Like other products we buy, OpenApply is a product we purchase to improve our lives – in this case to automate our Admissions. It also however, has the power to improve the product of our endeavours.

In order to achieve this potential, we must first try to define what exactly is our ‘product’ and who are our ‘customers’. For most schools, there will be many and varied opinions and perspectives on the product of a school and who it serves as its customers. Some schools may even find it contentious to categorise the complexity of education in callous marketing terms. The process does however have its merits in making sure we are not meandering into “marketing myopia” – which in a school context could be strictly administering a set curriculum rather than fulfilling a broader purpose related to student and community development.

In this light, it is worth considering: is the product the physical facilities we offer, the curriculum we teach, the expertise of our teachers, the learning experiences of our students, or the contribution to life-long learning in local and global communities? And are the customers the paying parents, politicians providing funding, companies who may sponsor a programme, the students themselves, or the society in which they will serve as citizens?

When comfortable with the definitions, or at least the developing discussion, you can then then take a look at how to use information gathered through OpenApply for ‘product’ (learning) development and ‘customer’ (student-parent/ community) service. With a better idea of what or who we are serving, we can then consider how we are serving.

Beyond automating our Admissions workflow, OpenApply is helping us gather better student information, develop a deeper understanding of student needs, and deliver better learning outcomes. In order to satisfy Admissions criteria, there are certain things that we need to know about our students or parents. To maximise the benefits of the OpenApply system, however,we must manifest what we want to know about students, to improve their learning. This includes, their level of learning, their learning style, their acquisition of language, their intercultural experiences, and even an insight into their social and emotional development.

Examination of this information, with our pedagogical experts, can lead to the cultivation of our curriculum to deliver differentiated learning experiences, which are tailored to the individual needs of students. Moreover, the information gathered can be used to match students with the specific competences of teachers, and even contribute to planning teacher training and the provision of necessary teaching resources, as needs are identified through developing trends. Collectively, this reinforces the strategic importance of the Admissions Office, as it advances the school’s overall ability to successfully serve its students.

Whatever your “why”, your raison d’être, utilising student information obtained through OpenApply can help deliver your desired educational outcome. Hopefully this has helped you to open up your approach to OpenApply and unlocked some product potential!

About James Teasdale

In October 2016, James Teasdale presented on an approach to using the output from OpenApply to put Admissions at the forefront of strategic importance in achieving a school’s purpose. Prior to applying his profession to education management, James worked in investor relations and marketing across a range of industries from finance to government and sport.

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