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Kinney said it’s unclear how big the market is for the FlexPath concept but added, “There are pockets of students out there for whom traditional higher education and traditional online education are not working.”
FlexPath is just one of the steps Capella has been taking to regain the ground it lost during the recession, when many would-be students lacked the funds for school or questioned whether an advanced degree was the key to getting a better job.
The company tried to step up its marketing as well as its academic program, Gilligan said. In marketing, it tried to switch from direct marketing to using social media and TV advertising to build brand awareness.
In addition, the company has pushed ahead with ventures outside Capella University that aren’t yet making money but are considered to have growth potential.
One such venture, called Sophia, is a social learning experiment in which Capella provides free YouTube-like tutorials for high school students and teachers. A pay version offers videos that enable students to earn college credits.
Capella also has ventured into business training courses. And it is offering courses through a partnership with Knowledge Delivery Systems Inc., a New York-based provider of online certification training, that help K-12 teachers keep their teaching credentials current.
“The innovations outside of Capella University allow us to experiment without constraints, because within a university there are requirements imposed by accreditors and regulators,” Gilligan said. “And, if we want to be a growth company beyond the next five years, we must have some new businesses developing.”
Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553