4. Design systems and processes with scalability in mind

Harvard Business School Online has taught 100,000 students in the past six years, magnitudes more than the college reaches with its in-person offerings. To reach students at this scale, Crowley said, educators must “radically” simplify their processes.

As an example, she pointed to the university’s 17-step application process, which was whittled down to just a few steps. The university uses a Salesforce-based system to manage the process, she said, and uses the services of a company called Vantage to machine-grade entry essays in large batches — most applicants can be accepted or rejected within minutes. A service called Descartes Visual Compliance helps the university screen for banned individuals or countries.

Crowley said program designers should try to eliminate 90% of the steps in their processes when converting them to serve students online.

Colin Wood

Written by Colin Wood

Colin Wood is the editor in chief of StateScoop and EdScoop. He’s reported on government information technology policy for more than a decade, on topics including cybersecurity, IT governance and public safety.

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