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Feature Spotlight

  1. Staff Training Made Simple: How to Use CourseStorm to Empower Your Instructors

    Instructors are the lifeblood of your education program. These are the people who have the most direct connection with the learners who take your classes. Many of CourseStorm’s customers have told us that some of their instructors have cult-like followings of students who will take any class they teach. So training your instructors and teaching artists on the tools you use to run your organization makes sense. Here are some benefits of showing your teaching staff how to use CourseStorm. 

    Simple Access to Class Data

    Most teaching artists are creatives, not techies. That’s not to say they can’t use technology, but most artistic types would rather practice their art or dream up new projects for their students than figure out a complicated software platform.

    “Not only is CourseStorm easy for me to use, but it’s also really easy for me to train a teaching artist to use.” – A theatre customer

    Another thing we hear frequently from our customers is that learning CourseStorm’s class registration software takes so little time compared to others.

    Elana Kepner, education director at Marin Shakespeare Company said, “I’ve worked for other arts organizations, so I can speak from the perspective of various kinds of registration. I really appreciate that not only is CourseStorm easy for me to use, but it’s also really easy for me to teach a teaching artist to use without taking a huge chunk out of our training time so that they can access information as they need it.”

    In fact, CourseStorm training for instructors basically consists of setting them up with a staff login and giving them access to their class data. That’s it. Once instructors are logged in, they can:

    • View the class(es) they are scheduled to teach 
    • View class rosters of enrolled students
    • Print or export rosters into Excel
    • View individual student info
    • Email students 
    • View class waiting list, if any
    • View cancelled registrations, if any

    Here’s a short video that shows what your instructors see when they login to CourseStorm:

    CourseStorm | FYI: What Your Instructors See

    Don’t worry about instructors “messing up” anything in the system or on your course website. They can only access the information above. They can’t add, edit, or delete any data. They also can’t perform any financial transactions. 

    Empower Instructors By Training Them on How to Use CourseStorm

    One of the key benefits of CourseStorm is that it saves programs time. Nonprofits are notorious for having to do more with less, and our class registration software eases the administrative burden for office staff, volunteers, instructors, and teaching artists. Registrations are completed online, rather than over the phone or by email.

    Data integrates seamlessly with your donor management system, rather than requiring time-consuming and tedious data entry. 

    CourseStorm’s benefits extend to teaching artists as well. When they can access their class rosters and student data directly, it cuts out the middleman and empowers instructors to manage their class themselves. They can email their class to send them a supply list or remind them of an upcoming schedule change, for example. 

    Two of CourseStorm’s newest features are designed to make things even easier for instructors: mobile instructor admin and attendance tracking.

    CourseStorm is always adding new features, and two of our newest ones are designed to make things even easier for instructors. Our new mobile instructor admin area gives teaching artists the ability to access everything they need on the go, since we know not many of them are sitting behind a desk all day. This new version will replace our existing instructor admin area for all customers with access to that feature and is available in our Pro plan for new customers.

    Our new attendance tracking feature lets instructors take attendance and view attendance history right from their phones or tablets.

    Many community education instructors and teaching artists teach classes for several different organizations. If those programs use CourseStorm, it’s even easier since instructors can use the same login to access all of their classes that are offered through CourseStorm. 

    What CourseStorm Training Is Available? 

    If you’re curious about what CourseStorm can do but want to see for yourself, we encourage you to sign up for a free trial. This allows you to create a demo site on your own, with helpful guidance that walks you through the steps of how to build and use a CourseStorm site for your class registrations. 

    If you do decide to become a customer, we offer weekly live onboarding or on-demand videos, depending on your plan, that show you how to use CourseStorm right away. “Our software is very intuitive. It’s easy for someone to set up a site in an evening or a weekend,” said Hayli, CourseStorm’s customer onboarding lead. 

    If you are a teaching artist or work with them, read and share these other helpful articles: Educating Arts Educators: 6 Ideas for Professional Development and 5 Ways Art Teachers Can Balance Teaching and Creating Art. Be sure to subscribe to our blog below so you don’t miss a thing!

  2. Choose the Best Registration Software – 9 Options Compared

    Being the best registration software is a little like being the world’s greatest uncle. Anyone can claim the title and it’s usually awarded by people who already know and like you. Being the best in that case is pretty subjective. And that’s the point, really. 

