The prominent rise of online education has increased the competition for student enrolments and finding effective ways to develop relationships with new audiences. Reaching potential students is expensive, uncertain, and highly competitive.
HATCH.ED was born out of a need to better enable institutions to support student enrolment growth. The platform provides powerful social and educational tools, where the institution owns their content, data, and the relationship with their students.
The Challenge for Institutions
In the past, once students graduated from school, they would compete to gain entry into universities of high stature. Today, they have far more options to explore. Institutions are not only competing for student enrolments locally, but on a global scale. To be successful through change, institutions need to constantly reinvent themselves to compete.
The ensuing change in the educational landscape, along with the ongoing uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, has created urgency for institutions to provide their existing offerings in an online or blended fashion, create new offerings that suit remote students, and evolve their student recruitment practices associated with these changes.
Institutions that are looking to find better ways to recruit students must find novel ways to connect with the market. MOOC (Massive Open Online Classes) or ‘Open Course’ LMS platforms allow students to access credible courses, online. They represent a key opportunity to engage students whilst limiting the need for additional campus resources.
What should institutions focus on?
These open course platforms can be incredible enablers for institutions to build audiences and find students. To best serve potential students, there are considerations that their open course platform must facilitate:
- How the institution provides tools to support and promote their faculty
- How the institution builds relationships with students
- The autonomy the institution has over their brand, content, and data
Four Key Features
The following features are important:
1. Tools to Support and Promote Faculty
It is important for educators to be able to promote themselves and their expertise. This means strong integration with social platforms where they may be sharing opinions and ideas, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Academia.edu.
2. Social Experiences and a Sense of Community
Education is more than a transaction: it is a social bond. Students must feel a sense of community and connectedness with the institutions they are with by being included in news, campus life, and alumni events that are regularly circulated through the learning platform.
Community is an ongoing association, not a timed event. Institutions must be able to build communities off the back of both new contacts and existing students, as well as foster engagement through a sustained and meaningful sense of community and connectedness with the institution.
3. Building Quality Relationships
The relationship with the student is a precious commodity, more so than enrolments or completions on the platform. Institutions must own and nurture the relationship they build with the audience on their platform, not just the intellectual property of the content. They must be able to promote their offerings to this audience, regardless of where these other offerings are hosted.
4. Having Freedom to Use the Platform as The Institution Sees Fit
Each institution is unique in what it offers and who it serves. They must therefore have the freedom to use the platform to create content, connections, and links to offerings based on their own preferred approaches, rather than those prescribed by the platform’s category definitions.
The HATCH.ED Approach
The HATCH.ED LMS has been conceived to address the above challenges for open course platforms, and does so in the following manner:
The institution owns their data.
When users engage with the HATCH.ED platform, they create precious data such as contact information and behavioural insights. This data is highly valuable for student recruitment, market feedback, and developing new IP (Intellectual Property) for institutions.
User registrations to the platform are exclusive to the institution.
A supposed benefit of open platforms is that they allow students access to a broad set of courses from a variety of institutions. This is counterintuitive. Institutions need a platform where they have exclusive access to their students’ attention to form relationships with them.
Configuration of different course types and groupings.
Each country, jurisdiction, institution type, and individual institution has its own approach to credentialing, programme structures, and offerings. The HATCH.ED platform offers the flexibility to allow institutions to map their unique approach to curriculum designs.
Comprehensive and varied LMS functionality.
Implementations for teaching online can be incredibly unique. Styles can range from content-driven and self-paced, to highly collaborative, facilitated, blended, and online/offline methods. This means the platform must be agile enough to allow different ways to teach.
Tools that enhance the educator’s ability to teach online and grow their audiences.
Your educators are what students will be attracted to, and what they will stay for. Your platform should enhance their ability to grow their profile and audience – the best educators are active online, outside of their institutions.
The institution owns the channels to their market.
When you search for an institution online, their website and offerings should show up first in search results, not an external platform that features their content. When an institution has control over its platform, this should be achievable. Any marketing content created should link directly to the institution and allow them to build their audiences as well as their potential student pipeline.
Integration with student information systems.
By running a successful online course platform and building an engaged community, institutions will generate high-quality student recruitment leads. Importantly, the platform needs to be able to connect with the institution’s student information system.
Access to data and tools to analyse platform activity.
Educator and student behaviour on the platform will supply incredible insights on subject areas that students are interested in, as well as the kinds of offerings they are interested in pursuing. This data could even be used to guide students towards relevant services and offerings in real-time.
The institution owns their IP and any revenue generated.
HATCH.ED is designed to allow institutions to own their marketing channels, and the risk/reward.
The prevailing revenue-share expectation with EdTech platform providers are determined by historic anchoring and driven by what makes for attractive reading to platform investors. In the software-platform world outside of EdTech, there is absolutely no precedent when it comes to sharing revenue in order to use a platform. Most software platforms are ‘rented’ on a licensing/subscription model, or managed service agreement.
The reason a platform may justify taking a share of revenue is if they are sharing risk; typically expressed by their front-load marketing and platform-infrastructure costs. Whilst this has its relevance and can be an attractive option, it runs the risk of the institution never building momentum with their own online presence as they may become overly dependent on the platform provider.
HATCH.ED offers the functionality of generating recruitment leads at a fraction of the cost of traditional digital marketing. Institutions will also be able to build and promote their public profile on the platform by having ownership of their relationship with students. Furthermore, HATCH.ED allows institutions to connect digitally with the world around them and create a space where ideas and knowledge can be shared, together.