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Distance Learning Pioneer Penn Foster Takes Top Honors For Its Groundbreaking Virtual Campus Underpinned By Jive Software

Jive customer wins ICMI's 2014 Global Contact Center Award for online student community enabling greater communication and collaboration among 77,000 students and staff

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Jive Software, Inc. (Nasdaq: JIVE) today announced that customer Penn Foster, a leader in career-focused online and hybrid education designed to address the skills gap in America, has won a coveted International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) 2014 Global Contact Center Award. Created by social business solutions partner 7Summits using the industry-leading JiveX community software platform, the Penn Foster Student  Community has dramatically improved student experience and engagement through greater collaboration with faculty, staff and peers while reducing email usage by 40 percent.

Penn Foster's Student Community, underpinned by JiveX, improved engagement through greater collaboration with faculty & students while reducing email usage by 40%

"Since its launch, the Penn Foster Student Community has evolved into an important fixture for both students and staff," said Mark Slayton, vice president of customer relations management, Penn Foster. "We continually hear from students how the community is an important part of their experience, providing them with the support from peers and faculty they need to progress in their studies and achieve their goals. It's gratifying that our Student Community has been recognized for being a game-changing educational resource for our students, while having a significant impact on our business."

Penn Foster created its online student community as a response to the school's rapidly growing enrollment and the rising cost-per-interaction between students and Penn Foster's staff and faculty. At the time, the school's communication avenues were limited to telephone, email and, to a lesser extent, chat.

The educational leader also faced challenges unique to its virtual campus environment. "As an online school, people can't visit our campus to touch and feel it," said Dara Warn, chief marketing officer, Penn Foster. "Our Student Community is completely open by design, so prospective students can see the different groups and understand how learning happens. This helps them realize there are real people behind Penn Foster – and enables a true human connection."

Initially launched in 2010 as "eCampus," the site allowed students to connect with peers to share experiences and tips, and meet other students in their same field of study. In 2012, Penn Foster upgraded the site to feature a wider variety of support services, including a community map for students to find others in their area with which to connect, polls, student blogs, organized discussions and groups by area of study, a calendar of events, documents and video links. In 2013, Penn Foster introduced the Bunchball gamification application to further increase engagement of its community members. One year after implementation, the new community reached 64,622 users – an increase of 200 percent. By the end of 2013, emails were reduced by more than 40 percent, and the cost per interaction dropped an average of $1.06 each year since 2010. 

The Penn Foster Student Community is underpinned by Jive's market-leading JiveX community platform, which enables companies to connect, communicate and collaborate with their customers and partners. "In an increasingly competitive market, forward-thinking higher education institutions such as Penn Foster are recognizing the power of establishing online communities to gain market share, and more deeply engage with current and prospective students and alumni," said Elisa Steele, executive vice president of marketing and products, Jive. "It's rewarding to witness the industry's continued recognition of Penn Foster's strategic JiveX deployment and the significant benefits it's delivering to both the business and its student community."

A longtime partner of Jive and a leading social business solutions provider, 7Summits designed the award-winning Penn Foster Student Community. "7Summits worked with Penn Foster to shape a true online campus, which allows students, faculty and staff to interact and collaborate across geographical boundaries," said Paul Stillmank, founder and CEO, 7Summits. "The success of the Penn Foster Community further reinforces the business value that we are unlocking for businesses with social technologies and paves the way for similar communities in the higher education space."

Founded in 1890, Penn Foster has been a leader in career-focused distance and hybrid learning for more than 100 years through its high school, career school and college. Through direct enrollment by students as well as partnerships with schools and businesses, more than 13 million people have taken Penn Foster-enabled courses to further their education debt-free and better position them for life success. Today, Penn Foster graduates 25,000 students yearly and enrolls more than 100,000 new students each year in programs designed to address the gap in middle skilled careers. For more information, visit

The ICMI Global Contact Center Awards program is the most comprehensive awards program dedicated to the customer management industry. To see a list of all 2014 award finalists and winners, please visit

About Jive Software

Jive (Nasdaq: JIVE) is the leading provider of modern communication and collaboration solutions for business. Recognized as a leader by the industry's top analyst firms in multiple categories, Jive enables employees, partners and customers to work better together. More information can be found at

About 7Summits

7Summits is a leading social business solutions provider, founded in 2009 to help companies engage customers, partners and employees to grow their business and become more fully networked enterprises. By partnering with premier technology companies like Jive, 7Summits creates comprehensive online communities that deliver top-line revenue growth and bottom-line productivity improvements. The company is a valued strategic partner of Fortune 500 companies and has received investment funding from Sverica International. 7Summits is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with an extended presence in Chicago, New York, Denver and Austin. For more information, please visit

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