    There’s no one best registration software for all organizations. This article will help you consider 9 options and find the solution that’s the best fit for your specific needs.

    There’s no absolute best registration software for all organizations. From the perspective of any individual organization, the best software solution is the one that most closely fits their needs. In short, you don’t just want the software that shows up on some random top 10 list. You want the solution that works best for your organization and audience. 

    That’s why we’ve compared 9 of the best registration software solutions. Our goal is to help you find the one that fits your needs. From adult education to kids camps and activities, we’ll walk you through the available options and show you where each one shines. 

    What Is Registration Software?

    Registration software is designed to automate the registration and payment process. It saves time and reduces errors by allowing attendees or students to directly input their information. The best registration software systems also allow you to create reports and sync registrant data with other software including email, donor management, and event ticketing tools

    The best registration software allows you to create reports and sync student data with other software including email, donor management, and ticketing tools.

    Some programs try to manage registrations using tools like Google Forms or even Excel spreadsheets. However, these methods tend to be labor intensive and don’t allow for integration across systems. Many programs quickly discover that registration software is worth the investment. 

    What to Consider When Choosing the Best Registration Software

    With dozens of options out there, how do you choose the best registration software for your audience and your programs? By considering your goals and what your audience needs. 

    All the registration software on this list allows you to register and take payments online, but each has unique features designed for different purposes. As you peruse the list keep these factors in mind:

    Classes vs. Events

    A class registration program is different from event registration software. Learners and event attendees have different needs, and your organization needs different information about each type of customer. Make sure to choose the right software for your type of offering.

    Repeat or One-Off

    Getting someone to register for a once-a-year event is different from starting an ongoing relationship with them. Check whether the software you’re considering has the marketing and communication tools you need for the type of relationships you want to build.

    Adults, Kids, or Everyone

    Whether you’re creating offerings for adults, kids, or a mix of both, you need tools that meet their needs. Parents may need to register multiple children and fill out waivers and medical forms. Adults may need regular reminders so upcoming events and programs make it to their calendar. Look for features that meet the needs of your registrants.

    Organization Type

    Your organization type matters too. Some software solutions are designed with degree-granting colleges and universities in mind. Others are more suited to smaller organizations. Nonprofits have different needs (and budgets!) than for-profit businesses. Pay-as-you-go pricing is often a must for class registration software for nonprofits. Lots of CourseStorm customers are nonprofits since it costs them nothing when they’re not running classes. 

    How Will You Use Data?

    The best registration software helps you collect data about each student so you can customize their experience and meet their needs. Consider what data you’d like to have and where you will use it. Does your solution integrate with all of the other tools you use?

    Best Registration Software for Different Goals

    We’ve included more details about each registration software tool below, but if you want a quick answer, use this decision tree to find the best registration software for your goals and audience.

    1. Best Registration Software for Arts Organizations and Community Education Programs

    CourseStorm

    CourseStorm is the impossibly simple class registration software designed to help community education and arts and culture programs save time and enroll more students. CourseStorm’s cloud-based platform is the best class registration software for programs offering education to kids and adults.

    With online and mobile registration and payment processing, CourseStorm helps programs register students quickly. Email marketing and customized registration forms build relationships with students. Waiting lists, promo codes, and payment plans come standard. So do reporting and integrations. 

    CourseStorm has several pricing plans where you only pay when you register a student. Plans start as low as 2% of each registration plus credit card fees. For programs that offer free classes, there are flexible subscription options as well. Whether you’re offering in-person or online courses, CourseStorm can simplify your registration process.

    Pros: No monthly fees, email marketing, payment plans, group registration

    Cons: Not ideal for credit-based courses, not ideal for drop-in or sliding scale classes

    2. Good for Event Registration

    RegFox

    RegFox bills itself as event registration software. Classes come third on their list of priorities after conferences and camps. Marketed as easy to use, the system may be best suited to organizations looking for an alternative to Eventbrite and Cvent. 

    They offer support for merchandise and product sales, social incentives, and editing and upgrading of existing orders. All of this is well-targeted to event management, but less relevant for class registration. 

