Free email templates to simplify communication with your students.

Best Practices

  1. Are You Confusing Your Customers? How to Craft Clearer Marketing Messages

    Jargon, buzzwords, industry speak — whatever you call it, most organizations have an internal language that doesn’t make sense to outsiders. That’s fine in a board meeting, but it can lead to confused customers when you’re marketing your classes. 

    Even the most down-to-earth organization can evolve its own language over time. What sounds like a perfectly clear offer to you can end up confusing your potential students. That’s a problem because people don’t buy what they can’t understand. 

    As part of our commitment to simplicity, we want to help you clarify your message. Let’s talk about how to notice when your message is confusing, and what you can do to fix it. 

    How to Tell if Customers Are Confused

    Most organizations could benefit from making their messaging clearer. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell that a message isn’t as clear as you thought. After all, you know what you mean. Keep an eye out for these four signals that you might have a messaging problem.

    1. People don’t seem to understand your offer. 
    2. You hear the same questions over and over.
    3. Registration is low overall (or for a specific class).
    4. You get no response from a normally engaged audience.

    Any of these four situations can point to a messaging problem. Stay alert for these signals, because most customers won’t reach out and say, “Hey, I didn’t understand your last email at all.” They’ll just ignore it. 

    Clearer messaging in your course marketing can lead to more engagement, fewer questions, and higher registration numbers.

    It’s up to you to notice that there’s a potential problem. Then you can test and see if clearer messaging leads to more engagement, fewer questions, and higher registration numbers. Before we get into how to do that, let’s consider some common sources of customer confusion. 

    Common Sources of Customer Confusion

    Any email, social media post, or class listing you publish has the potential to cause confusion. Everyone has their own perspective and context. So what’s perfectly clear to you might be as muddy as old paintbrush water to your students. Here are a few circumstances that often result in confused customers.

    Offering too many options in a single class listing or email. 
    You might think that offering lots of choices is the best way to meet student needs. In reality, too many choices can be overwhelming. If you’re offering multiple sessions or formats for the same class, set these up as unique course listings. 

    Assuming knowledge of your registration system or process. 
    You’ve been using the same system or process for a while, so you assume that everyone knows how to use it. Keep in mind that someone might have just discovered your program for the first time, and they won’t know anything about how it works. So you have to tell them. Include clear directions on where and how to register.

    Offering too many options, assuming people know how to register, and using unfamiliar jargon or language are all common sources of customer confusion.

    Sharing non-essential details in the class listing. 
    You don’t want to assume knowledge, but you also don’t want to bombard students with too much information. Think about which information they need to know up front, and what can wait until the first class. For example, the time and location of your class are essential, but you can wait until the first day to tell them that they’ll need to bring a photo of themselves to the third session.

    Using unconventional language in headings and descriptions.
    You may have strong opinions about how your industry should work. Sometimes that is reflected in the language you use. You might think that we should stop talking about “art” and start exploring creative play, but parents looking for an art class for their child may skip right past your listing for a creative play class because they don’t immediately understand what it means. 

    Besides, using common words and phrases helps people discover your classes. Try to use the words and phrases people are most likely to type into a search engine when looking for classes like yours.

    Using confusing language anywhere. 
    Jargon, acronyms, and overly formal language can confuse potential registrants. The word “dramaturgy” may be correct, but inviting students to a “playwriting” class is more straightforward. Unless you’re offering an advanced course, keep the language simple and accessible. 

    Are You Confusing Your Customers? Chart of 5 problems and solutions

    How to Fix Your Messaging Problem

    If you suspect you have a messaging problem, take action. The longer you delay, the more students are likely to miss out on your classes. Here’s a four-step process to help. 

    Step 1: Identify the source of the confusion using the list above.

    Step 2: Rewrite or redesign your message for clarity.

    Step 3: Talk to students and ask for feedback on the changes.

    Step 4: Monitor your results.

    The best way to tell if your changes worked is to track the number of questions and registrations you receive. If questions decrease and registrations increase, you’ve probably made your message clearer. 

    “We’ve increased enrollments and eliminated nearly all the phone calls we used to receive from confused parents.” – a CourseStorm customer

    By using CourseStorm, Princeton Academy of Art has reduced the time they previously spent managing enrollment by 80% and increased enrollments in their classes. In addition, “We’ve eliminated nearly all the phone calls we used to receive from confused parents,” they shared.

    One Last Tip to Eliminate Customer Confusion

    A convoluted registration process can confuse customers as quickly as poor messaging. CourseStorm’s integrated online registration and payment platform keeps registration simple. Registrants can easily fill out your registration form, pay for the class, and even get class meeting reminders all on one simple platform. 

    To see how easy it is, start your free trial of CourseStorm today.

  2. How Much Should a Class Cost? A Simple Pricing Guide

    It can be difficult to put a price on a learning opportunity. You want your classes to be accessible to as many students as possible, but you also need to cover your costs. The price you set should acknowledge the value of the offering without giving students sticker shock. 

    Finding the balance can be tricky, which is why we’ve simplified things with this class pricing guide. While we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all answer for what to charge, we can walk you through what to consider when setting class prices. 

    3-Step Class Pricing Guide

    To make class pricing simpler, we’ve broken the process down into three steps. These steps apply to every type of class or organization. At the end of this pricing guide, you’ll find recommendations for classes offered by nonprofits, different class formats, and special strategies.

    Step 1:  Calculate Your Overhead Plus Profit Margin

    Start by figuring out how much it will cost to offer the class. This includes some obvious things like the cost of materials, but also some less obvious things like the cost of marketing the class. 

    You may have to make some informed estimates here. The good news is that once you’ve done this, you can use similar figures for every class you offer. 

    Add up your:

    • Class materials
    • Instructor remuneration

    Then include a percentage of your:

    • Facilities and utilities
    • Marketing
    • Administration
    • Registration and student communication

    Add all this up and divide by the number of learners you expect to register for the class. This number represents the absolute minimum you can charge in most cases. (We’ll cover the exception in the Special Circumstance section below.) If your organization is for-profit, add in the profit margin you would like to make on the class. Most organizations aim for between 5% and 20% of the cost.

    For example: If a class costs you $20 per student and you want to make a 10% profit, you’ll add $20 + (20 x .10) = $22

    To make it easy, here’s our customizable Class Pricing Guide Calculator you can modify for your own use. 

    If you prefer to use Excel, you can download a copy of the calculator

    Screenshot of CourseStorm's Class Pricing Guide Calculator

    Step 2: Review the Market

    We don’t recommend copying another organization’s pricing structure. You don’t know enough about their business operations to guess if their strategy will work for you. However, it’s still smart to look around at what others are doing. 

    If your price is much higher than others in your area, learners may not register. If it’s too much lower, they may worry that your class isn’t valuable. Check with others offering similar classes to see what they charge. 

