A number of Student Management Systems use ‘add on’ website services, or leave it to the training provider to develop and maintain a custom their website. onCourse went a different route early on - we maintain the integration between the website and database for you.

onCourse provides a website infrastructure with online enrolment as a standard part of our student management system. The website is hosted, managed, maintained and upgraded alongside the database so that when new features are developed, you can access them right away.

just use an application programming interface (API), right?

An application programming interface (API) is the code used to link one piece of software to another. Their fairly common, and can be very useful. There’s one problem with an API - it’s usually a custom piece of code, and needs to be maintained an updates as each part of the system is updated.

The first issue is time - the fetch and returns take time and can get ‘stuck’. The second issue is the many changes VET Faces. One question changes and you have to get the code re-written. There’s more on these challenges in the blog Why a custom API doesn’t give an better outcome.

Custom is more expensive

We find this ‘off the shelf’ style of integration to be more effective than a custom integration.

The ubiquity of the web, and the need to have an online presence mean that NOT having a website or current features can be negative against your organisation. To us, this means having a website is part of what it means to be a provider.

Website and web technology are developing and innovating constantly, and there are web developers and designers in large organisations who spend their entire working life supporting the company’s website. APIs can be a great solution in some contexts, but if you don’t have these in-house specialists, the development needed to maintain a custom online enrolment system becomes a burden. APIs are vulnerable to the changes in the dependent systems, and over time, they need work to be maintained.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the issues with this type of custom or API set up

  • The cost of creating an integration is likely higher than the cost of transferring the client integrated website
  • online enrolment system is often developed as a one-off project that works for the current need but lack scalability or ongoing development and support
  • retention of in-house (or even outsourced) development staff can be high cost, and even if they’re still available, they may have other projects
  • custom work is usually more expensive than the cost SaaS services
  • Any future changes would be costly, resulting in an online process that is current for a relatively short time, then outdated but too expensive to fix.
  • Training providers are a heavily regulated sector, which limits the possibilities for online enrolment, so the client risks reinventing the wheel in development of their own process
  • Changes may be costly and delayed, so the client puts themselves in a vulnerable position when it comes to updating the system to meet changes to the legislation or regulations