    Pricing is $0.99 per attendee plus a $2.99 credit card processing fee. It’s important to note that while signup confirmation emails are free, RegFox charges $0.02 per recipient for email invitations and follow-ups, meaning they might not be the most cost-effective solution for building a long-term relationship with students. 

    Pros: Synchronized reports, host virtual events in platform, flexible forms, multi-class registrations

    Cons: Event focused, marketing emails cost extra, no customer profile

    3. Good Fit for Subscription-Based Programs

    RegPack

    RegPack was originally designed for billing automation. Unsurprisingly, they’re very focused on the billing aspect of registration. Theirs may be the best registration software for subscription-based programs. For example, a gym with a year-long contract might use it to collect monthly fees.

    They offer automatic course billing, discounts and variable pricing for learners, and a centralized registration database that features your branding. You can also share live-streamed or pre-recorded video content with registrants. 

    The cost is $125 per month per admin, plus 2.1% payment processing. That means you would have to pay $125 even if you didn’t have any registrations in that month.

    Pros: Mobile-ready, form builder, group registration, e-signature capabilities, payment plans

    Cons: Pricing per admin, no phone support, slow support response times

    4. Best Registration Software for Children’s Activities

    Sawyer

    Focused on kids classes, camps and events, Sawyer lists classes directly on their website. You can also embed listings on your own site. Because they’re kid-focused, they offer features like family profiles so parents can list authorized caregivers. 

    You can email registered parents through class rosters, but if you want to customize emails, you’ll need a Zapier integration, which is only available at the $329 per month subscription level. Which brings us to the question of cost.

    Sawyer is a robust platform with many useful features, but the cost quickly adds up. Their entry-level price is $109 per month billed annually. The price jumps to $129 if you’re on a monthly plan. That doesn’t include credit card processing fees, which are charged per registration. 

    Registrations made on their marketplace also incur a 30% “marketplace fee.” This fee shrinks as you upgrade your plan. To get custom forms and waitlists, you’ll need to upgrade to the $169 per month plan. 

    Pros: Large feature set, modern interface, gift cards

    Cons: Kid-focused, markets other ed providers, additional cost for growth features

    5. Best Software Solution for Gymnastics and Dance Schools

    Jackrabbit

    Jackrabbit helps gymnastics, dance, swim, cheer, and music programs to register students. They focus specifically on schools or youth activity centers that offer these courses and their features are tailored to the needs of these types of schools. 

    Jackrabbit includes a point-of-sale system for the front desk, skill-tracking so teachers can share student progress, and a time clock for tracking staff hours. With built-in costume and recital management, you can get organized for a recital, track costume sizes, and even offer online payment options for costume orders. All of these features make them the best class registration software for dance and gymnastics schools. 

    Pricing is based on the size of the school. It starts at $49 per month for schools with 100 or fewer students and billing is based on the number of students in your database each month. 

    Pros: Includes staff time clock, skills tracking through parent portal, low cost

    Cons: Focused on specific industries, limited website integration

    6. Best Software for Ticketing and Fundraising

    PatronManager

    PatronManager or other donor management software isn’t really designed to be class registration software, but some arts programs are using it that way. It’s a program they already know and use for ticketing, fundraising, and marketing, so it seems natural that they should try to make it work for class registration as well. 

    PatronManager excels at fundraising and donor development, and they’re pros at ticketing and box office management. They can even help you market your arts programs. However, PatronManager was never meant to be a course management system. It doesn’t have roster management, waiting lists, group registrations or any of the other features that make for powerful class registration software.

    Fortunately for arts programs, CourseStorm integrates with PatronManager so you can keep the ticketing and fundraising software you love, and add on all of the course management solutions you need!

    Pros: Great at ticketing and fundraising, built for nonprofits, integrates with CourseStorm

    Cons: Not designed for class registration

    7. Best for Traditional Degree Programs Operated by Universities 

    AceWare

    One of the older course management and student registration software solutions out there, AceWare offers many features but they may not be as user-friendly as modern software users expect. Their extensive list of features comes packaged in an older format that may not excite students. 

    Unlike other systems, AceWare grants you a perpetual license to their programs for the hefty price tag of $32,495. If you want support and maintenance you’ll pay another 16% per year on top of the total cost of purchase. There’s also a $3,750 fee if you need the SQL database upgrade.

