Eric Stoller's blog

| higher education consulting |

Higher Education + Groupon: Shiny and New…or a Legitimate Strategy

11 comments



Groupon - Higher Education Shiny New Tool

From the Chicago Tribune:

National Louis University on Tuesday will offer a Groupon for a graduate-level introduction to teaching course, officials said.

With the Groupon, prospective students can save nearly 60 percent on tuition for the single, three-credit course and earn credit toward a graduate degree, said Jocelyn Zivin, the vice president of marketing and communications for the Chicago-based, private university.

So what do you think. Has National Louis University stumbled upon a legitimate strategy to market their courses or are they just using Groupon as a “shiny new toy” to get people to talk about their school? The tuition break is significant, but will this deal attract students who are interested in teaching?

The course is described as being “tailored for people with no exposure or experience with teaching” and that it was specifically structured for use in conjunction with a Groupon deal. Seems like a PR stunt to me…especially since they make a point of noting that National Louis University is the first “academic university” to use Groupon to “boost student interest.”

It will be interesting to see if National Louis University releases data on whether or not their Groupon experiment actually worked as an incentive for course enrollment. My guess is that National Louis University is elated with the buzz that’s taken place regarding the school’s decision to be the first higher education institution to use Groupon.

At this point, does it really matter if anyone signs up for the class?

Written by Eric Stoller

September 6th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

  • http://twitter.com/annettemartel annettemartel

    I think you’re right about the PR stunt. I also think that in some ways it is a brilliant PR strategy, because it creates a false sense of urgency that if someone was thinking about taking a course like this or enrolling a related graduate program, it basically tells them that they really have no excuse (because it is implied that it will never be more affordable). On the other hand, it smacks of some of the distasteful PR tricks that some proprietery schools use, which also create a false sense of urgency for potential students.

  • http://twitter.com/annettemartel annettemartel

    I think you’re right about the PR stunt. I also think that in some ways it is a brilliant PR strategy, because it creates a false sense of urgency that if someone was thinking about taking a course like this or enrolling a related graduate program, it basically tells them that they really have no excuse (because it is implied that it will never be more affordable). On the other hand, it smacks of some of the distasteful PR tricks that some proprietery schools use, which also create a false sense of urgency for potential students.

  • Gary Honickel

    Interesting. I personally am not a fan of these “coupon” services. They act as a middle person and while it may drive up business, my experience is that a company doesn’t have the ability to handle it.

    The University using it, in my mind, as a large PR student. If a student is already enrolled in that course, they can not use the coupon towards it from my understanding reading the website. Does this coupon expire? What happens if the class fills up and the people buy the Groupon? 

    There are too many questions in my mind. However, like Eric, I would love to see the data on how successful it is. I do not see a long term impact with budgets getting cut and tuition rates needing to go up, I doubt any schools would offer a “coupon” for their tuition. Bookstores and other services (maybe Housing/Dining) might have a use but even then, I still find it hard to believe anyone right now will be able to offer such

  • http://twitter.com/NationalLouis National Louis

    Hi Eric, thanks for taking the time to write about the groupon.  The benefit of the National Louis Groupon offer is that it gives prospective students a chance to take one course and see if they are ready to make the time and financial commitment to follow through with the entire graduate program. There are all kinds of factors in the K-12 world that are really discouraging teachers and people seeking teaching degrees and this offer from National Louis lets potential students understand what the realities are to decide whether they are committed to this profession … and see if they have what it takes.

  • Kenwho

    It is a grad level course, you have to have the pre-requisite bachelers degree to enroll. Who cares what the motivation is? If the school is generating revenue, the students are receiving quality education for less why does it matter if it was a PR stunt or not? Seems like a great idea, I do not understand the reason for the negative tone of the article. Why would this be a bad thing? (I have had nothing but positive experiences using groupon).

    • http://tonyzanders.com Tony Zanders

      The motivation matters because it distinguishes between this for-profit mindset of revenue growth versus the traditional, non-profit mindset of producing qualified teachers (or whatever the career be).

  • http://tonyzanders.com Tony Zanders

    I think its brilliant. While I’m not a fan of Groupon, I am a fan of companies that give practical use cases to cutting edge technologies. Just like every other “shiny toy” however, it should be held to the same standards as the rest, and not be considered a success until the data comes out that it increased enrollment numbers in a course that was previously struggling. I think it will be a great case study for Groupon, and a strong vote of confidence for the use social media in higher education.

    • Kenwho

      Agreed. My point is, why judge this negatively before the data comes out? On its face it seems like a positive “idea” not one to be dimissed right away. I agree that it should meet the same standards as non-discounted classes, but why imply that it will not aqhead of time?

  • ML Sugie

    I think it sounds like a legitimate strategy, if said strategy is to absolutely turn any last vestiges of higher education and learning into a commercialized product-based outcome of money. I mean, c’mon, graduate level courses ON SALE using a COUPON? How does this (en/dis)courage one to view education as a part of becoming a good citizen or simply for the love of learning? Ay dios mio.

  • http://twitter.com/oddthink oddthink

    Great and Late! What’s interesting to me is how educational institutions are quick to jump all over social media and new tech like Groupon this late! My local higher ed institution is trying to find a way to put some course material on Facebook (!?!) since the students are already there. But it seems to me like they are playing to the shiny new penny. As for Groupon, I am a fan and user – great deals at Seattle restaurants on a recent trip – so I understand how they want to help institutions that need “traffic”. It will only have credibility if a mainstream college or university does it? But why not I guess? Here’s an example I just thought of — If Berklee College of Music would use Groupon to promote an online music business course worldwide, for example, they’d probably make a killing! Thanks!

%d bloggers like this: