People will often ask me what’s the best part of onCourse as a student management system. I tell them is the time and money you save using an integrated system.

What does ‘integrated system’ mean?

In an integrated student management system, your database drives your website and your portal, and your website and portal feed information back into your database.

And this is why our clients call onCourse ‘automagical’.

In onCourse, you use your database to store information - class times, images, course descriptions, enrolment, contacts, etc. and then the information is used where it’s needed.

Your website then becomes your ‘public’ communication channel, and your portal your communication channel to student, tutors, employers and Job Service providers.

You enter your class info once, and ‘ta-DAH’ it’s on your website.

We can do this because each part of onCourse - your website, your database, and your portal - is designed, built and updated so it works as part of the whole system.

Ok, but how does that really work?

Which all great to say, but how does this actually save you time and make your working day easier?

Think about an existing class. Most providers have classes that are delivered over some kind of timeframe, like a semester, term, quarter or month. Same subject matter, same tutor, same delivery model, just starting on a new date.

Say you deliver a Certificate III Business Administration over 6 months, with the next course starting when the first one finishes. With a non-integrated system, you generally have the following steps to publish and maintain your class

  1. create the class in your student management system
  2. add the training materials and planned delivery information
  3. add the information to your internal schedule/calendar
  4. notify the trainer of the time and get them to confirm
  5. add the class information to your website
  6. the class details are entered into the Student Management System. Then you enter it into the website. Students see it on your website, and maybe you have them fill out a form

Here’s how you do it on onCourse

  1. duplicate the existing class with a new date
  2. mark ‘enrolment enabled and visible online’ and save

Duplicate it again and you now have a full year’s classes scheduled.

What if you have a block of classes you deliver? Super easy, just highlight the block, duplicate, and boom, your new schedule is ready for enrolment.

But I could use an application programming interface (API), right?

There’s more on the challenge these challenges in the blog Why a custom API isn’t always a better solution.

What an API set up looks like in this case

So you have a website with a third party enrolment or booking app that uses an API to send enrolments to your

  1. create the class in your student management system
  2. add the training materials and planned delivery information
  3. add the information to your internal schedule/calendar
  4. notify the trainer of the time and get them to confirm
  5. add the class information to your website
  6. the class details are entered into the Student Management System.
  7. Then you enter it into the website.
  8. Students see it on your website, and maybe you have them fill out a form
  9. The form then imports into your Student Management system. If it fails, you need a process to correct the forms and restart the import.

Why is an integrated system more cost effective for your organisation

It’s a lot cheaper

Things change in information systems. They change a lot, particularly since we entered the era of cloud-hosted software as a service model (SaaS). Your software is now auto-updating to keep you up with the latest features. APIs are vulnerable to change, and they need ongoing maintenance to keep them functioning.

With an integrated system, the connections between your Database, Website and Portal are all managed by the same vendor, so you know who to go. The features are updated and developed as part of your standard subscription, so you don’t have additional costs for this. One RTO I know spent over $17,000 a year on the Student Management System, $40,000 on their website, and $10,000 a year for the software that managed their APIs. Then they needed to have about 4 staff to keep it all running, with $20,000 more for the consultants and specialised staff to fix their APIs.

Over 5 years, that worked out to be about $575,000 in costs - that doesn’t include the staffing costs.

Add the staffing costs and your looking another $285,000 per year.

That’s just on $2 million.

For many training providers, these costs are simply too high to maintain. The good news is that you don’t have to pay a lot to get the same effect - you can use an integrated system that does it for you.

More importantly - the cost of staffing is decreased in many areas. The time staff spend unskilled tasks shifted to the integration, or automated using scripting, and you don’t need to have full-time staff to manage your website or database since it’s included.

Saving you time and reducing your admin burden

Pressed for time? Need a new class has a tutor and room? Great, you can duplicate the class with the new date. Tick to appear online and it puts the new class on the website for you. All done.

What used to take you hours now takes less than a few minutes.

Updates or amendements

Need to make a change to something on the course description? No trouble. Log in, open the description, edit, and it’s updating the website and the student portal.

Want to have a waiting list but don’t want to add and removed people from it? No worries - the website lets people sign up, and the portal lets them remove themselves.

Peek or cyclical workloads

Peek volumes? Student all want to enrol in the same week but not enough staff to process it all? No trouble. Online sign-ups can have hundreds or thousands of students signing up at the same time. One of our clients sign up over 40,000 students a year, and they only have to have a few staff.