We live in an era of smart content. Ads follow us through search and social channels. Tokens enable personalized web and email experiences. Our content is more relationship-driven than ever before, and yet many EDU websites remain static. How do we create more personalized content experiences for our students?
There are countless tools on the market, but few are tailored for higher education. New Ed is a great example of smart content designed to work for our industry. It’s a cloud-based set of interactive modules making education exploration interactive, personalized and easy to navigate.
New Ed – Digital Listening from Craig Maslowsky on Vimeo.
We sat down with the company’s CEO and founder, Craig Maslowsky, to learn more about New Ed and get his thoughts on the need for content personalization in higher education.
CC: Give us your elevator pitch to start things off.
CM: New Ed offers a SaaS platform which makes exploration of degree and training programs simple, personalized and informative while generating rich analytics. We provide interactive exploration for either a single institution or a group of institutions programs as they relate to career paths, transfer credit, location and cost. Our platform “listens” to users interactions and inputs as they navigate, capturing an extensive prospective student profile which feeds into an institutions CRM and can be leveraged for follow up communications and ongoing marketing and enrollment strategies. New Ed can be installed with minimal technical resources and little time required from our customers. We provide a snippet of code to be placed on an institutions website, which pulls in the interactive modules through our API.
CC: What inspired your venture with New Ed?
CM: New Ed came from my experience navigating enrollment technology as an enrollment marketer for 13 years. I realized that although we had powerful communication engines with our CRM and marketing automation systems, we lacked the fuel to leverage them, which I saw as points of information about our prospective students.
I had a vision to gather information by facilitating digital conversations through interactive technologies that were tailored to what we knew students cared about—career relevance, cost, time and transfer. By “conversation,” I mean we ask the site visitor for information, they provide it, we use that to return something personalized, then we ask something else based on their initial input and so on. As we do that, we digitally listen and document input and interactions. Anyway, I was convinced this was needed and wanted to provide it broadly. So I raised some money and made it happen.
CC: With the cost of tuition and fees rising faster than ever before, how does personalization help students make informed decisions?
CM: Considering an education is a such a significant investment. It’s critical students come in feeling comfortable that they’re making an informed decision. Success in initial classes has proven to be an indicator of success to completion. It’s also clear that career alignment is increasingly important to traditional and post-traditional students because it’s critical to estimating the potential return on investment. Because career goals vary by student, and prior learning and alternative sources of credit have become an increasingly important consideration with so many options available, the only way to present useful cost and outcome information is by first considering, in a personalized way, what a student brings to the table and where they want to go.
CC: Why do you think higher education needs personalization?
CM: The array of options are increasing for students, and student expectations and approaches to exploring education are evolving. They expect to have information available online that can inform where they will apply and what they will pursue. With our platform, the student more efficiently receives detailed information about their options, and the institution receives more specific information and insight into the needs and goals of their future and current students. It’s a win on both sides of the conversation.
Additionally, institutions likely know they want to deliver the kind of experience our technology delivers, but with so many important initiatives consuming technical resources, it’s really difficult to pull off with existing budgets and staff. We solve that by delivering a resource that can fit into existing web properties and is implemented with minimal technical resources required from the institution.
CC: Your current offerings include Program, Career and Transfer modules. How did you decide where to begin the personalized experience?
CM: We chose Program, Career and Transfer after exploring an array of reports available about what students cared about as they explored their options for education. We also met with dozens of VPs of Enrollment and Marketing to find out what they needed and wanted in a resource like ours. We built a platform that included all of the engagement functionality in one tool, then unbundled it into “modules” that could be implemented separately or together.
We’ve worked with institutions to modify and optimize each tool to make sure each provided value both separately and combined. So far our initial results show the greatest engagement with the transfer exploration tool. This was for a post-traditional audience, so that makes sense. Transfer seems to be an increasingly important consideration for students across categories. They are looking for at least some information up front to know how their transfer credits may impact their time and cost to completion.
CC: Any examples to share of schools who are doing a fantastic job with personalized content experiences?
CM: I often see features I like as I explore various websites and could list examples all day, but I’m especially impressed with Franklin University’s Transfer Credit Tool. They put a lot of effort into creating a really sharp tool and learning the story of the collaboration between their IT and EM departments was inspiring and impressive. I also love how Colorado State University-Global Campus creates a way for users to select an entry point that will be relevant to their needs. Both are very much user focused.
CC: We see changes in how education is consumed at the collegiate level everyday. What are your thoughts on the future of our industry?
CM: For the past few years, there has been significant discussion about drastic shifts in higher ed. When the hype about MOOCs was at its peak, I thought a lot about the importance of bridging the traditional with emerging models rather than picking which would win. The rapid addition of online offerings at public institutions, and the growing acceptance of alternative sources of credit like Straighterline, are a great example of how change is occurring.
As institutions feel the competitive impact of similar institutions embracing these models, there is an increasing urgency to change. With demographic shifts elevating the importance of revenue from post-traditional students to fill the gap from declining traditional enrollments, it seems clear the unbundling of offerings and packaging of various credit courses will continue to grow. This will certainly make clarity and personalization in the exploration process a priority, since the path to a credential will look so different for each individual student.
Interested in learning more about content personalization?
Craig will be joining us for Converge 2017 in Palm Springs next month. Stop by his booth in the exhibit hall to learn more. If you haven’t registered yet, get signed up with code NEWANDNEXT by February 15 to save $100 on your individual conference pass.