    A perfect match would be:

    • In the same subject
    • Offered in your city or area
    • Serving the same population
    • Offered in the same format
    • With the same class size

    The reality is that you may not be able to find a perfect match. That’s probably a good thing, because it means that the need is not already filled by that other class.

    If you can’t find a perfect match comparison, look for classes:

    • At your local college or extension center
    • In related subjects
    • Offered in a city of similar size to yours
    • Serving different populations
    • In different formats
    • With different class sizes

    Note how the class differs from yours and how that might affect the price. For example, classes offered by colleges are often more expensive than those offered by community nonprofits.

    Step 3: Consider the Value Your Class Offers Learners

    Remember that people tend to see price as an indicator of value. In some cases, lowering the price can actually make your class seem less attractive. It may signal to learners that the class isn’t all that valuable. 

    Value can be hard to pin down, but in general, you want to consider:

    • What skills students will learn
    • Whether the class saves them time or money
    • If the class makes them more employable by giving them a certificate or credential
    • How the class can change their daily life
    • What might happen if they don’t take the class
    • Other ways they could learn this skill or gain this knowledge

    A few other factors can affect value, including the number of students per class. Bigger class sizes generally equal lower value. Instructor reputation can also play a role. For example, students may be willing to pay more to take a writing class from an award-winning author. 

    Adjusting the Pricing Guide for Special Circumstances

    If you’ve followed the three steps above, you should have a ballpark idea of what your pricing should be. If your organization is a nonprofit, offering online classes, or wants to attract more students, read on for extra guidance.

    Pricing Guide Considerations for Nonprofit Organizations

    When setting pricing, nonprofits should consider the purpose of their classes. If classes are core to your mission, you may want to make some classes free or charge a nominal fee. Some nonprofits offer classes that are an extension of their mission and can help to fund more essential functions. In that case, you’ll want to do more than just cover the cost of the class.

    In-Person Versus Online Classes

    Whether a class is online or in-person can impact the perceived value. Online classes may face more competition, since students have access to sites like Coursera, EdX and even YouTube. You may need to match these prices, or make an extra effort to prove why yours are more valuable than these large-scale offerings. 

    One way to show value is by marketing to students in your local area. Lean in to the idea that they’re supporting a community nonprofit or small business. If you have an office where they can call or walk in for support, that’s even better.

    Special Pricing to Attract More Students

    In some cases, low cost or even free classes can pay off for your program. They can encourage people to try your classes. Many dance, fitness, and yoga studios do this as a way to get more people to try out their offerings.

    If you choose to offer a loss leader class, pick it carefully. It should be an introductory level course that accurately represents what your program offers. You might even create a special survey or intro course for this purpose.

    Don’t Forget a Yearly Pricing Review!

    Remember that class pricing isn’t like a rotisserie oven, you can’t just set it and forget it. Do a pricing review every year or so to make sure your classes are still well-priced for the market and matched to the class value. 

    Review your prices every year to make sure your classes are still well-priced for the market and matched to the value they offer.

    If you think it might be time to raise your prices, don’t worry. We have a guide for that too. Learn how you can raise prices without upsetting students.

  3. CourseStorm Wrapped: Top Posts of 2023

    You’ve heard of Spotify Wrapped, where listeners get a recap of their favorite music of the past year? Well, consider this CourseStorm Wrapped — a look at our top 5 most-read blog posts of the year. 

    Arts nonprofits and other organizations turn to us for help in growing and managing their education programs. These were our top 5 blog posts of the year.

    We serve organizations offering visual and performing arts classes, summer camps and afterschool enrichment programs, workforce training and community education. Many of our customers are arts nonprofits. They look to CourseStorm for assistance in growing and managing their programs. Our top posts give insights into some of the challenges and opportunities for these organizations, and how we can help. 

    How to Cancel a Class Without Upsetting Students

    This blog post is consistently at the top of the list. Why? Sometimes you have to cancel a class. Maybe the instructor is sick or the weather isn’t cooperating. Sometimes enrollment for the class is low and you can’t justify the time and cost of running it. Whatever the reason, you want to cancel the class without upsetting students who have already enrolled and causing them to seek out classes elsewhere. 

    We help you minimize the impact of class cancellations with tips and even an email template. 

    It’s important to know that sometimes the cause of a class cancellation is a poor-fit registration system. If you’re taking registrations manually, people could be slipping through the cracks. Or the problem may be a repetitive and time-consuming registration process for parents signing up multiple kids, or not offering payment plans for high-cost classes. CourseStorm automates and streamlines all of these things, eliminating many unnecessary reasons to cancel a class. 

    How to Write a Course Description: Examples & Templates

    We get it. Not everyone is a writer. And describing a course in an enticing way in just a few sentences is harder than it seems. So it’s not surprising that this “how to” article is so popular. We give you a list of best practices and examples of course descriptions that convert searchers into signups. Plus we share a course description template you can use to punch up your own course offerings. 

    CourseStorm has facilitated over 1 million connections to education for our customers, so we know what gets students to click “Register now!” Subscribe to our blog so you can get helpful tips and templates like this delivered right to your inbox. 

    5 Email Templates to Help You Engage Students

    Similar to writing course descriptions, crafting an email that gets people to take action is harder than it seems. So it’s no surprise that many of the visitors to our blog are looking for this info. Whether you’re sending a class recommendation to an existing student, a reminder to a new registrant, or another type of email, these templates will help you do it faster and easier.

    Sending the right email at the right time can encourage students to act, strengthen the relationship, and help you gather valuable feedback. Want to have these emails and more at your fingertips for when you need them? Download our email templates package and start saving time while connecting with students. 

    A popular feature of CourseStorm is the ability to send automated marketing emails that generate additional revenue for your education program without any extra work.

    6 Benefits of Enrichment Classes for All Ages

    In addition to our “how to” articles, readers liked this post about the positive benefits of non-credit educational offerings for both kids and adults. We know that people who prioritize lifelong learning seek out enrichment classes for personal growth, to build new skills, or connect with others in their community. 

    Of course, knowing the benefits of enrichment classes is one thing. Spreading the word about them is another. Help learners and community members see the value of your program by sharing these benefits in your marketing and course promotion. Not only could it help you sell more classes, it can also show your commitment to the community. 

    12 Arts and Culture Magazines Worth Recommending to Students

    Rounding out our top 5 most popular posts of 2023 was this one, featuring a dozen picks for print and digital publications dedicated to arts and culture. With their beautiful photography and curated content, these magazines provide a tangible way to explore cultural trends and learn about art. 

    Teaching artists can use them as the starting point for a lesson plan or discussion or simply read them for pleasure to discover up-and-coming artists, learn about exhibitions and events, and explore new perspectives.

    Coming Soon: A New Report for Arts Organizations

    The past several years have greatly impacted the arts and culture world. Anyone offering classes in the arts was forced to rethink their strategy. Many of those who succeeded were CourseStorm customers. In the New Year, we will be publishing an exclusive report to help arts education programs make data-informed decisions about how to save time, when to schedule classes, and how to grow their revenue.

