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Author Archives: Matt James

About Matt James

Matt has over 20 years of experience in the software industry. As the founder or co-founder of four software companies, he comprehensively understands technology, design, operations, finance, sales, marketing, and customer service. Matt co-founded CourseStorm to connect learners to classes where they can gain education a la carte to enrich their lives through art classes, prepare for a new job, or level up their existing skills.
  1. New Feature: Attendance Tracking

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    Hot off the heels of our last release offering instructors a new mobile administration area, we’re pleased to announce that we’re rolling out a beta of a new attendance tracking feature in CourseStorm!

    Using this new feature, your instructors will be able to take attendance for their classes right from class via their mobile phones, tablets, or computers. No paper forms required!

    How Does it Work?

    With the Attendance Tracking feature engaged, you and your instructors will see a new link in the class roster screen called “Attendance.” Just tap this link and you’ll be able to see past attendance records, edit them, and create new ones.

    To create a new attendance record, just tap the “Add Attendance” button in the top left corner of the screen. From here, you’ll see an alphabetical list of your students in this class.

    Tap on a student once to set them as “Attended.” Tap a second time to set them as “Did not attend” and, if you want to start over again, tap a third time to show “Not Set.”

    When you’ve reached the bottom of the list, just tap “Save Changes” and you’re done!

    By default, we set the day of class to the current day, but if you ever need to change the date of class, just tap on the date at the top of the screen and set a new one.

    This new feature will be available in both the regular administration area as well as the new instructor administration area, giving you and your instructors the ability to create, view, and update attendance records as needed!

    Launching Soon

    We’re pleased to say that the new Attendance Tracking feature will be deployed as a beta before the end of the year! After a short beta period, we will then make it available to all of our Pro and Enterprise plan customers. As always, subscribe to our blog to stay updated!

  2. New Feature: Mobile Instructor Admin Area

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    In our infinite quest to help you and your staff save time, we’re excited to share that your instructors will soon be able to see their student rosters and communicate with their students on the go.

    How Does It Work?

    Your instructors will log in using the same link that they always have. The difference is that they’ll now be taken to a brand new administration area built for speed and that can be used seamlessly on mobile devices.

    In fact, they can even treat CourseStorm like an app by saving the page right to their home screen on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

    We’re also happy to share that the mobile version of this administration area comes with no sacrifices — all the same great features your instructors have come to expect are still here, including the ability to message their class rosters, now right from their mobile device.

    Launching Soon

    This new version will replace our existing Instructor Admin area for all customers with access to that feature and is available in our Pro plan for new customers. It will be going live in the next couple of weeks! Subscribe to our blog to get notified about this and other new features.

    More to Come

    We’re excited to put this new version of the Instructor Administration area into the hands of all of you. With this update as a foundation, we have another great new follow-on feature launching soon that we think you’re really going to love as well. Stay tuned!

  3. New Feature: Flexible Payouts & Refund Reserve

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    We’re pleased to announce a new CourseStorm feature that adds new flexibility for payouts and refunds that we’ll be rolling out in the next several weeks!

    How does it work?

    The Problem

    In order to maximize your ability to refund a charge, we’ve historically only paid out funds for a class the Monday after it begins. This meant that you were guaranteed to have the funds in your CourseStorm account to cover the refund should one come in before the class began.

    One issue with this approach, however, is that many education providers take registrations far in advance of their classes and need the cash early to buy supplies, rent space, and pay their instructors.

    Beyond that, it has always been just plain complicated to explain the payout process to new customers. We knew there was a better way.

    The Solution

    We’re very excited to announce that our crack team of Engineers has devised a way to solve this problem using a new feature we call Refund Reserve.

    This feature allows you to get monthly or weekly payouts, but also control how much money you’d like to leave in your account to cover refunds at any time.

    Let’s say you’re a program that offers summer classes and you open for registrations in February. You can use this new feature to get paid for last week’s registrations while still leaving a couple thousand dollars in the account for potential refunds. Then when the summer begins and you’re ready to clear out your account, it’s as simple as changing the Refund Reserve to $0 and your next payout will include all of your funds.

    Even better, because your CourseStorm account is so much more flexible, you can also now refund a class at any time, regardless of if the original funds have been released to you or not. If you have money in your account, that money can be used for refunds. It’s as simple as that!

    🚀 Launching Soon

    These new features will be the default for all new customers starting in October. If you’re an existing CourseStorm customer and are interested in using these new abilities, please reach out and we can discuss your options for migration.

    One More Thing

    Although you can’t see it on the surface, there’s a really important detail about this feature behind the scenes: it’s built on a brand new financial system that lays the groundwork for many more features which create greater flexibility in transaction handling!