    Pros: Students can print unofficial transcripts, track student comments and feedback

    Cons: Older style, capital investment, separate payment processing, refunds are challenging

    8. Best Registration Software for Modern Institutions of Higher Ed 

    Ellucian Elevate

    An enterprise resource planning solution for colleges and universities, Ellucian is helping higher ed institutions to modernize their degree-granting education programs. They work with 2- and 4-year private, public, and for-profit schools. They have tools to support alumni relations, campus life, and financial aid among other essential functions of a full-scale university. 

    Recently they partnered with CampusLogic, the student financial success software company, to help students overcome financial barriers to enrollment. 

    Ellucian may be the best registration software for universities, but is likely too complex for adult and community education programs, arts organizations, and kids programs. Because they’re so focused on credit-based offerings, the non-credit side of their course software may not get the attention it deserves. 

    Ellucian is also an enterprise-level solution with an enterprise-level price tag. You’ll need to contact them directly for pricing.

    Pros: All-in-one solution for higher ed

    Cons: Poor fit for smaller programs, high initial investment, complex

    9. Best Registration Software for Non-Traditional Student Management

    Augusoft Lumens / Modern Campus

    Augusoft Lumens was recently acquired by Modern Campus. The Modern Campus platform now combines Destiny One and Lumens into a platform for non-traditional student management. Class schedule management is just one of the services they offer. They also provide curriculum, marketing, reporting, finance, and systems administration. 

    You can use the platform to create customized offerings aimed at specific corporate partners and offer digital credentials that help students share their progress with employers. If you need registration software for classes aimed at adults who are seeking non-degree programs to advance their careers, Modern Campus might be the right solution. 

    This is another enterprise-level solution with a price tag to match. If you’re not a university or college with a large budget, this probably isn’t the right registration software for you.

    Pros: Robust, multi-service platform

    Cons: High cost, add-on costs, complex

    Find the Best Registration Software for Classes or Events

    Hopefully this article has given you an idea of what registration software is available to you. Information is great, but we think the best way to choose registration software is by testing it out for yourself. Get your free trial of CourseStorm today and find out if our impossibly simple class registration software is right for you. 

    All information current at the time of publication. Please verify prices before purchasing.

  3. Using Event Ticketing Software for Class Registration? Why You May Want to Reconsider

    We are still seeing the impact of just how hard the pandemic hit the arts. Many regional theaters shuttered, and those that survived are staging fewer productions. The good news is that arts education is still going strong. Arts organizations that offer classes, workshops, and summer camps have been able to sustain and even grow their revenue in many cases.

    Event ticketing software, which many arts organizations use to sell tickets to performances, is not a great fit for registering people for classes.

    The bad news is that event ticketing software, which many arts organizations use to sell tickets to performances, is not a great fit for registering people for classes. That’s because theatre ticketing software, sometimes called performing arts ticketing software or box office software, serves a different purpose than course registration software. 

    In this article, we’ll compare event ticketing software vs. course registration software, showing the features, benefits, and differences of each. We’ll also show you how many organizations integrate the two types of software to best serve their audiences for both performances and educational classes.

    Common Features of Event Ticketing Software

    There are many different brands of event ticketing software, some specifically for performing arts organizations and some not. Eventbrite, Arts People, ThunderTix, PatronManager, Tessitura, and Spektrix are just a few examples. Pricing can range from free to various monthly subscriptions based on ticket volume. 

    What these types of ticketing software have in common is that they are all designed to sell tickets to one-time events to maximize attendance. While the specifics of each event ticketing software vary, common features include:

    • Mobile, online, and onsite ticketing
    • Barcode/ticket scanning
    • Customer data management
    • Promotions management
    • Seat management

    Performing arts organizations will want to pay particular attention to certain features. For instance, ThunderTix and Spektrix offer a reserved seating option, while others do not. All of the event ticketing software platforms listed above include the option to sell season tickets, except for Eventbrite. Be sure to find out whether the ticketing software you’re considering has the features your organization needs. 

    Specific Features of Course Registration Software

    Event ticketing software is built to sell tickets to different types of events and performances. That could be festivals and conferences, or concerts and plays. Class registration software, on the other hand, is designed to meet the unique needs of education programs. This means it has some helpful features that box office ticketing software lacks. 