    Subscribe to our blog to be the first to find out when our new report is available in 2024!

  4. 4 Reasons Not to Use Google Forms for Class Registration

    You had some good reasons for choosing Google Forms for class registration. You already know how to use the tool. Besides, it’s free, and nonprofit arts organizations are always looking to stretch the budget. So at first glance it seems like Google Forms is an okay solution, but it comes with hidden costs you might not have considered. 

    Google Forms is a great solution for some things, but it’s not ideal for class registration.

    Let’s be clear: there’s nothing wrong with Google Forms in general. It’s a great free solution for a quick survey or student feedback form. We’ve used it ourselves many times. But when it comes to class registration, your learners deserve better.

    1. The Form Is Just One Small Part of the Registration Process

    Your class registration form is just one small part of a complete course registration system. You also need a course catalog where people can discover your classes. When a learner registers, you need payment processing tools to collect their payment. After they’ve registered, they’ll ideally be able to use a student portal to manage their registration. 

    On the back end, you need reports that can help you understand registration trends. Your instructors could benefit from class tools that let them take attendance and quickly email everyone who enrolled in a class. Of course, security and data protection are essential too. 

    If your only goal was to collect information, a Google Form would do the job, but class registration is a more complex process. The right registration tools can make all the difference. 

    2. Free Tools Can Cost a Lot In Labor

    By now you may be thinking, “I agree with all that, but Google Forms is free.” That’s a great point. Nonprofits need to be responsible stewards of grant and donation funds. You don’t want to add to overhead and administrative costs if you don’t have to.

    However, there are times when spending some money up front can save your budget over time. As part of the Google Workspace suite, Google Forms is free for individuals and nonprofits. (Businesses pay around $12 a month.) Unfortunately, free tools can cost more in labor and hurt the student experience. 

    Google Forms doesn’t naturally integrate with your payment processing, course catalog, or donor management systems. Someone will have to organize and enter all of that data by hand. Every time a learner’s information is recopied, you introduce the possibility of errors. Missed payments and transposed phone numbers can cause headaches for everyone involved.

    You might even cancel a class unnecessarily because the roster wasn’t updated in real time and you thought you didn’t have enough students.

    Plus, if learners need to change their registration, add a friend, or ask a question, they have to call or email. Now you have a staff member or volunteer fielding calls instead of spending their time on service and creative tasks that can’t be automated. 

    3. Nobody Likes the Payment Matching Game

    Unless all of your classes are free, you’ll need to collect a payment for each registration. With Google Forms, you’ll need a third-party payment processor. There are plenty to choose from. The problem starts when you have a bunch of payments in one document and a bunch of registrations in another.

    Then someone — usually your already busy volunteer bookkeeper — has to manually match each payment to the right registration. They get to solve puzzles like “does this payment from Katie Smith’s credit card go with the registration for Jane Smith or the one for Steve Smith?” Maybe it’s actually for Tom Johnson.

    Some organizations skip this whole mess by asking learners to bring cash or checks to class. That might sound like a solution, but really it just passes the buck. Now instructors are responsible for handling money and tracking payments. What do they do if someone shows up without payment? You’ve put them in the awkward position of turning students away.

    4. Google Forms Are Not Made for Class Registration

    We’ve already talked about class rosters. Google Forms can dump all of the form responses into a spreadsheet. From there it’s up to you to organize that information. If you’re taking registrations for multiple classes, or multiple class sections, you may be sifting through a lot of data to find what you want. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to print a detailed class roster with the click of a button? 

    Now imagine you have a really popular class. It’s generated a ton of interest and people are signing up faster than you can process them. What happens when the class is full? This is a common situation for many arts education programs, yet Google Forms has no way to set seat limits. People can just keep registering until you turn off the form.

    With Google Forms, class rosters and waitlists need to be managed manually, and group registrations aren’t an option.

    If you want to create a waitlist in Google Forms, you’ll need to manage it manually. This could lead to some pretty uncomfortable phone calls with people who already paid, only to learn there’s no room in the class for them. Seat limit warnings and waitlists should be part of any class registration system. 

    Then there’s the group registration problem. If a parent has two children and wants to sign them both up for a class, they’ll have to fill out the form twice. If a group of four friends wants to sign up together, they each have to complete their own registration. Group registration would make classes more appealing to parents, couples, and groups.

    Google Forms vs CourseStorm - features comparison

    Simplify Registration With the Google Forms Alternative

    CourseStorm’s streamlined student registration and payment system is the smart Google Forms alternative. It includes class rosters, low enrollment warnings, and waiting lists. Group registration and student portals make it easy for customers to manage their registration. 

    Integrated payment processing means nobody has to play the payment matching game. Your course catalog seamlessly connects with the registration system. We take data security seriously with encryption, 2-factor authentication, and PCI-compliant systems.

    Our pricing is designed to help your organization thrive. So we don’t charge you an annual membership fee or monthly subscription. You’ll only pay when students actually register. This is ideal for smaller organizations, seasonal organizations, and anyone who wants to pay only for what they get rather than betting that they’ll get enough registrations to offset the cost. 

    Plus, our registration software integrates with common donor management software like Little Green Light and PatronManager. We’re adding new features and integrations all the time. Each one is carefully chosen to make registration easier and help your nonprofit fulfill its mission. Start your free trial today and see why CourseStorm is the smart Google Forms alternative for course registration.

  5. How to Collect and Use Student Feedback to Build Better Programs

    Requests for feedback show up on menus, in marketing emails, and even on the back of long-haul trucks. They pop up anywhere organizations interact with the general public. Your education program should be no exception. Collecting student feedback can help you improve your programs and better support your learners. 

    Most people recognize that feedback is important. What may be less clear is how to collect student feedback and what to do once you have it. Some people also worry about asking for feedback too often or how to handle negative feedback. Here is everything you need to know to create an effective feedback funnel for your education program. 

    Student Feedback: Your Most Valuable Resource

    Feedback can do three important things. First, it gives you information to make decisions about your program and class offerings. Feedback can help you measure progress toward student satisfaction goals. It can also show you where there’s room for improvement in your classes or registration process.

    Only about 4% of customers will tell you if they’re unhappy. Asking students for feedback helps you catch and fix issues early and increases loyalty.

    Second, asking for feedback helps you catch issues early. Many students won’t complain about small irritations, but they might decide to register somewhere else next time. In fact, only about 4% of dissatisfied customers will tell you they’re unhappy. Specifically requesting feedback can help increase that percentage so you can do something about it.

    Third, feedback helps strengthen relationships between programs and learners. A study by Harvard Business Review found that customers were more loyal after being asked for feedback. Just asking for their opinion shows students you care about them and what they have to say.

