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Subscribing to Smart: How BenchPrep May Forever Change Education

Now you can sub­scribe to edu­ca­tion like a mag­a­zine or cable.  Bench­Prep’s new sub­scrip­tion mod­el aims to pro­vide all the cours­es you can learn for $30 per month.

Imag­ine if stu­dents had course mate­ri­als for every class that inter­est­ed them just a few clicks away. How much more would they want to learn or be able to learn, for that mat­ter? The up-and-com­ing open edu­ca­tion start­up Bench­Prep is bank­ing on the answer to that ques­tion. With more and more learn­ing plat­forms and open edu­ca­tion resources online, Bench­Prep is attempt­ing to mar­ket a con­sol­i­da­tion of these mate­ri­als for edu­ca­tors and stu­dents through their com­pa­ny. It’s more than a wrap­per they are adding to their website—the inter­ac­tiv­i­ty, among oth­er fea­tures, allows those using Bench­Prep to fun­da­men­tal­ly improve the learn­ing expe­ri­ence of the user.

Build­ing a New Model

Bench­Prep has been around for a few years now and has faced some chal­lenges in find­ing and build­ing an adap­tive API-based learn­ing hub for inter­ac­tive cours­es that links to all the actu­al con­tent. The con­tent will be val­ued by both teach­ers and stu­dents based on how often it is used, adding vari­ety to everyone’s per­son­al teach­ing and learn­ing style and turn­ing Bench­Prep into an “Edu­ca­tion as a Ser­vice” provider to bet­ter ser­vice their cus­tomer base. In oth­er words, where Bench­Prep was charg­ing around $100 per course in the past, they will now be insti­tut­ing a $30 per month sub­scrip­tion mod­el that allows users unlim­it­ed access to all mate­ri­als on the site via com­put­er, phone, tablet or any oth­er device that can access the internet.

Why Can This Work?

Not only does this new pric­ing strat­e­gy work for more stu­dent and teacher bud­gets, but it also allows more cus­tomers to explore all the edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties that Bench­Prep has to offer. Accord­ing to the Bench­Prep CEO Ashish Rangnekar, the old pric­ing sys­tem kept stu­dents from explor­ing new top­ics, which was very much like sign­ing them up for each course per semes­ter in the clas­sic school sys­tem. How­ev­er, with the sub­scrip­tion mod­el users can now branch out and explore unre­lat­ed top­ics that they nev­er knew would inter­est them.

Pos­si­ble Difficulties

The tough part of this new pric­ing scheme for Bench­Prep will be con­vinc­ing col­lege stu­dents it is worth the month­ly fee. Most col­lege kids have trou­ble pay­ing bills for any­thing and are used to get­ting all their books and course mate­ri­als pur­chased at the begin­ning of the year, not on a reg­u­lar basis every month. But col­lege stu­dents are also used to chang­ing on a reg­u­lar basis, like from an actu­al ref­er­ence book to read­ing on a tablet or iPad, so the jump shouldn’t be too jar­ring for each new class of incom­ing freshman.

On the Brink of Becom­ing Big

If this new sub­scrip­tion mod­el is as suc­cess­ful as those ven­ture cap­i­tal firms who invest­ed 6 mil­lion in Bench­Prep in July of this year believe, there are excit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties in the edu­ca­tion star­tups future. Beyond all the stu­dents who are going to all the uni­ver­si­ties around the world that may be using Bench­Prep for their basic course mate­ri­als, the com­pa­ny could one day adapt into a sort of mul­ti-plat­form online uni­ver­si­ty. They would offer col­lege prepara­to­ry or entry lev­el col­lege cours­es, so that the actu­al schools could focus on high­er-lev­el learn­ing. This means Bench­Prep would not only be an open edu­ca­tion plat­form, but a school itself.

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