At Eduventures, we like to start the new year by highlighting a handful of technology products and services that are worth a fresh look. While we identified nearly 20 vendors to watch at our annual Summit this year, here we highlight five that represent the most-asked-about solutions by our institutional clients. Their products address fundamental challenges in the adoption of cloud services, engagement, experiential learning, mobile app development, and integration services.
Last year we featured edtech startups with novel technology approaches to common problems. This year, the vendors we selected are either already successful in other industries, or are poised to reach mainstream adoption in higher education. If successful in their approaches to their respective market segments, these vendors should see significant growth in market share during the coming year.
Workday – Cloud SIS Ready for Primetime
Eduventures and others have extensively covered Workday for bringing its approach to cloud computing that is ubiquitous in other industries to the slow-to-change world of higher education student information systems (SIS). As expected, adoption rates by institutions of native cloud-based SIS platforms has been quite slow. Workday is nearing the finish line of its product roadmap, and with the most recent release of Workday Student is bringing Financial Aid packaging to administrators. As we covered previously, some institutions have held out on becoming a pilot participant in the development process, instead waiting for Workday to complete more features.
Eduventures expects many more institutions to come online with Workday Student in 2017. In addition to the 10 or so early adopters of Workday Student that will be completing their migrations and adopting the most recent modules like Financial Aid, new institutions will begin to sign up for Workday Student now that they can make a true feature-level comparison between their incumbent platform and Workday’s shipping product. We expect to see rapid growth in Workday’s SIS market share, followed closely by other native cloud solutions from UNIT4 and Campus Management.
Salesforce – Filling Out the Student Lifecycle
Salesforce is another well-known brand with potential for mainstream adoption by higher education in 2017. The company already hosts over 1,000 institutions at its higher education summit each year, but most of them are only using Salesforce at the bookends of the student lifecycle: in admissions and advancement. Salesforce promotes its platform as the definitive enterprise constituent relationship management (CRM) solution for higher education. Until recently, institutions that have wanted to use the platform for all aspects of student engagement—including student services—have been left to customize the platform on their own or hire expensive consultants to make the generic Salesforce platform fit their needs.
Recent product developments by Salesforce will make it much easier for institutions to deploy the platform enterprise-wide starting in 2017. This includes an update to its unified higher education data architecture, known as HEDA, that includes common definitions for objects like courses, terms, and student relationships with faculty and staff. Building on this new capability to articulate student relationships, along with tools for embedded analytics and dashboards, Salesforce recently launched a new product for student advising, the aptly named Advisor Link. By investing in tools for student success and retention, Salesforce is bolstering an area of its platform commonly cited by institutions as critical for enterprise-wide adoption of CRM. These advancements are sure to cause a surge in new adoptions of Salesforce by institutions, particularly in areas such as academic advising and career services.
Chalk & Wire – A New Portfolio for Career Services
In the crowded market segment of electronic portfolios, or ePortfolios, Chalk & Wire’s approach to rubric-based portfolio assessment is one of the most well-known and trusted in the industry. Along with products from companies like Digication and Taskstream, ePortfolios have become synonymous with evidence-based learning within the classroom environment. As we have recently covered, ePortfolio platforms are now expanding their reach into other areas of the student lifecycle such as admissions and career placement. Yet not every platform that was originally built for the classroom will work in these new areas.
Chalk & Wire is stepping up to meet the call for ePortfolios that fill these new use cases by creating an entirely new platform from the ground up. Called MyMantl, it will use the best aspects of existing assessment products, combined with a comprehensive badging platform and access for employers to review the work of qualified applicants. Chalk & Wire recognized that legacy platforms may not be the best at solving the latest issues faced by employers and institutions for career placement activities. For that reason, they are worth watching in 2017: to see what the employer community’s reaction will be to a badging platform tied to a lifelong learning ePortfolio system.
Modo Labs – Plug and Play Mobile Apps
In our search for the killer mobile app in higher education, we reviewed many offerings from (learning management system) LMS vendors, and stand-alone apps from third parties. One approach that stood out to us in terms of meeting a need for white-labeled, institution-branded mobile apps was the mobile platform provided by Modo Labs. Institutions can assemble custom mobile apps from pre-built modules that leverage data application program interface (API) connections to their LMS, SIS, or CRM platforms. The technology also leverages native mobile device capabilities to provide notification beacons, geo-fenced classrooms, and scanning of codes for campus events. Modo Labs’ platform is now reaching maturity, with an established developer community that is extending the framework with modules most sought after by the clear majority of institutions—and their students.
As Millennials, and increasingly Generation Z, bring their mobile internet of things to college campuses, an institution’s brand will be helped (or harmed) based on how ready they are to meet expectations for a mobile-connected student experience. Since there isn’t a single one-size-fits-all mobile app for the student experience, Eduventures believes that institutions will instead turn to mobile development frameworks like the one provided by Modo Labs to quickly build out a student experience, to invest in that experience, and to keep it current as student use of mobile technology continues to evolve.
Noodle Partners – Integration Tax Relief
Noodle Partners is like other online program management (OPM) solutions, in that it helps institutions launch online degree programs while providing technical and support services to support enrollment, persistence, and student outcomes. Noodle brings a completely fresh approach to online degrees, both with its fee-for-service model and a pre-screened cohort of technology providers. Noodle wants to create a cohesive online offering where schools can leverage in-house components but also combine them with this ecosystem of technology vendors and instructional design services provided by Noodle Partners directly. In October of this year, Noodle Partners raised an additional $4 million to expand its current operations.
Eduventures believes that Noodle is worth watching, in part because it is always interesting to see how edtech companies spend their latest capital raise, but mostly since its approach to service provider integration makes it easier for institutions to pick and choose the best technology without suffering the dreaded integration tax. Driving this approach is a white-labeled data integration platform called Noodle Bus by iData. Realizing that data integration between on-premise institutional systems and the cloud-based services typically used by OPMs can be a confusing and costly part of any online program launch, Noodle built standards-based interfaces for the technology platforms in its ecosystem of solutions. This allows institutions that choose to partner with Noodle to focus more on the content and design of courses rather than worry about whether data will flow seamlessly between the LMS, SIS, or analytics platform in a timely fashion.
The Year Ahead
These five vendors represent only a small window into the changing edtech market. In 2016, Eduventures accelerated our coverage of edtech vendors, profiling over 150 new vendors in our Deep Dive Reports, webinars and Tech Alerts like these. Later this week, we will release the Higher Education Technology Landscape Report 2017—a follow-up to our 2014 effort at demystifying the market for technology leaders looking to purchase new products and services. Additionally, with our own new interactive tools under development, our clients won’t need to wait months (or years) to see the latest version of our landscape report.
We are always looking to profile technology vendors focused on the higher education market. If you are aware of a technology solution that could have a substantial impact on teaching and learning in higher education, please let us know so that we can include its profile in our reports and interactive sites.