    Student Feedback Flowchart: 5 steps to collect & use feedback

    Setting Feedback Goals

    Clearly defining your reason to get feedback will help you craft an approach that will provide you with the best information. Get clear on what you want to know and why you want to know it. Here are some questions that feedback can help answer:

    • Why are we not getting the repeat students that we expect?
    • How can we increase student referrals?
    • Why do we have higher class registrations on specific days?
    • Why are students enrolling in our program vs. other programs?
    • How do our tuition and fees compare to our students’ expectations?
    • How do we compare to other competing activities in our area?
    • Are we meeting our students’ needs?
    • What’s the overall satisfaction level with our current program?
    • Should we stop offering this specific class, or are there things we can do to improve it?

    Being clear about what you want to know can help you avoid overwhelming students with too many unrelated questions. 

    Two Broad Types of Student Feedback

    You can gather two broad types of feedback: Solicited and unsolicited. Both are useful in different ways and combining them will often lead to the most accurate insights. 

    Unsolicited feedback is the thoughts or feelings your students share without being asked. You get this feedback by:

    • Watching how students behave
    • Monitoring social media and third-party review sites
    • Tracking customer engagement and retention
    • Listening to student comments 

    Relying exclusively on spontaneous feedback can mean you only hear the extremes. Students are more likely to speak up when they’re either delighted or angry. For a more nuanced look, create opportunities for intentional sharing.

    Solicited feedback is information you collect in a structured way by asking customers for their insights. You get this feedback by: 

    How to Collect Student Feedback

    Students invited to give feedback should be told why they should participate, how long the process will take, and how their feedback will be used. Follow these best practices for optimum results: 

    1. Ask a mix of focused and broad questions

    A survey or feedback form should offer a real opportunity for students to share their experience and opinions. Asking a mix of focused and broad questions helps you find answers to specific questions, but also creates an opening for students to share what’s on their minds.

    Focused question: On a scale of 1 to 5, how easy was our registration process? 

    Broad question: What could we do better? 

    Broad questions help you collect feedback you might otherwise miss. For example, you may wonder about whether you’re offering the right classes, but students are more concerned about the timing of those classes.

    2. Request consent to share

    Feedback forms and surveys can sometimes deliver useful gems that could become testimonials. If you hope to use feedback in marketing materials, ask for consent. 

    Consent to share: Do you give us permission to use your survey responses in print and online  marketing materials for the purposes of promoting our courses and programs?

    While we’re talking about consent, make sure that respondents know who will see the information and how it will be used. Let them know who will have direct access to the results.

    3. Gather demographic data

    Demographic data can reveal whether you’re reaching your target audience. It may also help you flag diversity and inclusion issues. Ask some basic questions about the person giving feedback so you have context for their opinions.

    Basic demographics: age, race, income level, gender, employment, level of education

    Targeted demographics: disabilities, veteran status, location, family and dependents, housing situation, primary language

    You don’t need to ask all of these questions on every survey. Pick and choose the ones that align with your goals and information needs.

    Tools for Collecting Feedback 

    Course evaluations – Used to collect feedback about a specific course or class. Course evaluation questions ask about the class content, instructor, teaching methods, and assignments. You can use online tools like Google Forms or printed evaluations handed out in class.

    Customer feedback form – Used to collect feedback about the customer experience. These forms might ask about ease of registration, pricing, service, or other elements related to the transaction. You can use Google Forms, or build these questions directly into your registration forms.

    Social media polls – Used to collect information from the general public. These are useful for deciding whether to offer a class or getting to know your audience. Various social media platforms allow you to create polls. Using the built-in tools is usually more effective than a DIY solution.

    Interviews – Used to gather more in-depth information from specific students. Interviews can be labor-intensive, but may also reveal more nuanced details. Prepare questions in advance and make sure to take notes or record the conversation.

    What to Do With All That Feedback Data

    Start by organizing your data. Enter all of the responses into a spreadsheet. Many of the online survey forms will do this for you automatically. Make sure to clean up any duplicate or missing data. Then rank or otherwise organize data into logical groupings. You might split positive and negative data or group it by customer demographics.

    Next, look for patterns. Do you see themes coming up repeatedly? Are there some questions that people tend to skip? Look for trends in demographics as well as responses. You might also want to highlight answers that are particularly strong. 

    Then, create visualizations. Make charts, graphs, or highlight sheets to make this data useful for your whole team. Some online survey tools have templates that can help with data visualizations.  

    How to Use Student Feedback to Improve Programs

    If you gather feedback, but don’t use it, students will stop answering your questions. Student feedback is only valuable if you apply it. 

    Identify which feedback you plan to act on. Some problems can be easily solved with a new tool or messaging, others require a bigger investment. Discuss what’s possible, then identify strategies and timelines.

    Don’t forget to tell your students what you’re up to. Showing them how their feedback is used can build trust and make them more likely to respond in the future. That kind of transparency creates loyalty, the greatest gift an enrollment-based program can have. Here’s an example of how PrimeLife Arts Learning created a promotional video from student feedback they collected.

    Now that you know how to collect and use student feedback, use our customizable course evaluation template to get started gathering feedback that can improve your classes.

  6. Run a Summer Arts Camp? Now’s the Time to Set Yourself Up for Success Next Year

    Many of the most popular summer camps for kids are those run by children’s theaters, arts organizations, and community colleges. Whether it’s a theater camp, art classes for kids, or other summer art programs, day camps in the arts tend to be highly in demand for kids and parents alike.  

    Why are we talking about summer camps now, when many kids have just gone back to school? Because now is the time to review your summer arts camp registration process, while it’s fresh in your mind. Did it go smoothly or was your staff overwhelmed? Did you have lots of returning students, or were people frustrated that they couldn’t get a spot? 

    Now’s the time to set yourself up for success—for your program and your customers— before summer camp registration season rolls around again.

    How you handle summer camp registration can have a big impact on your staff, your customers, and whether or not you fill your camps with satisfied, returning customers year after year. Now’s the time to set yourself up for success next year. Summer camp registration season will be here again before you know it! 

    The Challenges of Seasonal Programs Like Summer Arts Camps

    Some arts organizations run programs all year round. These could be weekly classes, afterschool enrichment programs, or other types of educational offerings. You may take registrations for these programs on a rolling basis. Or you might add an additional session of a popular class—say, a Saturday watercolor class as well as a weeknight class. 

    Summer camps require a different registration process than other classes. Parents may be signing up multiple children months in advance and competing for limited spots. There also tends to be more paperwork involved.

    Summer camps, on the other hand, require a different registration process. Parents are generally signing up their child or several children many months in advance. And time is of the essence, since registrants can be competing for limited spots. 

    After all, an arts camp may have only so many pottery wheels or 3D printers. Some of the best summer camps for teens are performing arts camps. (In fact, many famous actors got their start that way.) But a theater camp may cap registrations at a certain number to ensure that every participant gets a spot on the stage, if they’re putting on a production. 