    Features of course registration software that ticketing software lacks include an online course catalog, customized registration forms to collect the info you need, and automated waitlists that notify students when a spot opens up.

    Some features of course registration software include: 

    • Online course catalog. You can create an interactive course catalog with search and filtering tools, so students can browse by topic, date and time, instructor, or other criteria.
    • Waitlists for popular classes. Don’t miss out on potential revenue by keeping track of interested students even when a class is full. CourseStorm has a new feature that allows programs to send customized emails to students on your waitlist when a spot opens up. The registration invitation expires after a set time so you can move on to the next person on the list.    
    • Class rosters. Giving instructors access to class rosters lets them monitor enrollment. You can also notify all the students in each class at one time if there’s a cancellation or message you need to share.
    • Customized registration forms. Tailor forms to collect the specific information you need for each class. You can also include policies and release forms for students to sign.
    • Student portal. Give students access to their class history, payment methods, and upcoming classes. They can also update their contact information and add themselves to classes or waitlists.
    • Attendance tracking. Instructors and admins can track attendance for their classes on desktop or mobile devices to see who attended which classes and who logged attendance.  

    The best registration software for classes offers all of these features and more to help you manage courses and support students. Events and performances don’t require most of these features, so event ticketing software is unlikely to have them built in.

    Event Ticketing Software vs Course Registration Software: Features chart

    Event Ticketing Software vs. Course Registration Software 

    Are you thinking that having two different software platforms—one for ticketing and one for classes—sounds unnecessary or too complicated? It’s not when you consider that each of these tools serves a different purpose. 

    You might already be using ticketing software and donor management software. If so, you know that they have different features related to each function and you need both. It’s the same with course registration software. Neither ticketing software nor donor management software has the specific features that benefit both education programs and their students, such as customizable registration forms, class rosters, waitlist management features, and more. 

    As far as being too complicated, that’s not at all the case with CourseStorm. Designed to be simple and streamlined, it takes very little time to set up your course site and start taking registrations. Our customers appreciate how easy it is to use, and the time it saves them from taking registrations manually or with another tool not designed for that purpose. 

    Additionally, it is possible to integrate your various software platforms if you wish. That way, you can use each tool for what it’s intended AND streamline the flow of information back and forth and simplify tasks. 

    PatronManager + CourseStorm = PatronStorm

    PatronManager is one popular ticketing, fundraising, and customer relationship management platform that built an integration with CourseStorm. Their customers were asking for a solution that would allow them to provide a better class registration experience to students and would also allow administrators to manage things like waitlists, refunds and exchanges, and other class management tasks. That’s how PatronStorm was born.

    “We love CourseStorm’s interface. We think it’s so great for our clients to have a truly tailor-made interface that’s designed for class registration.” – Shasti Walsh, PatronManager

    “From the PatronManager perspective, we love CourseStorm’s interface. We think it’s so great for our clients to have a truly tailor-made interface that’s designed for class registration rather than trying to shoehorn it into another system,” said Shasti Walsh, PatronManager product manager.  

    If you have event ticketing software with all your ticket buyer data, and that integrates with your class registration software that has all your student data, you can do targeted outreach specific to certain audiences. 

    Here’s an example: A community theatre is running a Shakespeare class for teens. They want to email all the parents and let them know there’s a weekend performance of Hamlet coming up, weeding out the people who’ve already bought tickets. PatronStorm allows programs to pull the reports necessary to do this.

    Other Ways to Integrate CourseStorm With Your Ticketing System

    CourseStorm is developing integrations with other performing arts ticketing software platforms as well, such as Spektrix. If you’re interested in being a beta tester for our Spektrix integration, get in touch with us

    If you use another event ticketing solution, you may still be able to integrate it with class registration software. Check out Zapier to see if your software can connect to CourseStorm.

    Zapier is an online automation tool that connects your apps and services with no coding required. “Zaps” are connections you can build between two or more apps to automate repetitive tasks without relying on developers to build the integration.

    There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for events, classes, and donors that meets the needs of every organization. But there are tools available that offer the features you need for each of your offerings. CourseStorm is a great way to streamline and even grow your class registrations, with helpful integrations to boot. Try CourseStorm for free and learn how it can work for your program!

