Hey everyone, it’s Matt again. In this month’s installment of CourseStorm Product updates, I wanted to switch gears a little bit and talk about the moves we’re making behind the scenes to create an even better experience for you and your students, so that you can continue to grow your impact in the world. Let’s dig in!
Welcome Ben Moore!
To start, I’m very pleased to announce the newest member of our Product team, Software Engineering Manager, Ben Moore! Ben hails from Maryland and has a long history of building software, managing teams, and leveraging his experiences in entrepreneurship. We know that the team will benefit from Ben’s wealth of experience and talent in these areas. Welcome to the team, Ben!
As CourseStorm’s Head of Product, Ben’s arrival is especially exciting for me! Not only am I thrilled to see the leadership and structure that Ben will bring to the team, but his addition also frees me up to spend much more time working directly with customers to deeply absorb the issues you face day-to-day and help our team to produce software, content, and training that helps you grow.
Over the next several months, I’ll be working hand-in-hand with leaders throughout the company to make connections with many of you.
We want to hear:
What problems are you facing right now that we can help with?
How do you think we’re doing with our software, support, and training?
How can we help you grow your impact in the world?
Where do you think we should go next?
CourseStorm’s mission has always been to streamline access to education. We want to connect as many students as possible with the education they need to pursue their own personal and professional growth. And we want to create software that eliminates any barrier we can to help create that connection. With your help, we can focus our effort on the places where we can make the greatest possible impact.
We’re incredibly excited about the years ahead and the positive influence we can help you make in your communities and beyond. We can’t wait to learn more from all of you in the coming months!
As we come to the end of another year, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past year and share some of our successes at CourseStorm. It’s been an exciting year for our company! We’ve made some great strides in achieving our mission of streamlining access to your educational classes and programs. Read on to learn more about the changes we’ve made this year!
Everyone here at CourseStorm hopes you had a great October! The team here has been hard at work launching new features and updates and we plan to continue that habit with another feature launch before the end of the year.
Text Message Reminders
It’s no secret that for years now, folks have been relying more and more on their mobile phones as their primary means of communication. Email is great, but nothing beats a nice, short text message for a quick notification.
So it gives me great pleasure to let you know that before the end of the year, we’ll be releasing automated, text message reminders for students!
Hot off the heels of our recent launches, I’m pleased to tell you about some upcoming releases in our pipeline, including a preview of one of the powerful new financial features I’ve been talking about.
I wanted to take a moment and give an update on some great new features we’ve been working on here at HQ. Some of these updates you’ll be seeing before the end of the month and for some other, larger updates we’ll be sharing more info throughout the coming months. It’s definitely an exciting and busy time for our team and we can’t wait to share it all with you!
“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” — Willa Cather
We have been carefully watching the effects that COVID-19 has had across the country, particularly on educational programs.
We understand the challenges that you’re working through: concerns about lost revenue, ongoing expenses, and what registration volume may look like for your organization over the near and medium-term.
While we can’t tell you when things will return to “normal,” we’re confident that normalcy will return. To that end, we’d like to share some strategies to help provide continuity for your organization and learning community over the coming weeks and months.
Instead of Cancelling
While your first reaction might be to cancel classes altogether, there are other options at your disposal that you may be overlooking.
#1: Don’t cancel, postpone
No one really wants a class to cancel. Not you, not the instructor, nor the students who were excited to attend. While they may be absent for the next few weeks during this crisis, their interest in class is unlikely to abate. If you can, consider postponing your classes instead of canceling, so that when things calm down, everyone can still get the class they were looking forward to. Postponing also allows you to keep more cash with your organization rather than refunding it all back to the student.
#2: Consider remote instruction
Follow the lead of many higher education institutions and consider temporarily shifting existing classes to remote instruction through video. Many classes and presentations can be live broadcast to attendees with affordable and accessible software solutions. From Vimeo or YouTube’s live streaming services to conferencing providers like Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.
For example, rather than cancel a show, one arts organization we follow is recording its spring youth drama performance and providing streaming video access to its ticket holders. A great, creative solution to the problem at hand!
If you must cancel
We understand. Here are some tips to help reduce the impact to your program.