    And because they are for children and teens, all-day summer camps tend to have more involved paperwork than an hour-long class—like medical forms, emergency contacts, supply lists, etc. All of these factors mean that it’s critical to have a registration system that meets all your needs, both on the administrative side and the customer side. 

    What’s in It for Me? Registration Benefits for Both Programs and Customers

    From our years of serving customers who offer theater camps, art classes for kids, and other summer art programs, we know that most organizations run their programs as close to cost as possible. They don’t want to pay a monthly fee for expensive software they may only use a few months a year. And they want features that actually help them and the customers they’re serving.

    Whether you use CourseStorm, another summer camp registration software, or a different tool, here is a breakdown of three key ways you can leverage registration for your summer arts camp to benefit both your organization and your customers. 

    How Your Summer Art Camp Registration Can Benefit Customers and Your Program

    Offering Early Registration as a Membership Incentive  

    Many community theaters and arts organizations offer memberships to the public. In exchange for an annual membership fee, members get certain benefits, such as discounts and early access to purchase tickets or register for classes. 

    This can be a major selling point for parents who want to send their children to popular summer camps and programs in your community. If you have an in-demand summer arts program that fills up every year, let people know that by becoming a member they’ll be able to jump the line and register early. If you offer members a discounted tuition rate, that’s important to mention in your advertising and outreach, too. 

    Perks for customers: Early access to summer camp registration; discounted tuition

    Perks for programs: New memberships and full summer camp programs 

    Promoting Online Registration as a Differentiator 

    If you consider online registration a convenience, not a perk that can attract new customers, you may want to rethink that from the customer perspective. 

    Laramie County Community College (LCCC) in Wyoming runs several week-long summer youth programs on campus, on everything from arts and crafts to sports and fitness. The summer camps are so popular that most are completely full within the first 6 hours of the day registration opens. “Some classes fill within the first 5 minutes,” said program manager Christie Goertel. 

    Because LCCC uses CourseStorm to take online registrations, returning parents have a major advantage. They have already created an account with all of their child’s info included from last time, and they may have even saved their credit card in the system. 

    “Theoretically, if there’s a returning parent and they know what camps they want and they’ve done it before, they may be done in less than 4 minutes,” said Goertel. Don’t underestimate the motivation of a parent crossing “summer camp registration” off their to-do list in March!  

    Perks for customers: Ease and speed of summer camp registration

    Perks for programs: Eases administrative burden; may make phone banks, long lines, and extra staff to handle registration unnecessary 

    Making Waitlists Work the Way They Should  

    Again, you may be thinking of camp waiting lists as a necessary administrative detail or even a deterrent to customers. After all, why would a parent add their name to a waiting list when these lists are often black holes? We can all think of a time we gave our name to someone over the phone while waiting for a coveted appointment slot or other opening, only to never hear from them again. 

    This is where an automated waiting list can make all the difference. With CourseStorm, for example, customers trying to register for a class or camp session that’s already full will be prompted to add their name to the waitlist. 

    Then, if a spot opens up, CourseStorm users can choose to send people on the waitlist an automatic email that expires after a certain amount of time. The person on the waiting list can either click to register immediately, or decline the invite, which passes to the next person on the list. 

    Either way, it’s a great way to show customers that you haven’t forgotten about them. And it gives them hope that maybe they will get a desired spot in a popular camp or class. 

    Perks for customers: Better experience that can encourage more registrations

    Perks for programs: Eases administrative burden by automating the entire waitlist process

    Help People Find Your Summer Arts Camp Online

    For more specific tips on optimizing your summer camp listings on your website along with info on policies and payments, see our related post, Is Your Summer Camp Registration System Ready for Next Season?

  7. Is Your Registration System Costing You Students?

    We get it: you’re busy. Maybe your organization is understaffed. And keeping costs low is always important. Given CourseStorm’s many years of experience in the education business, we understand the stressors that many community and arts education programs face. 

    We also know that if you don’t have a functional, streamlined registration system, it can actually cost you money and time. An inconvenient registration process can also negatively affect the student experience, and cost you repeat customers and referrals. 

    Every day, we hear from customers what’s working for them and what’s not when it comes to course registrations. Here are some real-life examples.

    Every day, we hear from our customers what’s working for them and what’s not when it comes to taking registrations for their courses. Here are 5 ways that your existing registration system may not be serving you, and what you can do about it. 

    5 Registration System Mistakes You May Be Making

    These real-life examples from our customers show a few of the ways an inefficient registration process can cause problems for your educational program’s staff as well as for people who are trying to register for your classes. 

    1. You are taking registrations manually. 

    If you’ve always had people sign up in person or over the phone, you may not see any reason to change what seems to be working just fine. However, the manual method can actually cost you students—or a whole class. 

    “We would cancel classes sometimes because we thought they were undersold and they really weren’t.” – Kit Burke-Smith, Garrison Art Center

    Before CourseStorm, Garrison Art Center in New York would manually update Google Sheets to keep track of registrations. “We used to sometimes oversell a class or miss a registration that came in over the phone or in person. And so we would cancel classes sometimes because we thought they were undersold and they really weren’t,” said Kit Burke-Smith, education director. Now, signups that come in via their CourseStorm registration website are automatically tracked in the software and class rosters are updated in real-time. 

    2. The administrative burden of your registration process is too high. 

    If you run a large seasonal program like a summer camp, you may have a lot of people trying to register at once. That’s the case for Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, which runs several very popular summer youth programs on campus. Each spring, up to 500 students register for classes that sometimes sell out in minutes.

    One customer streamlined a lengthy process that required training volunteers to run a phone bank to take registrations. Now, anyone can register online by themselves.

    Program manager Christie Goertel used to spend weeks preparing for registration day, including training staff volunteers. “I had 5 people in the office doing in-person registrations and a phone bank with 10 people answering phones.” She learned the hard way that only 49 callers can be placed on hold or it will crash the phone system for the entire campus. 

    Since switching to online registration with CourseStorm, “I don’t have to do any of that anymore,” she said. “It’s taken a huge weight off my office.” The online registration platform allows people to register whenever they want, even at the same time, without staff having to facilitate it. 

    3. Your registration system doesn’t integrate with your other systems. 

    Several of our customers in the arts use donor management platform Little Green Light. So they may have someone’s contact information if they, say, attended an event or made a charitable donation. But anyone who registered for a class had to be tracked in a different system. 

    CourseStorm combines all of that information. Our integration with Little Green Light means that data flows smoothly between the two platforms. That eliminates the need for tedious data entry and automates confirmation emails sent to each contact. 

    4. You use an online registration platform, but it’s made for events. 

    Not every arts education program is still using a manual registration process. Some programs do use an online registration tool. However, if you’re using event registration software like Evite, Cvent, or RegFox, for example, you’re missing out on the benefits of software specifically designed for course registration. 

