Picture: Henri Fourie, general manager for Content and Collaboration at Decision Inc.
DATE: 13 OCTOBER 2015
Rosebank College, an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), has increased by 30% its online applications for its programmes as a result of a Web site redevelopment project onto the Microsoft SharePoint 2013 platform. The project was delivered by information management solution specialists, Decision Inc.
The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), one of the leading private higher education institutions in the country is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training offering more than 70 registered and accredited higher education programmes. It is also a subsidiary of ADvTECH.
The IIE has several systems and processes which are driven by its Central Academic Team. This team is responsible for the academic governance and quality assurance of all programmes delivered through the campuses of all its educational brands. These include Rosebank College, Vega, Varsity College, The Design School SA, and Forbes Lever Baker.
The IIE has embarked on a Web site upgrade project for all their tertiary educational brands. This has seen Decision Inc. already converting several of the sites to a SharePoint 2013 platform in order to simplify content management.
“It makes sense to standardise on SharePoint as there is a commonality across these educational brands. With such group-level synergies, maintenance and support for the education content, as well as adding functionality such as the ability to make online payments, is much more efficient,” says Henri Fourie, general manager for Content and Collaboration at Decision Inc.
That said, the Rosebank College Web site still required to be redeveloped with different nuances required to serve its students.
“Generally, the students of Rosebank College pay for tuition themselves or through a loan. The programmes are significantly more affordable than some of the competitor colleges. The college prides itself that once you complete a programme, you will find employment, the graduate empowerment programme at Rosebank College successfully places an average of 6 IIE Rosebank College graduates a day” says Fourie.
With a significant number of students and potential students accessing the Web site, the key element behind the redesign and redevelopment was to drive applications. Rosebank College campuses, situated in Braamfontein, Pretoria, Durban and Polokwane compete with several inner city colleges in their vicinity. The site therefore had to be easy to use and provide a quick and friendly way to apply for programmes offered.
“Fortunately, it was a relatively smooth implementation to migrate Rosebank College to SharePoint 2013. Much of the functionality had already been developed to some extent on the other educational brand sites of ADvTECH. However, there were also a number of new components that had to be created from scratch,” says Fourie.
This included new SMS functionality and a focus on mobile accessibility. The target market does not typically have internet access at home from a desktop and rely on their mobile devices to browse the internet and find educational programmes.
“For Rosebank College, we took a mobile-first approach to development. This means the site is completely responsive irrespective of the device used, whether it be a desktop, smartphone, or tablet device. Additionally, when a student starts the application process but doesn’t complete it in one sitting, he or she will receive an SMS notification with a reference number, allowing them to return to the site and carry on from where they left off. Decision Inc. has also included payment gateway integration into the site so registration fees can easily be paid online,” adds Fourie.
The build took approximately two months to complete with the site going live in June this year. To date, Rosebank College has had fantastic results with online applications increasing by approximately 30%.
“The increased traffic on the Web site is part of an integrated effort by the college, which actively runs many campaigns to drive traffic to the new site including a USSD campaign on mobile phones,” says Fourie.
Rosebank College has already commissioned Decision Inc. for a second phase of the Web site upgrade. This phase will include the addition of a new campus, Polokwane, and the associated programmes for that campus. Adding functionality such as event tracking and enhanced social media integration onto the site’s blog section will be key development tasks.