Jenzabar releases course marketplace designed to 'unbundle' higher ed

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Jenzabar, a publisher of administrative software used by universities, said Wednesday it has a new goal to “unbundle” education through a new online marketplace open to enrolled and unenrolled students.

The Campus Marketplace tool is designed so schools can offer registration for individual, non-credit classes that students can pick and choose without formally enrolling. The software is designed to feed data into other Jenzabar products, including an institution’s student information or marketing systems, to make it easier for universities to keep track of non-credit students.

More schools are creating short-term credentials to both shore up local talent for employers and respond to student demands. Picking apart the traditional degree enables learners to take classes incrementally, Jenzabar founder and CEO Ling Chai Maginn told EdScoop.

“We want to bring both experiences together — we bring the non-traditional part into traditional learning — and we’re able to [bring] the e-commerce experience to publishing courses, course catalogs and to allow learners to easily access and search according to his or her needs,” she said.

Maginn compared unbundling classes from degrees in the education industry to how Apple’s iPod and iTunes products unbundled individual songs from albums nearly 20 years ago — instead of needing to buy an entire record, a listener could pick out the individual tracks they liked. By allowing students to pick and choose courses in the same way, without enrolling in a traditional degree path, institutions can offer greater flexibility, she said.

“Previously, one day before graduation, the student had no value. The day after graduation, suddenly, they had a lot more value,” said Omer Riaz, Jenzabar’s vice president. “Where education is headed today, is students want value that can be demonstrated to the market along the way, as opposed to just on the day of graduation. As schools adapt to that model, they will need to create smaller packaging for their degrees that students can come in and take and that’s what our tool will allow them to do.”

Jenzabar works with more than 1,300 campuses, and the company claims its student information system software options are the “best-selling solutions on the market.”

Maginn said the new software ties into a philosophy Jenzabar calls the “Campus Movement,” an idea that by promoting accessibility and equity through technology, students can “find, learn, and live their true calling.”

“The Campus Movement is our commitment to progress in this important shift [in] the way learners consume higher education,” Maginn said. “We believe that with bold actions, progress is possible to make education affordable, accessible and attainable for everyone.”

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