    Registrants’ information is not saved, and you usually can’t email students directly (unless you pay additional fees). There’s a downside for the students as well if you use software for events vs. course registration. They can’t access course-specific information, contact instructors directly, or get on a waitlist. Course registration software like CourseStorm has all of these features and more. 

    5. You take online payments, but the platform is made for retail. 

    Similarly, some programs already allow students to pay for classes online. But many times this process is set up as a retail transaction. This means that someone registering for a class has to enter a shipping address (irrelevant) and can’t easily change their payment method or choose a payment plan (inconvenient).

    Again, course registration software improves the process not only for the student but also for your organization. For instance, CourseStorm’s universal transfers feature makes it easy to transfer a student’s payment to a different class, and refunds, waiting lists and payment plans are built into the software as well. 

    Download our new case study and find out how Garrison Art Center grew enrollments by more than 100%

    What If Our Students Don’t Know How to Use an Online Registration System? 

    Finally, let’s debunk a fear you might have about switching to an online registration system. For example, organizations that teach classes for older learners sometimes assume that online registration is not for them. Some even have firsthand examples of customers who have said they can’t or don’t want to navigate an online registration system. 

    To address the first concern, older people today are more tech-savvy than ever. Pew Research Center found that seniors’ use of technology has increased significantly over the past decade. Of U.S. adults ages 50 to 64, 96% of use the internet, as do 75% of those 65 and older. The pandemic also proved that seniors will adopt technology when it benefits them. Video calls, online learning, and telehealth became part of everyday life for people of all ages. 

    Older people are more tech-savvy than ever. But if some students are resistant to registering online, you can do it for them and still get the benefits of the technology.

    But what if you have people who are not computer-savvy enough to register for your classes online, like some of our customers do? Burke-Smith has a workaround for these students: “I do it for them.” 

    By entering the registration info into CourseStorm—whether the student is providing it in person or over the phone—an organization still gets all the benefits of the software on their end. Instructors have access to their class lists, registration numbers can be monitored in real time, they can send marketing emails, and more. 

    To find out more about how CourseStorm helped Garrison Art Center grow their classes and enrollments by more than 100%, download our case study.

  8. Smart Student Retention Strategies to Keep Learners Coming Back to Your Classes

    Keeping the customers you have is easier than attracting new ones. People who have previously enrolled in your classes already know and trust you. Offering high-quality courses is a good start, but this alone is not enough to create student loyalty. You also need smart student retention strategies to keep learners — and their friends and families — coming back for more. 

    It all comes down to each person’s experience with your organization. The right student retention strategies can keep them engaged from registration through follow-up. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to enroll in your program. Then, offer support and a sense of community to keep them coming back.

    We’re sharing some useful student retention strategies we’ve discovered over years of helping learning experience providers like you. 

    Through our years helping learning experience providers register and retain students, we’ve discovered some useful student retention strategies. Now we’re sharing them with you. 

    But first, we need to make an important point: every program needs to think about student loyalty, even if you offer courses learners are unlikely to repeat.

    Student Retention Strategies Matter, Even If You Offer One-Off Courses

    When you provide learning experiences, it’s not always obvious why student loyalty is important. You might be teaching professional development courses that students take only once in their career. Maybe you offer a retirement planning class, and people only plan for retirement once. This can make it feel like student retention strategies aren’t necessary for you. 

    Retention is about more than repeat business. It’s also about creating a community of people who will happily recommend you to others.

    However, even programs that offer one-off classes can benefit from thinking about student loyalty. Retention is about more than repeat business, it’s also about building a community of people who will happily recommend you to friends, family, and coworkers. 

    If you have done the work of creating a high-quality experience, students are more likely to recommend your program. Increase the odds even more by putting smart student retention strategies in place.

    Smart Student Retention Strategies: 6 Tips for Education Programs

    6 Student Retention Strategies to Apply Today

    1. Set Clear Expectations

    Some surprises are good. Others, not so much. Offering a better learning experience than students expected is a good surprise. In general, though, students should know what to expect when they enroll in your classes. 

    Tell them upfront about any prerequisites, the expected time commitment, and what tools or materials they’ll need. If you don’t clearly communicate these details, some students might drop out part way through a class. Others might power through, but choose not to register for another class or recommend your program. 

    Well-designed course catalogs and registration forms can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. Make sure you include all the details that students need to succeed.

    2. Make Registration Easy

    People tend to avoid unpleasant tasks. The more time-consuming and difficult something is, the more likely you are to put it off until tomorrow. Even if you offer an exceptional class experience, students may not re-enroll if they know the registration process will be difficult. 

    Make class registration as easy as possible by simplifying registration forms, offering online registration, and integrating secure payment options. When you make registration simple, students are more likely to enroll again and again. 

    Features like mobile registration, online payments, and friends and family registration are more than conveniences, they’re student retention strategies. 

    3. Create Feelings of Belonging to Keep Student Retention High

    Your third grade teacher was right: People won’t remember what you say, only how you made them feel. Everyone wants to feel like they belong. You can improve student retention by building a learning community. This is especially important for online classes where students may not get the chance to socialize. 

    You can use social media or email to: 

    • Post instructor profiles
    • Share snapshots of classes in session
    • Show off the results of a session (artworks from an art class, food from a cooking class, shelters built during a survival class)
    • Ask students to share photos of themselves using their new skills in their community
    • Host Q&As or free information sessions
    • Publicly congratulate students on their successes

    Even online students tend to enroll in courses that are close to home. By claiming your place in the community, you invite students to engage more deeply with your programs. 

    4. Show Students What to Do Next

    Adult ed and enrichment classes are often designed to stand alone. A student could take just one course and learn the basics about cooking, accounting, or wilderness survival. But if you want to keep students coming back you need to show them how your classes fit together. 

    Highlight connections between courses by: 

    • Grouping classes together in your course catalog 
    • Emailing current students a list of related classes based on their interests
    • Asking students in feedback surveys if they’d like information about related classes
    • Asking instructors to mention upcoming classes to their current students

    To improve student retention, you need to let students know what other classes you offer.

    5. Keep the Conversation Going

    Asking someone for their feedback helps build trust, especially if you demonstrate a real willingness to change. At or near the end of each class, invite students to fill out an evaluation form. Not only does this show students that you care about their opinion, it also makes you aware of opportunities to improve your courses. 

    When the class is over, your student retention strategies kick into high gear. Ask students to opt-in to email marketing about upcoming courses. That way you can email them when your new course catalog comes out or when registration opens for classes that might interest them.

    More programs are also starting to interact with students via text message. They’re a powerful student retention strategy because they give you a direct line to your learners. 

    And remember that social media is more than a way to remind people about upcoming classes. You can use it to stay connected with learners and build community. 

