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September 2007 issue

Contents
News
Travel News
Agency News
Agency Survey
Feedback
Direction 1
Direction 2
Special Report
Market Report
Course Guide
Spotlight
Destination
City Focus
Status

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Technology benefits

Schools and agencies have both been quick to sign up to the latest technology in an effort to save money, reach new audiences and remain up to date. Jane Vernon Smith finds out how the latest gadgets can benefit the industry.

Technology has moved forward apace over the past 10 years, during which time the Internet has revolutionised the way business is carried out. The Internet itself has spawned a number of developments, and tools such as Microsoft Outlook alerts and the active desktop calendar, are now taken for granted by many. Networked systems for administration have also been widely adopted.

This latter, along with a content-managed website, is one of the most significant ways in which UK-based agency, Red Dragon Languages, has benefited from the technological revolution. Its content-managed website, which enables staff to update the content of the site without being expert in web publishing software, was built by its own administration with the help of website specialist PRFX Limited, reports Director, David Jones. For those who already have a good working website, an online booking facility may be a sensible next step. Mexican agency, EEM, produced its own software for online bookings, as Renán Herrera, reports. This allows students to deal exclusively with the agency in regard to their applications, and receive status updates. Language school group, St Giles International, began using online booking in 2001, and has been gradually developing and updating its system each year. According to Group Marketing Manager, Lucy Heron, “It can be quite time-consuming and complicated to set up, but, once in place, it is easy to use, for both the student/agent and the school registrar, and has proved a successful tool.”

“Online booking was demanded by potential students because of its ease,” says Richard Tuck, Communications Director at Costa Rica Rainforest Outward-Bound School in San Pedro, Costa Rica. However, from the school’s perspective, after two years’ experience “it still does require a level of knowledge, and computer savvy in order to use it”, according to Tuck. Partly for this reason, not all are convinced that the effort and cost involved in upgrading to an online system is worthwhile. “It would be nice for [our booking system] to be online, but putting it online wouldn’t make our job any easier or faster,” comments Jeremy Clark of the Canadian College of English Language in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Just as students are quick to take up the chance of booking online, they are also using many other new media to communicate and obtain information. New blog-type and networking Internet sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, allow networks to be created and pictures to be shown, notes Tuck, and his school taps into these in order to catch the attention of potential students. “Current students and alumni also use these media to connect to us and to each other, wanting updates. This is good because potential students are connected to alumni who can answer questions about the [school’s] programme,” he explains.

One development that has helped to reduce costs is Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol, commonly known as VoIP, whereby telephone calls can be made using Internet connections. The most well-known of these, Skype, is now used by many language travel agencies and schools and, although Jean-Daniel Jemora of Swiss agency, LinkStudy, finds it “not very useful”, on account of frequent line drops, the general response has been very positive. While Herrera reports that his agency uses it for its co-ordinators and offices, St Giles has begun offering it to students at its San Francisco school, with a view to extending it eventually to all locations. “It’s cheap and [it’s] great,” enthuses Tuck. Meanwhile, Antonio Bacelar Junior, Director of Via Mundo Intercambio Turismo in Brazil, says, “We [have] found [Skype] really effective in cutting costs, as well as keeping [in] more frequent contact with our partners and clients overseas, [and] being able to exchange more information and solving problems more effectively,” he relates.

Customer Relation-ship Management (CRM) is another recent buzzword. From comments received for this article, CRM has made fewer inroads in our industry than VoIP or online bookings, but is transforming the speed and ease of administration for users. St Giles International uses the Infospeed Class system to manage and analyse bookings and, reports Heron, “We have found it much faster and easier to process enrolments and access useful statistical information this way”.

Some businesses have successfully developed their own CRM software, with the advantage that it is tailor-made for the needs of the sector. EEM is one of those who have created its own system in-house, allowing the agency to access information quickly and to store details of prices, programmes and schools and update them annually. LinkStudy has also invested in its own CRM. While this took “a lot of time and some money”, Jemora reckons that it has reduced costs massively. “Without our CRM,” he adds, “we would need at least 50 per cent more staff.” The system includes a number of tools. “A great feature is called ‘activities’ – it tells you exactly at what point the whole process of the enrolment is, [whether] it’s been done, [whether] it hasn’t, when it has been done [and] when it’s due to be done.”