  4. How Much Does Registration Software Really Cost?

    If you’re in the market for online registration software for your classes, camps, or workshops, price is probably a primary concern. Most community and arts education programs need to keep costs as low as possible. For non-profit organizations, the cost can be even more of a concern. Of course, price isn’t the only factor to consider when you’re assessing your options for class registration software.

    Simply comparing the numbers doesn’t take into account factors like the time you save from having all the right features integrated. Sticker prices don’t show you how much your registrations will increase because of how easy this software is to use. You can’t measure time saved on a price comparison sheet.

    Whether you are currently using course registration software or another method to register students, we’ll walk you through the questions you should ask to understand how much registration software is really worth.

    Pricing of Common Class Registration Software Solutions

    When it comes to class registration software, it can be hard to compare apples to apples. Some software providers charge a monthly fee. Others charge a per-registration fee. Some have hidden fees or add-ons you might not be aware of until set-up. Whatever their model, you can be pretty sure that they’ll pass credit card processing fees on to you. Some common fees include:

    • Expected number of student registrations
    • Expected total of payments processed
    • Monthly fee

    Depending on which system you choose, monthly fees may range from $0 to $8,500 per month. Per-registration fees may be a flat fee or a percentage between 2% and 6%. Many programs also charge a convenience fee of between $1.50 and $2.99 that you can choose to pass on to the student or cover yourself. 

    Remember to ask about set-up fees, additional admin fees, and any other costs that might pop up. Some providers charge for technical support beyond the first few hours. At CourseStorm we provide support at every level for all customers, regardless of pricing plan. Some software providers do not, however, so it’s smart to ask about it. 

    The Cost of Not Having Registration Software

    With all of these costs to consider, you might wonder if it’s worth having registration software at all. That, at least, is easy to answer. Yes, the right class registration software is worth it for several reasons. 

    The right course registration software improves the student experience, saves your staff time, and can save you money.

    First, because it improves the student experience. They can register and pay from their smartphone at any time of the day or night. No need to print and fill out forms, or wait on the mail to deliver their check to you. 

    Second, it saves your staff time. Registration software eliminates the needs for manual tracking of registrations and payments. A student’s registration and payment status are automatically linked in the system. You can also easily print reports and class rosters.

    Third, it can save you money. Yes, you’ll pay for the software, but you’ll save on staff hours. Plus, the best registration software automates payment plans for big-ticket courses so payments come in on time month-after-month. 

    Finally, the best registration software maximizes your enrollments. For example, CourseStorm’s software includes built-in waiting lists, warns students when a class is in danger of cancellation, and offers group registrations. All of these features help you avoid cancellations and fill classes. 

    So the cost of not having registration software could be hundreds or thousands of dollars a year in lost enrollments and work hours. 

    How to Pick Registration Software That’s Worth the Cost

    When you understand the value of registration software, choosing the right software becomes the more important question. You want software that is worth the cost you pay for it. Asking these questions will help you choose the software solution that offers the best return on investment for your program. 

    1. What is this software designed for?

    This might seem like a silly question to start with, but it’s actually a vital one. Many education programs are using software that wasn’t built for them. They’ve picked a solution like Eventbrite, which is great for one-off events and ticketing, but just wasn’t designed to manage courses.

    Using event software for course registration can cost you time and money.

    Using event software for course registration can cost you time and money. Someone on your team will waste hours manually entering data and students may get frustrated. That’s a price no one wants to pay. 

    The best registration software for classes is designed specifically for class registration and payment so make sure you find software specifically built for those functions.

    2. What features does it offer?

    If you’re looking for course registration software, you want a tool that handles the full student registration system. It should help you with marketing your courses, collecting registrant data, and of course, processing payments. 

    Does your current software offer features that make the registration process simple for students? Features like: 

    And don’t forget marketing features like: 

    Each of these features represents added value for your program. That means that registration software without these features is essentially leaving money on the table. 

    One program brought in $2,300 in registrations in 2 weeks by sending automated class recommendation emails to students.

    For a concrete example, look at the value one program gained by sending automated class recommendation emails to students. In just two weeks, the program brought in $2,300 in registrations from class recommendation emails. 

    3. Does it integrate with other services you use?

    Since no software can do it all, integrations can come in handy. Theaters and other arts organizations might want software that integrates with PatronManager. Non-profits might benefit from Little Green Light integration. CourseStorm integrates with both. 