    6. Remove Barriers to Student Retention

    Think about what might actively prevent learners from registering. An amazing learning experience might as well not exist if students can’t access it. So think about what might prevent them from finishing a course or re-enrolling. 

    Pro Tip: Money can be a barrier for many students. Help minimize this worry by offering payment plans for big-ticket courses. You might also show your appreciation to returning students by offering special discounts. Also, consider group discounts or family discounts to encourage referrals. 

    The Most Powerful Student Retention Strategy

    Ultimately, the most powerful way to improve student retention is to offer high-quality classes worth coming back for. Build an engaged community of learners, keep them informed about your other course offerings, and make it easy for students to register — and re-register, so they keep coming back class after class.

    Among CourseStorm customers, 33% of registrations come from returning students. Learn more insights like this in our free report. 

    Don’t let a focus on new students keep you from nurturing relationships with former and current students. Among CourseStorm customer programs, 33% of registrations come from returning students. Balance your marketing efforts between existing and prospective students. Read more surprising insights like this in our free State of Informal Learning Report.

  9. How to Offer Course Scheduling That Works Best for Your Learners

    People who register for your courses may be excited about your classes and eager to learn. Yet they also have lives full of other demands and responsibilities. If your course scheduling doesn’t fit learner needs, registrations may stay lower than you hoped. An inconvenient class time can keep even the most interested student from enrolling. 

    Unfortunately, most of the advice on course scheduling is written for colleges and universities. It assumes that students have to take certain classes and are enrolled either full- or part-time. But learners in enrichment, arts and culture, and adult education programs have different needs.

    Course scheduling for college students is different from scheduling courses adult learners take for fun or personal development. Most people won’t rearrange their life to take a class that’s inconvenient. 

    Most of these learners take classes for fun or personal development. In most cases, they won’t rearrange their life just to take a class that’s inconvenient or hard to access. The upshot is that programs need to offer classes on days and times that work for learners. Doing that takes some research, here’s how to get started.

    Course Scheduling Tips for Education Programs from CourseStorm

    How to Tell if Your Course Schedule Needs an Overhaul

    Keep in mind that some problems can’t be solved with course scheduling. If you’re not getting visitors to your website or course catalog, focus on promoting courses. If potential students drop out part way through your registration process, you might need a simpler student registration system. But if all of that looks good and registration is still low, class times might be the issue.

    Keep an eye out for warning signs that your course scheduling isn’t working. You might have an issue if: 

    • People seem excited about your classes but don’t enroll. 
    • Learners complain about the class meeting times.
    • Students often show up late, leave early, or skip classes due to schedule conflicts. 

    These are the clearest signs of a problem with your course scheduling. You can also look at data to spot trends that might be less readily apparent.

    Look for Trends in Course Scheduling Data

    Direct feedback from learners is a clear indicator that something needs to change, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the people who aren’t signing up at all. Registration data can help you recognize course scheduling issues that might keep people from registering.

    Review your registration data and ask:

    • Do classes offered in certain time-slots attract fewer students? 
    • Do classes at certain times get clicks or inquiries that don’t convert?
    • Are registrations low for multiple course offerings at a specific time or on a specific day?

    Have you had to cancel a class due to low enrollment? If so, your course scheduling may be to blame. Consider offering the class on a different day or time.

    CourseStorm users can export registration data directly to Excel from CourseStorm. When you review your data, look for classes that got canceled or have low enrollment. Are they clustered around particular times of day? Also, look at classes that have a waitlist. Are there any commonalities in the timing of those high-performing classes?

    Ask Students for Their Course Scheduling Preferences

    Some programs hesitate to ask current, former and potential students about their course scheduling preferences. They believe that gathering feedback is difficult or that students won’t answer anyway. However, a direct ask really is the best way to get the information you’re looking for, and it can be easy with the right tools. 

    3 ways to survey students about course scheduling preferences: 

    1. Email your survey to learners and prospects.
    2. Send out an SMS text message to your contact list.
    3. Widen your sample pool by posting a poll on social media.

    Make sure your survey question is focused enough that learners want to answer it. A question like “When would you attend classes?” is too vague. Try something like, “What time of day would you prefer to attend a theater arts class?” Then offer a few options they can choose from.

    An open-ended question might feel most inclusive, but it’s also less likely to yield useful answers. Format your question as a multiple-choice to keep people from overthinking their response. For extra insight, invite people to leave comments that explain their answers.

    Course Scheduling Survey Template

    We’ve developed a customizable Google form that you can use to survey your students about their course scheduling preferences. Simply click on the link below to copy the form, modify it to meet your needs, and send it to students to gather feedback:

    Course Scheduling Survey Template

    CourseStorm's Student Survey_Course Scheduling

    Consider Possible Scheduling Conflicts 

    Are there certain times of day or days of the week when traffic is high or other events are happening? Consider how you might schedule around these.

    Even if your classes are online, most of your learners will come from your town and the surrounding area. So check the town calendar for possible conflicts. Obviously, you can’t avoid every conflict, but if concerts regularly play in your town on Thursdays, you may find enrollment dips for Thursday classes. Adjust your course scheduling accordingly. 

    If your learners are parents or K-12 students, you’ll need to schedule classes around school calendars. We recommend offering classes immediately after school and increasing your options in the summer.

    Older learners could be retired and able to attend classes during the daytime, but some may prefer not to drive at night. We recommend early morning and midafternoon classes to reach this audience.

    Learners who work full-time might prefer mid-to-late evening classes that give them time to grab dinner after work. We recommend starting classes for these learners around 6 in the evening. You can also schedule classes on the weekend.

    Offer Alternative Class Formats

    You may not be able to schedule the perfect class times for every student, but you can offer them more choices. On-demand and online classes can help you reach students with unusual schedules. 

    For maximum flexibility, consider asynchronous online classes. The on-demand nature of these classes removes all course scheduling concerns.  Students can access the course material when and where they want to. 

    Although there are drawbacks to these kinds of courses, alternative formats can make your classes more accessible to more students.

    Simple Registration for Every Course Schedule

    Offering the right course at the right time is a good start. Next, you need to register students. That’s where CourseStorm comes in.

    Having the right registration software in place is important to help your program run more efficiently and register more students. Choosing the right option for your education program can be a challenge so we researched how to compare registration software options to help you find the perfect fit for your program.

  10. Creative Aging: Why Arts Educators Need to Engage Older Learners Now

    You’re never too old to learn something new, and it’s never too late to embrace your creativity. That’s the idea behind creative aging: art programs for older adults that enhance their quality of life through music, visual arts, and other activities. 

    If you’re an arts organization, library, community center, or anyone offering educational programs to the community and you are not serving older adult learners, you’re missing a huge opportunity. 

    By 2030, older adults (aged 55+) will be the dominant age demographic in the United States. By 2034, older adults will outnumber children under age 18 for the first time in U.S. history, according to Census Bureau projections. 

