This architectural analysis is a way for us to understand various API and seamlessly integrate the new with the old. 

The Pathways assessment tool needed to interact with third-party systems, so students not only get the results of their skills assessment, but are directed to which degree from a university is best for them. There is a common data layer that our developers worked with to access course catalogs, degree structures, and next steps, so the students' experience with the tool set them on a path toward a quality university education. 

Our integration phase also included any training necessary for Pathways employees to manage the tool after we are done. The assessment would have to be updated as certifications are added to the program, as well as adapted to integrate with other universities so in the future students have the ability to choose from multiple degrees. 

For this project, there were multiple stakeholders invested in the success of the Pathways program. Brigham Young University-Idaho was a significant stakeholder and one that SolutionStream had to frequently work with, as the assessment tool acted as a pipeline to BYU-I degrees.

This university already had their own systems in place for their students, and the administrative nature of this institution required SolutionStream to not only handle the coding and designs, but organization and business analysis as well. This analysis was essential to align our objectives with the university and the Pathways program. 

        Stakeholders also contributed to the design and branding decisions for this project. This presented a challenge, as many stakeholders were not involved in the product planning. Vital decisions presented late in the project lifecycle require us to be flexible, resilient, and communicative as we work with our clients to a common goal. 

        SolutionStream holds itself as an industry leader, and this comes from being open and willing to change when needed. We were able to communicate, collaborate, and understand new expectations for the project and create an end product that satisfied those invested in Pathways.  

The end product is called Pathway Connect and it does what it says quite literally: it connects students to the path that will work for them and guides them through graduating from a university. In the academic world, passion for education and the students is the first priority, but our clients felt that no one ever really listened to them. SolutionStream was able to listen and understand the desires and fears of Pathways’ leaders to create a better product. 

Pathways wanted the tool to fulfill an essential need for the students; something they would use on a regular basis. Working with SolutionStream enabled the Pathways team to be creative and actively contribute to the product result. Stakeholders were pleased with the product in the end: it proved, over and over, to be a vital part of a Pathways student experience.