Special Report: As schools close around the world due to the COVID19 pandemic, a new deal for OpenLearning with not-for-profit High Resolves is set to open new doors for the ASX company and for students.   

Higher education software-as-a-service (SaaS) company OpenLearning (ASX:OLL) has made its first move on the high school sector, with a deal that will give it access to students throughout Australia and North America.

OpenLearning signed a usage-based SaaS and reseller agreement with High Resolves, a global not-for-profit, to give it online access amid COVID19 school closures.

“We are very excited to sign this agreement with High Resolves and look forward to working closely with them in the years to come,” said OpenLearning Group CEO and Managing Director Adam Brimo.

“As schools, colleges and universities are disrupted worldwide due to COVID-19, moving education online is a logical step, however, we must not compromise quality in the process.

“This partnership demonstrates that it is possible to transform a face-to-face experience into a highly engaging and effective online experience, quickly and cost effectively, setting the benchmark for online education and providing a model for OpenLearning’s targeted expansion into the K12 [kindergarten to high school] sector.”

Teaching during a pandemic

High Resolves designs and delivers learning experiences around citizenship themes like identity, social inclusion and social justice for ages from kindergarten to high school.

It has engaged over 350,000 students in hundreds of schools in Australia, Mexico and Brazil, but importantly all in the US and Canada.

The two North American countries are currently in varying levels of lockdown that include school closures and are changing the way children must be taught. 

“About six weeks ago, we recognised the possibility of school closures due to COVID-19, and so we began a strategic sprint to find a different way to support our tireless and dedicated school leaders who would be searching for creative ways to continue to engage their students,” said High Resolves Co-Founder and CEO Mehrdad Baghai.

Worldwide many schools are closing, however, due to COVID19 so High Resolves will reimagine dozens of its high-impact experiences. These will be delivered to students online via OpenLearning within six weeks, with support from OpenLearning’s learning designers.

Once launched, the courses will be facilitated by High Resolves’ network of experienced facilitators and tailored to the requirements of each partner school.

As each school is independent and must manage access to meet local privacy requirements, OpenLearning will provision a separate portal on its platform for each school to provide greater autonomy and the ability for each school to trial the platform for delivering their own courses.

An alignment of values

High Resolve says it chose OpenLearning because the Australian company’s values align with its own, as does the educational approach and the drive to deliver quality courses that are cost effective at scale.

“Because High Resolves has set the benchmark for transformative learning experiences, I was initially very sceptical that any online delivery of our programs would meet our expectations and standards,” Baghai said.

“However, following a series of video conferences with OpenLearning, my confidence in both their platform and team grew enormously. We are very pleased to have entered into this partnership agreement with OpenLearning and we are all looking forward to delivering our online learning experiences through this innovative platform next month.”

A critical commercial opportunity

Under the agreement, High Resolves will pay OpenLearning an annual SaaS fee ranging from $50,000 (for 15,000 students) to $90,000 (for 30,000+ students) depending on usage rates across High Resolves’ school portals.

In addition to setting up a portal for each school, OpenLearning will provide 10 days of training and support to High Resolves to take advantage of the unique functionality to deliver engaging, constructive learning experiences.

The portals will be available to each school for one year at no additional cost. However, schools that want to take High Resolves courses online from 2021 onwards will have to pay OpenLearning a SaaS fee in order to continue using the portal.

In a first for OpenLearning, High Resolves’ sales force will promote the retention of schools interested in digital or hybrid experiences next year and their conversion into a paying SaaS customer from 2021 for circa 30 per cent of the estimated SaaS fee of circa A$3,000 per school.

This reseller arrangement has the potential to reach up to 1,000 schools and highlights the scalability of OpenLearning.

High Resolves is well-supported by the Australian Department of Social Services, which announced in May 2019 that it would allocate $6m to the not-for-profit to expand its geographic reach within Australia.

High Resolves is also supported by several large American philanthropic organisations including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Imaginable Futures (formerly part of the Omidyar Network).

High Resolves has received multiple awards including the Good Design Australia Patron’s Award and the Aspen Institute’s prestigious John P. McNulty Prize.

In September 2019, Baghai was named a ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the Schwab Foundation, sister organisation to the World Economic Forum.

This story was developed in collaboration with OpenLearning, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing. This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.