    Heather Ikemire, executive director of Lifetime Arts

    “If you want to meet the needs of your community, if you want to engage new audiences and attract new funding, it makes a lot of sense to be thinking about how to provide quality arts learning experiences for older people,” said Heather Ikemire, executive director of the nonprofit arts service organization Lifetime Arts

    But first, there are a few things you should know about reaching an audience of older learners. 

    What Is Creative Aging?

    In case you haven’t heard it before, the term “creative aging” describes the use of arts and cultural activities to improve the quality of life for older people, Ikemire explained. The field encompasses many different approaches and is practiced all over the world. Lifetime Arts recently hosted the 2023 International Creative Aging Summit, which had 400 participants from 26 countries. 

    “While the approaches to the work vary, in its broadest sense it’s recognizing the power of creative expression—engaging older people in activities centered on creative and social engagement, and the power that has in terms of supporting quality of life, the process of aging well, and also transforming cultural mindsets around what it means to age,” said Ikemire. 

    Creative aging programming can happen in multiple disciplines (music, film, visual art), in multiple spaces (libraries, museums, senior centers), and remotely or in person.

    Creative aging programming can happen in multiple disciplines, including music, film, theater, and visual arts, and in multiple spaces, such as libraries, museums, veterans homes, and more. Classes for older adults can happen remotely as well as in person, and can be free, paid, or subsidized programs. 

    Key Characteristics of Older Adult Learners 

    Older people are living longer and seeking meaningful ways to connect and continue to learn skills. But a watercolor class for adults aged 55+ should not be identical to a class for school-aged students. There are several factors that differentiate older learners from their younger counterparts:

    Adult learners are autonomous and self-directed. “They vote with their feet,” as Ikemire put it. Educational programming has to speak to them and their interests or they’ll go find something else. The best way to offer programs they want? Ask them! “It’s incredibly important to listen to the older adults in your community,” Ikemire advises arts organizations. 

    Older people are goal-oriented. They’re not just looking for a hobby or something to fill the time. They want to learn and develop skills. The creative aging model used by Lifetime Arts focuses on professionally led instructional arts programming designed to build artistic skills over time. Participants have an opportunity to practice something and then keep applying it so they can see their skills improve.

    They are seeking connection. There’s a reason creative arts programming typically takes place over a period of many weeks rather than one-time drop-in sessions. “There is evidence that shows that building social connection over time can actually lead to significant physical and mental health benefits for older people,” said Ikemire. Art classes for the elderly help to reduce social isolation and loneliness, among other advantages.

    In a recent survey, 42% of U.S. adults aged 55+ said they were seeking more social connection in their lives.

    A recent report on aging surveyed more than 28,000 U.S. adults aged 55+ and found that 42% said they were seeking more social connection in their lives. That percentage increased with age.

    They may have barriers to participation. These may include physical limitations, such as hearing or vision impairments or an inability to stand for long periods. Transportation could be an issue, or time of day if they don’t drive at night. Or, there might be another popular class in the community that meets at the same time as yours. 

    Seniors are not necessarily tech-averse. If you’re offering an online class, or even online registration for an in-person class, you might assume that rules out older learners. That’s not necessarily the case. While some seniors may be unfamiliar with technology, many are more tech-savvy than ever, thanks to the pandemic. That said, there are some best practices for working with seniors that we cover in our post, 6 Tips for Teaching Tech to Older Learners

    Opportunities for New Revenue Streams

    Offering arts programs for seniors not only benefits older learners in a community, but also can boost the bottom lines of the education programs. “It can be a really wonderful earned revenue stream for some organizations,” said Ikemire.

    Many arts centers, museums, and theaters are empty during the day. This is especially true for an arts organization that has primarily been serving younger people with weekend classes and afterschool programs. Welcoming older learners into your space during daytime hours is a good way to bring in new audiences. 

    “When you see creative arts programming in action, it’s joyful. It’s incredibly powerful.” – Ikemire

    Ultimately, these programs thrive when there’s institutional buy-in. A big part of making that happen is seeing these programs in action. Invite your staff, your board members, or other stakeholders to see creative arts programming in action. 

    “When you see it, it’s joyful. You get it right away. It’s incredibly powerful,” said Ikemire. “And there are incredible opportunities to grow audiences, to increase your budget, to find the funders for your work, and also to spark intergenerational connections between young people and older people.”

    Examples of Successful Creative Aging Programs

    When done right, arts programming for seniors can boost revenue and student loyalty. Here are a couple examples of successful programs for older learners.

    Two people painting at Rumriver Art Center in Anoka, MN, which has thriving creative aging programs

    Rumriver Art Center, Anoka, MN. Photo credit: Larry Weinberg

    Rumriver Art Center

    Previously only providing youth classes, Rumriver Art Center in Minnesota decided to expand their program offerings to include arts education opportunities for adults 55+. These programs attracted so much interest that they had to add more classes and staff. 

    Over the course of two years, the center’s creative aging programming budget increased from zero to over 25% of their annual budget. Many of the students later became teachers, volunteers, and even employees after attending classes.

    Forever Learning Institute

    Another example of a thriving education program dedicated solely to older adults is the Forever Learning Institute (FLI) in South Bend, Indiana. For 45 years, FLI has engaged older learners through a robust catalog of enrichment classes covering all sorts of topics including dance, technology, literature, and foreign languages. The classes are taught by an all-volunteer faculty. 

    FLI is home to the Silvertones, a musical glee club for ages 50+, that performs at various community locations throughout the year, as well as the Solid Silver Dancers, who learn and perform dances from the 40s, 50s, 60s, disco, Broadway, and more. The course description for that class describes it as “a dance workout that is easy on the knees and made especially for us seniors. But still fun and sassy!” 

    It’s worth noting that courses that incorporate movement are especially important for older learners. Numerous medical studies have shown that the more physically active you are as you age, the healthier you’ll be for longer.

    Creative Aging Resources for Arts Organizations

    There are numerous resources for organizations interested in learning about and implementing creative aging programming, many of them free. The best place to start is Lifetime Arts’ website, The Creative Aging Resource. The site includes articles, case studies, presentations, and research on a wide range of topics related to arts education for older populations. 

    Lifetime Arts also offers Creative Aging Foundations On Demand, a free, self-paced online course designed for institutions and individuals seeking to run arts programming for older adults. The course includes instructional videos, practical program design principles, and information on developing partnerships with other community organizations serving older adults.

    “Creativity is a human right for all of us throughout our lifespans.” – Ikemire

    “This is a time for us as mission-driven organizations to think about how we can provide programming that can really enable all people, including older adults, to age well, to age in community, and to still contribute,” said Ikemire. “Creativity is a human right for all of us throughout our lifespans.”

    CourseStorm counts a number of community education and arts organizations among our customers. Our mission is to streamline access to education to empower personal growth. Learn more about us and get in touch today to see how we can help your organization.

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