    CourseStorm integrates with PatronManager and Little Green Light, as well as other tools you may already be using.

    Consider if and how a software solution integrates with other tools you might be using. Does it seamlessly connect to your email marketing tools like MailChimp or Constant Contact. What about scheduling tools like Google Calendar or Apple Calendar?  

    Integrations like these can save you time, which ultimately saves you money. No more entering data multiple times. Integrations can also help you bring in more donations by rolling your student list into your donor list. When it’s time for your annual campaign or other fundraising push, you can easily include your students in your mailing list. 

    4. What is the registration experience like?

    Ultimately, registration experience is the true measure of value for any registration software. Potential students may just decide not to register if the process is too challenging.

    Before investing in new registration software, run a few trial scenarios and rate the difficulty of each one:

    • Try to find a specific class in the course catalog
    • Register for a class
    • Register multiple family members for the same class
    • Register using a mobile device

    If you get frustrated while tackling these tasks, imagine how students might feel. Consider the registrations you might be missing from students who won’t stick with a challenging registration system. 

    5. How is their customer support?

    Responsive customer support can save you time and frustration. If you have to wait two days to even get a response to a question you could be missing out on registrations. Worse, potential students might not wait for you to figure out your technology and may find another class from another provider.

    Unfortunately, the quality of customer support can be hard to gauge before you start using a software solution. Some have great sales teams, but drop the ball when it comes to customer support. If you can, chat with some other programs that already use the software. 

    Ask them: 

    • What kinds of issues have you run into?
    • How long does it take customer support to respond to you?
    • What medium do you use to communicate with customer support?
    • How do you feel about their support?

    You can also take a look at the software’s help library. Do they offer clear guidance? Is it searchable? Remember, less time spent on technical issues is more time you can spend on directly serving your students.

    6. Is your class registration solution easily scalable?

    Some software providers charge fixed monthly fees in addition to per-transaction fees. If your registrations stay fairly consistent year-round, fixed monthly fees may not pose a problem. 

    On the other hand, if your program is like most, you probably have a busy season and a slow season. There may be months at a time when you’re running no classes at all. In that case, the fixed monthly fee starts to feel a lot more costly. 

    Fixed monthly fees and contracts can be costly for programs with a busy season and a slow season.

    Additionally, some registration software solutions require a contract. You’re locked in for at least a year. If your program (or the market) experiences an unexpected change you might be stuck paying for a solution that no longer fits your needs. 

    Consider whether a fee-per-transaction model might make more sense for your program. That way, the software provider only gets paid when you do. It makes your program a lot easier to scale. Look for one that offers unlimited students, classes, and administrators. Your student registration software shouldn’t limit your program growth, it should support you through every stage.

    So, How Much Does Class Registration Software Cost?

    By now we hope you see that pricing is one thing, but cost is something else entirely. Budget-priced registration software can cost a lot more than you realize. It’s important to look beyond the sticker price to understand the value you’re getting for the money.

    Testing is the best way to know whether a class registration software solution is right for your program. Start your free trial of CourseStorm today.

  5. CourseStorm vs. RegFox: The Best Software for Course Registration vs. Events

    Which one is better, CourseStorm or RegFox? You might as well ask whether a cheese grater is better than a potato peeler. Both are useful tools — they even share some traits — but using one in place of the other is likely to cause frustration. 

    When we talk about the best online registration platforms, events and courses sometimes get lumped together. The truth is that attendees at events have different needs than students in classes. The right registration software can make a big difference. That’s why we’re comparing CourseStorm and RegFox so you can see how software designed for course registrations compares to event scheduling software. 

    Who Uses RegFox?

    RegFox is an online event registration software. It’s designed primarily for conferences, conventions, and other large-scale events. Although they do mention classes on their website, it’s clear that is not their primary focus. Most of their marketing centers around how they can make events easier and less expensive to run. 

    Event organizers choose RegFox when they need tools for in-person, virtual, or hybrid events. It seems to offer everything event planners expect. You might see it compared to Eventbrite or Cvent. 

    RegFox bills itself as event registration software, whereas CourseStorm is designed for class registrations. There’s a big difference between events and classes.

