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Feature Spotlight

  1. New Feature: Flexible Payouts & Refund Reserve

    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!

  2. CourseStorm vs. Regpack: Which Is the Best Fit for Your Program?

    If you’re offering classes, Regpack is one of the dozens of tools that will let you take online registrations and payments. Yet, collecting registrations and taking payments are just the first steps. Successful education programs also build long-term student relationships and manage courses effectively. You need an online registration system that lets you do it all, while keeping the process simple.

    As a general registration software solution, Regpack does some of this well. Yet a savvy program director may wonder whether software serving half a dozen industries can compare to one specialized for education. To answer that question, we’ll compare Regpack head-to-head with CourseStorm’s course registration software.

    Who Uses Regpack?

    Some course providers use Regpack. So do some event planners, travel agents, and online service providers. Regpack is a diverse tool that offers registration services to all of these industries and more. The company has built software solutions for each industry based on the same framework.

    Regpack does offer course registration tools. They also offer registration services for group travel, conferences, and general online services, among other things. Presumably, they’ve customized the different solutions for each service area. As we’ve mentioned before, course registrations are different from event registrations, and the software should be too. 

    A general tool like Regpack, offering registration for group travel, events, and other online services, is missing some key features of a dedicated course registration tool like CourseStorm.

    You can see the impact by reading the language on their site. Sitewide language talks about clients and applicants rather than students. Because Regpack is a more general tool, it’s missing some useful features course providers might want, like a student portal or class pages.

    To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with offering multiple services for different audiences. It’s certainly possible to learn enough about each industry to offer a relevant solution. If you want specialized services, would you rather work with an acting coach, or a generalist who offers business coaching and soccer coaching as well?

    What Does Regpack Cost?

    Plans start at $125 per month per admin plus a 2.1% payment processing fee. This monthly fee-based model is a common one. It includes unlimited team use, projects, and users, although you’ll pay extra if you need additional administrators.

    Regpack’s monthly fees make sense only if you offer courses year-round. By contrast, CourseStorm users only pay when a student actually enrolls.

    Regpack’s pricing makes sense only if you offer courses year-round. Unfortunately, if your education program is seasonal, you’ll still need to pay for the months you’re not actively registering students. 

    By contrast, CourseStorm users only pay when a student actually enrolls. We don’t collect monthly fees or lock you into long-term commitments. Yet, you still get all the latest updates and unlimited support.

    Is Regpack Easy to Use?

    Regpack customers can’t agree on whether the software is easy to use. Some say it is intuitive, and others find it confusing or difficult to work with. Several reviews mention website glitches that result in lost information or user confusion.

    We have heard some concerns about customer service. Customers on review sites have said the service tends to be slow and is only available via email.

    The best way to settle this may be to look at a specific function that Regpack offers. The software includes some useful email tools. It lets you create custom emails to communicate with customers and guide them through the registration process. That’s great for managing the registration transaction, but less useful for keeping learners engaged over the long-term. 

    CourseStorm offers automatic email marketing, SMS messaging, and our new waiting list invite feature.

    CourseStorm offers all of those transactional emails plus automatic email marketing. Our system will keep track of the classes students have taken and email them with recommendations for upcoming classes of interest. It also automatically notifies students when a class is in danger of cancellation due to low enrollment. Integrated email and SMS messaging give you everything you need to manage student relationships during and after the transaction.

    CourseStorm vs. Regpack

    Regpack is web-based and offers plenty of registration tools including customized forms, group registration, and waiting lists. Yet it lacks some functions that are especially useful for education programs. A student portal, unlisted classes, and class pages are missing.

    Regpack vs. CourseStorm features comparedWe couldn’t list every feature that each program offers, so we chose the ones that seem most relevant to education programs. Our focus on education programs specifically means that CourseStorm offers all the features you need most. And, we’re always adding new ones: our new waiting list feature allows you to invite students to register with a link when a spot opens up in a class.

    Should You Choose Regpack or CourseStorm?

    Choosing the right software is about more than registration forms and payment processing. It comes down to the experience you want to create for your students. Instead of a one-size-fits-all solution, you’re looking for the best fit for your program. Here are a few things that can help simplify your search.

    • Consider the full student experience. Registration is just part of a long-term relationship with a learner. Think through each step of the learner journey and what you want their experience to be like. Then look for a solution that supports those goals.

    • List your must-have features. Make a list of the features that could support your program goals. Organize these into two buckets: must-have and nice-to-have. Any solution that doesn’t offer all of your must-haves really isn’t a solution at all.

    • Consider return-on-investment. Will you be charged per month, or per student? How does that pricing affect your bottom line, especially if your program is seasonal? Make sure to consider the value of any built-in tools as well.

    • Read reviews. Before you commit to a registration solution, look for reviews from real customers. Reviewer concerns and complaints can help you ask the right questions when talking to salespeople. If you can find another organization in your community that uses the software, that’s even better.

    Trying each solution for yourself may be the best way to decide. Both Regpack and CourseStorm offer free trials so you can test out setup and see what your students will experience. And if you’re considering Sawyer, see how CourseStorm compares to their features. Set up your free trial of CourseStorm today to see for yourself.

  3. New Feature: Waiting List Private Invites

    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!

  4. Why Programs Are Choosing CourseStorm Over Sawyer

    If you’re creating and selling classes for kids, you’re already an expert in the subject you teach. What may be less familiar is the process for marketing and selling courses. Turning to class marketplaces like Sawyer can seem like an easy solution to this challenge. Just put it on the platform and parents will be able to find it … right?

    The truth is that it’s easy to get lost on a course marketplace. Your brand fades into the background and the platform is front-and-center. What’s worse is that the platform takes a chunk of every transaction, with rates as high as 30% on top of standard transaction fees and booking fees. You’re trading a little convenience for a big cut in revenue. 

    If you’re thinking, there has to be another solution, you’re right. Let’s compare Sawyer head-to-head against CourseStorm’s online class registration system.

    Read more

  5. Sneak Peek: Universal Transfers

    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.

    Read more

  6. Simplify Your Work Life With Easy Software Integrations

    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. 

    Read more

  7. Why Programs Are Choosing CourseStorm Over Learning Stream

    Informal ed programs need a registration management solution that meets their needs and their budget. If you’re looking for a new registration management software solution, Learning Stream might be on your list of tools to check out. They promote themselves as your “registration management concierge.” Sounds fancy, right? 

    At first glance, Learning Stream has a lot to offer. While the platform includes plenty of features, it might be a more complex tool than most informal ed programs need. And complexity probably isn’t on your list of must-haves when it comes to choosing registration management software. To help you make an informed decision, we’re comparing Learning Stream head-to-head with CourseStorm’s simple registration management software. 

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  8. Coming This Year: Text Message Reminders

    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!

    Read more

  9. Two Features to Streamline Online Learning

    We recently announced we’d be helping CourseStorm customers more deeply integrate with online classesAs many of you are turning to new ways to accommodate your students, we are prioritizing CourseStorm feature updates that can make the biggest impact for you.

    To that end, today we’re announcing two new features — both designed to make running online classes easier: customizable receipt emails and file attachments

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  10. The 2019 CourseStorm Feature Roundup

    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.

    Read more

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