#1 Use promo codes
Instead of refunds, offer customers credit for future classes to replace the class they’re unable to take. As mentioned above, this helps your business keep cash on hand which is more important than ever when facing unprecedented circumstances.
#2: Convert to donation
Give your students the chance to donate the cost of their class to your program rather than take a refund.
#3: Increase your online class offerings
Consider adding classes to your program that are already designed for independent learning. For community education programs, ed2go offers a suite of excellent online classes you can resell at your program.
#4: Call your insurance agent
Your organization may have insurance coverage that can help reduce the effect of the disruption (ask about coverage from “event insurance” or “business disruption insurance”). It’s certainly worth checking with your provider.
#5: Use this downtime to prepare for the upswing
While your program may be quiet over the coming weeks, this is a perfect time to start planning your next move. After lots of time stuck indoors, students will be jumping at the chance to make up for lost time. With proper planning, you can be sure to be there right when they need you.
Keep in mind that decisions made today don’t have to be final or absolute. It’s ok to make a decision that affects your immediate needs without trying to plan for the entire future. Use this opportunity to run an experiment and try something new. If it works, you may just end up with a new tool in your toolbelt!
More resources to come
While all this continues to unfold, we at CourseStorm will be researching best practices and providing resources to help affected programs make the best of a hard situation.
We genuinely respect that this situation is causing a financial burden for many programs and we’re working on a plan to help lessen the financial burden for our most heavily affected clients. We will be sharing more information about our plans in the coming week.
Until then, even if we’re technically isolated, we will all be pulling together, learning together, and adapting together.
As members of CourseStorm’s Product Team, we’re always looking forward to what we can build next to make managing registrations even simpler and make our user experience even better for programs around the country. But it’s also important to take a minute and look back at what we’ve been able to accomplish thanks to feedback and input from CourseStorm users!
Here’s a recap of some of the top updates we released in 2019.
We often talk with representatives from programs that use CourseStorm, and a lot of times we notice trends regardless of the size or type of organization. Two of these have been on my mind lately:
It’s really important to advertise your classes if you want to maximize your registrations.
People who work at educational programs are really busy and really don’t want to spend time advertising their classes. There’s so much else to do!
Seeing them together makes the geeky engineer gears in my brain start to turn. Is there a way we can help on both counts? We believe the answer is a resounding yes.
Today we’re announcing the beta program of our latest feature: automatic email marketing. If you choose to enable this new feature on your site, we’ll periodically send an email to selected students advertising classes that we believe will be of interest to them. We use a number of factors to create personalized recommendations for each individual student, and we let students start a registration for their next class with just a couple of clicks.
The best part? There’s nothing you have to do. We’ll choose the best times to send emails and the best matches for students, meaning you can spend your time making your program and your classes the best they can be.
We’re excited to do everything we can to help your program grow and thrive. We hope automatic email marketing will be one more way to help you increase enrollments!
UPDATE: We’re currently in the process of rolling out automatic email marketing to all CourseStorm sites. If you’d like to learn more about how to enable it in your catalog, visit our help site.
At CourseStorm we want to do everything we can to connect people with education, removing whatever roadblocks we can for students and for programs. As organizations that run workshops, camps, or advanced classes know, one of those hurdles is often the cost of enrollment. That’s why we’ve always been really proud of CourseStorm’s effortless payment plans – and why today we’re excited to announce that they’re better than ever.
Starting today, programs have two options for payment plans. You can still use the impossibly simple payment plan CourseStorm users know and love: enter a deposit and a date by which you’d like all funds paid and we’ll handle the rest – no scheduling or math required! But if you’d like fine-grained control, opt for a new custom payment schedule. We’ve kept it simple for you: we just need a date to start payments, an amount to pay, and whether you’d like the payments weekly or monthly. That’s it!
Today’s update has to do with one of the best parts of the online class registration process: getting paid! We’ve just launched site-specific descriptions for bank statements that make managing catalog networks easier than ever.
CourseStorm has built-in support for networks of sites. This option is great for anywhere that has different programs or departments: each program can have its own catalog while still allowing all classes to be combined under a single umbrella site. All kinds of organizations – from hospitals to community colleges to training programs – use CourseStorm networks to manage registrations for all of their locations or divisions. But when payouts started rolling in, it was a little confusing to match which payout came from which site.