EDUCAUSE Adds Emerging Edtech Membership for Small Companies, Hints at...


EDUCAUSE Adds Emerging Edtech Membership for Small Companies, Hints at Overhaul

By Sydney Johnson     May 26, 2017

EDUCAUSE Adds Emerging Edtech Membership for Small Companies, Hints at Overhaul

EDUCAUSE, the nonprofit that runs one of the largest higher-ed communities of universities and service providers, is opening its doors (and dropping its prices) for small companies looking to join its ranks.

The membership-based organization is offering a new option for aspiring members: an “emerging edtech membership,” which goes for $750 per year and is available for companies earning less than $1 million per year. It also recently introduced a consultant membership that costs $500 for independents or organizations with less than three employees.

Research and insights are available on the nonprofit’s website for free online, and members have access to exclusive, paywalled content and findings, plus first-dibs and discounts for spots at EDUCAUSE events. But those perks come at a steep price for most companies: $3,000.

EDUCAUSE has made efforts to showcase smaller companies, most notably through the “Startup-Up Alley” at its annual conference’s expo hall. Yet it’s fairly obvious that these are the small players. While the bigger companies and corporate giants enjoy larger, prime real estate in the more heavily trafficked areas, the two-dozen startups are tightly compacted in a small area off the beaten path.

Now, the nonprofit appears to be trying to shift its reputation and accessibility among new companies.

“Players in this [edtech] space offer potential solutions to major challenges,” EDUCAUSE President John O’Brien said in an email to EdSurge. “We want to serve as a resource to these emerging companies.”

Price isn’t all that’s shaking up at EDUCAUSE—the organization says it’s working to change its membership structure in the near future.

Along with the additional paid membership options, the new EDUCAUSE membership will be a mash-up of three of organization’s main offerings: an EDUCAUSE membership, a fee-based research and analysis subscription, and a teaching and learning membership.

Each of the subscriptions were previously available for individual purchase, and starting in July they will be available for a flat fee. (So for member institutions who purchased only one of those options, will likely mean a price increase.)

The new membership option could drive more registrations, and therefore more revenue for EDUCAUSE. But Margita Blattner, senior director of business development, says money isn’t the only idea behind the added tier. Another is that the organization wants to boost its reputation as a bridge between early-stage startups and EDUCAUSE's higher-ed institutional members.

“Our higher-ed peers are already working with emerging edtech and we felt it relevant to attract those companies to EDUCAUSE so they can pay and be involved formally instead of working outside,” she tells EdSurge. “Many forward-thinking institutions want to be on the cutting edge of piloting and testing with the companies, they’re trying to help share the solution.”

A five-year strategy plan also lists goals such as allowing members to “personalize” their EDUCAUSE experience, and to “strengthen the leadership pipeline, including a deliberate focus on diversity and inclusion.” Details on how the organization will carry out these goals or what it might look like for members, however, remain vague.

EDUCAUSE currently has about 2365 partners, which includes 1658 higher-ed institutions based in the U.S., 348 corporate partners and 76 not-for-profit members.

According to Blattner, the need for the emerging edtech membership, and changes to the experience overall, arrived after the organization recently surveyed thousands of both existing partners and non-members.

“Loud and clear we heard from that the smaller edtech emerging companies were not served by the corporate membership tier,” says Blattner. “They need help being onboarded into EDUCAUSE, so we realized we needed to give a price that was sensitive to them.”

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