    All of that sounds great, but there’s a big difference between class registrations and event registrations. Event attendees want to get the event schedule, network with peers, and maybe buy some event-related merch or claim continuing education credits after the fact. By contrast, learners in courses need to browse your course catalog, interact with their instructors, and potentially even sign up for additional classes. 

    Ultimately, it comes down to student experience. When you choose registration software, you’re designing your student experience. Weigh the benefits of each option with that in mind. 

    What Does RegFox Cost?

    RegFox and CourseStorm actually have similar pricing models. Both charge a per-person fee plus credit card processing. Neither locks you into a contract or charges monthly fees. 

    RegFox fees are $0.99 plus 1% per registrant with a 2.99% credit card fee. Given that their clients run events with hundreds or thousands of attendees, they make most of their revenue based on volume. If you want to email attendees, you’ll pay an additional fee per registrant.

    Is RegFox Easy to Use?

    We hear that the setup process at RegFox is pretty easy and the registration itself is smooth. But when you’re providing learning experiences to students, you’re not just focused on a smooth transaction. You want to cultivate a long-term relationship so students will return to your classes again and again. 

    Because RegFox is designed for events, it doesn’t include some of the features that enhance the student experience. There are no waiting lists or class rosters. You have to pay if you want to email every student who registers for a specific class, and there’s no way to automatically let students know about upcoming classes that might interest them.

    Processing a one-time event registration is different than cultivating a longterm relationship with learners who register for classes.

    When students register through CourseStorm, they join your learning community. Our system keeps track of the classes they’ve taken and can automatically let them know about upcoming classes of interest. They can join waiting lists, manage registrations for their whole family, or opt into a payment plan to keep learning affordable. 

    At the same time, instructors get access to class rosters and can email their students (included at no extra cost) with details or announcements. Program directors get the reporting they need to make informed decisions about next year’s course catalog. Plus, you get automated marketing tools to help grow enrollments.

    CourseStorm vs. RegFox

    As web-based event scheduling software, RegFox ticks a lot of boxes. It has features like event QR code check in that are pretty cool if you’re hosting a massive event with hundreds of attendees. However, when it comes to offering a quality class experience, some functions are better found in a course registration system like CourseStorm. 

    CourseStorm vs. RegFox: the Best Software for Course Registration vs. Events. We compare the features of each.

    This list isn’t comprehensive. We chose the ones most relevant to education programs and their students. As you can see, 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 refund reserve feature ensures that you always have enough to cover potential refunds, but can still get the payouts you need to buy essential class supplies and keep your program running. We also have a new waiting list feature: when a spot becomes available, you can send people on the waiting list a link that expires after a set time. Then, they can either register right on your site or decline the invite. 

    Should You Choose RegFox or CourseStorm?

    For an education program, you need more than a good check-out experience, you also need the tools to keep students happy and engaged. The right software helps you create an ongoing relationship with students. Here’s how to decide which software is the right fit for your program. 

    • Match the software to your goal. If your goal is to register a bunch of people for a one-time or annual event, event software might be the right choice. When you want to build longterm engagement with learners, you need software to help you do that.
       
    • Cultivate the student experience. You’re not just selling classes, you’re offering an educational experience. Consider how students will feel — and how you need to interact with them — at each stage of the process. Look for software that supports the experience you’re trying to build. 

    • Disregard unnecessary features. It’s easy to be dazzled by a long list of features, but what you really need are the right features for your program. Make a list of the features you need and those that would be nice to have. Then weigh the software against your list. 

    • Read reviews. Look for reviews from people who are using the software the way you hope to use it. A registration solution can be a great fit for one type of organization and still be wrong for yours. Seek out the advice of other education programs and providers before you make your final decision. 

    One of the best ways to decide if a registration and payment processing solution fits your needs is to try it for yourself. Unfortunately, RegFox doesn’t have a free trial, but you can watch an on-demand demo. 

    If you’re in the market for online registration software, price is probably a primary concern. But with every platform having a unique pricing structure, how do you decide which software will give you the most value? Our article, How Much Does Registration Software Cost? Price vs. Value, will walk you through the questions you should ask to understand how much your registration software is really worth. For a hands-on testing experience set up your free trial of CourseStorm today.

  6. 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!

  7. 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 compared

    We 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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

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