    With this new underpinning, we can begin to tackle support for scholarships, mixed payment methods (ie, paying part credit card and part check), account credits, and more. We’re very excited for everything this foundation unlocks for the future and can’t wait to release more features that help you save even more time!

    Thank you!

    We’d like to thank all of our customers who helped us define and beta test this brand new system. Your feedback has been invaluable in the creation of these great new features!

    And a special thank you goes out to our initial testers at Finger Lakes Community College in New York and Civic Theatre of Allentown in Pennsylvania. Thanks for being on the vanguard!

  4. New Feature: Waiting List Private Invites

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    Today, we’re pleased to announce the result of some fantastic work done by our CourseStorm summer interns (who we affectionately refer to as ⚡Team Lightning⚡)!

    These college students have been working directly with our customers to make CourseStorm’s waiting list features even better for all of you. They’ve used this time to deliver on an update that addresses one of the top opportunities we uncovered: improving the experience of enrolling students on the waiting list when a new seat opens up.

    The Problem

    As you may know, CourseStorm has always made signing up for and managing a waiting list really easy. As soon as a class fills up, the waiting list button turns on automatically so that you can solicit interest from other students. Those students, in turn, can sign up for the waiting list right on your site to be notified if a new seat or session opens up.

    Unfortunately, the administrator experience for contacting wait listers and signing them up has left something to be desired. Although administrators can easily convert waiting list entries to full registrations for a class, it can often be a challenge to get the students on the phone to collect the necessary information for registration.

    So, rather than use a slow, phone-based process, we decided to make things simpler and let administrators send private, expiring invites to select waiting list students and parents so that they can place the registrations themselves at their own convenience.


    How does it work?

    The process couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is find the waiting list student you’d like to offer the seat to and click “Send Invite…”. From there, you confirm the amount of time that the invite is valid and click the Send button.

    Your student or parent on the other side receives an email with a private link just for them that they can use to register right on your CourseStorm site. Or, if they no longer wish to take the spot, they can easily decline the invitation as well.

    Once they’ve made their choice, you receive an automatic notification. If they’ve registered for class, you and the instructor will receive a receipt just like normal for the new registration. If they’ve chosen to decline, you’ll receive a different notification letting you know that you can now move onto the next person on the waiting list.

    🚀 Launching Soon

    We will make this new update available to all CourseStorm customers in the next two weeks!

    Thank you!

    We want to give a huge thank you to Team Lightning for their fantastic work this Summer. They’re setting a high bar for all future internship teams!

    So thank you to Team Lightning Members: Mathew Mesfin, Kat Canavan, and Jack Hohl!

    In addition, we want to give a shout out to all of the great customers we worked with on this project. Your experience and feedback were invaluable to help our team uncover this excellent feature opportunity!

    Special thank you’s to:

    • Lynn and Whit from MaineHealth
    • Robin from DM Playhouse
    • Rose from Old Orchard Beach/Saco Adult and Community Education

    and all other customers who submitted Ballot Box requests related to this feature!

  5. Sneak Peek: Universal Transfers

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    Over the last couple of months, we’ve made 4 releases to our Universal Transfers beta program and have unlocked some great new functionality for those customers. It’s now impossibly simple to perform transfers between classes of different prices and have CourseStorm automate the necessary charges and refunds for those transfers.

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  6. AI-Powered Reporting

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    Hi everyone, Matt here!

    Today, I’m excited to give you a sneak peek into some cutting edge stuff we’ve been working on in the CourseStorm labs. Specifically—AI-powered reporting!

    We’ve begun to apply the latest in artificial intelligence technology to helping you solve day-to-day problems and we’ve been blown away with the results. I hope you agree! Read on to learn more and see the demo.

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  7. Universal Transfers Beta

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    Happy April everyone! The snow is finally melting up here in Maine and our team is excited to kick off another quarter with plans for some great new updates heading your way!

    Today, I’d love to give you an update on a new student transfer system we’re working on that will give you an even easier way to transfer students between classes in CourseStorm.

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  8. Simplify Your Work Life With Easy Software Integrations

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    Have you ever stopped to think about how software integration makes your life easier? For example, you can donate to a cause and seconds later invite your social media followers to do the same—without even leaving the thank-you screen.

    You can’t see it, but there’s an integration at work there, connecting the donation website to a social media platform. If you’ve never really stopped to think about how these processes work, that probably means they’re working well. The whole point of a software integration is to create automated workflows that you don’t have to think about.  

    Before you can put these useful automation tools to work for you, you’ll need to understand something about what they are and how they can help. 

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  9. CourseStorm Login Tips for Admins and Students

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    At CourseStorm, we’re always thinking about how to make our class registration software impossibly simple to use for education program managers and students. Our admin area lets staff and administrators log in to manage classes and registrations. Our student log in area allows students to change their contact information themselves, among other things.

    Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about CourseStorm logins and other common actions. 

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