It’s good news when a new and proudly South African business launches. And it’s even better news when that business is innovative and exciting, rooted in investing in the future of education in South Africa. With these goals in mind, Open Learning Technology (OLTech) created a powerful, easy-to-use student information system (SIS). Its new product is an integrated platform for the management of student information and administration which prioritises productivity in “the business of teaching”. It’s built on the notion that the more involved the instruction, the happier and more equipped the students. And the product of that is a much wider door of opportunity for what’s possible. This is what it’s all about for OLTech – innovation, reliability, integrity, and transformation.
For an education institution to deliver accredited programmes in South Africa, one of the requirements is for it to have an SIS. The criteria that the SIS must adhere to include – but are not limited to – keeping academic and financial records, storing graduation certificates, conducting quality assurance, and ensuring data protection. While many institutions rely on time-constraining legacy systems, OLTech’s SIS is a fully developed and effective system offering time-saving process automation, with a clear and comprehensive structure, allowing users to work efficiently and with ease. It can also integrate with other systems such as learning management systems (LMS) and financial systems to facilitate process efficiency.
OLTech’s SIS offers local (South African) system and functional support to academic and administrative staff including regular system updates and maintenance. They also facilitate training and operational review sessions to promote the adoption of new systems and processes and improve communication between stakeholders. South Africa’s education sector is complex and varied – whether private, public or via an international body, there is much to account for when supporting students. This is the precise area where OLTech has identified a need in the EdTech market namely, educational infrastructure, which is also the area that OLTech specialises in.
Having been part of the Open Learning Group (OLG) for years, the OLTech team has extensive industry experience. They proactively use this experience and knowledge to pre-empt challenges and constantly improve on their service delivery – which is why they have developed a new product that is more “flexible, modern, and streamlined”. Not only have they done the time to get the hypothetical T-shirt, as the phrase goes, but they are in the business of improving upon it by making their own.
Adaptability is furthermore central to OLTech’s business model to cater for a broad range of clients and needs. One of the challenges that the team have overcome over the years is designing a system that supports both distance and remote learning: that is, students who attend the same registered institution but access it from different locations and with varying access to connectivity and electricity, for example. With a thorough understanding of academic management, years of technical experience and well-cultivated industry relationships, OLTech offers a flexible, comprehensive, and future-ready SIS that enables education institutions to remain compliant and ensures that business processes remain streamlined for success throughout the changes of time.
And, of course, OLTech strives to offer competitive pricing for a holistic solution.
A Brief History
OLTech, as it is today, emerged out of a previously internal business unit of OLG, which is a registered private higher education institution.
Both OLG and its sister company, OLTech, have been built up over more than 20 years in response to industry needs and changes. The goal, however, has always remained the same: improving education in South Africa for all.
This is the chronological story of these companies. OLG started off as a services company which worked in a close relationship with North-West University for more than 15 years. OLG was a logistics and administrative service provider to the university, specifically for distance learning and handling all subsequent administration and student information. In this process, OLG developed in two ways.
These two developments materialised into established business units within the existing business. In 2020, the process started to separate these two units to form their own fully-fledged companies with each having its own main purpose and focus. This came to a complete realisation in May 2021. OLG remained a registered higher education institution focusing solely on the delivery of accredited programmes while OLTech became a business in its own right focusing on the delivery and implementation of technology services and systems in service of higher education institutions.
OLG and OLTech have a long history in the education sector. This has afforded both a good stead and a thorough understanding, of the sector, of the administration processes, and of the subsequent support requirements. They used that knowledge as a solid base to present innovative solutions that drive education in South Africa forward. One of which is an innovative solution for distance learning.
During this history of growth and learning as a company, it became apparent that distance learning administration had very different requirements from traditional campus environments. Because students were located across the country, some in very remote areas, it presented challenges. Traditional administration systems didn’t cater for this. OLG’s first SIS, namely eVision, was developed in response to this challenge. Recently, even for on-campus administration systems, the needs have evolved given changes such as social distancing and remote teaching. With COVID-19, alternative means of delivery have been developed, which inherently required new means of operational support. To this end, it has been noted that the market, in terms of student administration and information management, has not responded well. OLTech has identified that as a gap and harnessed the opportunity to invest and develop that space. Thus, a more adaptable and flexible information management system was created that is more responsive to the ever-changing requirements of an ever-changing world, especially where these concern student information management at education institutions.
Partnership with Kagiso Capital
In 2015, Kagiso Capital invested in Open Learning Holdings, the previous owner of OLG and OLTech. They invested in Open Learning Holdings to make a meaningful difference in the education sector.
In 2021, Kagiso Capital acquired OLG and OLTech from Open Learning Holdings, thereby becoming the sole shareholder of both entities. Since its initial investment in 2015, Kagiso Capital has maintained its initial intent and interest: improving education for all in South Africa. Kagiso Capital views OLG and OLTech as vehicles for achieving this goal.
OLTech is honoured and grateful to be associated with a partner and shareholder as credible and reputable as Kagiso Capital, noting the admirable bar that Kagiso Capital sets on integrity. Through its association with the Kagiso Trust, Kagiso Capital also has access to a significant business network which affords a good platform for OLTech to launch from. As a company in the starting blocks, this gives OLTech an advantage.
Current Focus and Impact
OLTech is excited about the opportunity, as a young company, to finally be of service to more education institutions. The prospect of growth paves the way to help improve service delivery to more students at local education institutions.
In the short term, OLTech will be migrating existing clients onto the new version of the core SIS. This is a 6-month process, expected to roll out from July to December 2022. This will be paralleled with a marketing drive for new clients, creating new opportunities for implementation during 2023, taking into consideration the academic calendar.
A Look into the Future
Five years down the line, OLTech sees itself as a successful silent assassin.
OLTech strives to be in a practical position to make a real difference in the day-to-day operations of education institutions. In time, the overall experience of students would be improved because of the ease of administration and access to information. Few people should realise how and why it happened. Rian Breed, CEO of OLTech Ultimately, it’s the student experience that matters – enriched, empowered, and happy. From application, and registration to the day that they graduate and all the touchpoints in between.
One of the challenges that education institutions have is to identify and work with students that are not progressing or perhaps struggling in various ways. Having all student information and records updated and readily available helps student administrators to give individual, relevant attention to more students, assisting with course adjustments or providing support where needed, which ultimately results in the improvement of student success rates.
When it comes to expanding into Africa – does OLTech have prospects to go international? When it comes to expanding into Africa – does OLTech have prospects to go international?
OLTech’s brand is on the rise, and it is a worthwhile endeavour to get involved with. In the age of information and digitalisation, these are skilled pioneers positioned to improve the education experience and bring it through the challenges of our changing world – in a way that powerfully benefits South Africa’s students, and ultimately South Africa’s economy too. If you’re looking to partner, refer your education institution, or simply want to stay updated on the growth of this exciting company – you can find out more on their website, www.oltech.co.za. For OLTech, one thing’s for certain: making a difference is possible.