Views vary on whether new technology has lowered or increased overall costs. Clearly, this depends to some extent upon which technology is used. According to Tuck, VoIP is the only technology that has reduced costs for his school. “The rest have increased, but it has been minimal,” he calculates. Chloe Pacheco of Mexican language school, Centro de Idiomas del Sureste in Merida, reckons that her school has benefited financially from its technological investment, having lowered the cost of paper and supplies, while, simultaneously, the same staff have been able to handle an increasing number of students. For Heron, on the other hand, it is a fine balance. “New software has made us more efficient, thus contributing to profit,” she says, “but we think overall that keeping up with technology has increased our costs.”

Regardless of the cost benefits or otherwise, the majority believes that the effort and cost involved is thoroughly justified. Not only does the use of new technology make schools more attractive to students, but, as Bacelar points out, it is a good way to reach clients in the first place, and helps both schools and agents to be more efficient. Nick Tellwright from Study Group is a great believer in the benefits of new technology. “We believe that technology can enhance the student experience enormously,” he says. “We are sure that multi-media websites, integrated application systems, technologically enhanced classrooms and digital curriculum aids will all become more important in ensuring our students are happy and successful.”

There are, nevertheless, a couple of warning notes to be sounded. “It is important to do trials on new technologies, to see if they fit your operations and budget. Don’t just go out and buy,” counsels Pacheco. Before we all get too carried away, meanwhile, Clark draws attention to the potential impact on global warming. “We are trying to reduce our impact by 30 per cent in the next two years, so when we buy new technology it will have to be energy-efficient,” he underlines.


Tools for learning

Leaving aside the various tools used in the administration of their business, many language schools today are employing an array of high-tech systems and software to enhance the learning process. As Lucy Heron, Group Marketing Manager at language school chain, St Giles International, points out, “Only a few short years ago, to be at the cutting edge of the industry it was sufficient to offer free Internet cafés at all centres. Since then,” she reports, “we have adapted year on year, offering, first, plug-in points for student laptops, then wireless Internet access throughout all our schools, and, most recently, looking at such innovations as Skype.”

The possibilities offered by computer technology are expanding all the time. Wireless connection to the Internet for use by students and staff, both in and out of the classroom, has been a hit at Centro de Idiomas del Sureste in Merida, Mexico. Spokesperson, Chloe Pacheco, comments, “Everyone loves it and it keeps us from having to provide many computers, since people prefer to bring their own laptops.” Meanwhile, Languages International’s two schools in New Zealand are each equipped with a “state-of-the-art” independent learning centre, with computers linked to the school’s own “Learning Web” intranet site. “Our learning centres, where students have fully integrated supervised study and students can interact with teachers and other students on the Learning Web, have been recognised at a number of international conferences as leading edge,” reveals Director Frances Woolcott.

Alongside such advances in computer technology, have come a range of further innovations. Heron notes that St Giles has introduced DVD/video projectors for film showings


Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

Name

Company
Country

Telephone

Email


ASSOCIATIONS / GROUPS
Capls Canada
CLC Canada
Eaquals
English Australia
Fedele
Feltom
Ialc
International House
       World Organisation
MEI-Relsa
Perth Education City
Quality English

EXPOS /
WORKSHOPS
Fedele
Ialc
IEFT- International
       Education Fairs
       of Turkey
International House
       World Organisation
WEBA

INSURANCE
InterGlobal Ltd

TOURIST BOARDS
Cyprus Tourist
       Board
Malta Tourism
       Authority

AUSTRALIA
English Australia
Perth Education City
Southbank Institute
       of TAFE

BRAZIL
Diálogo Language
       Schools

CANADA
Bodwell College
Capls Canada
CLC Canada
College of New
       Caledonia
English School
       of Canada
ELS Language
       Centers
       (Canada, USA)
Eurocentres Canada
Global Village
       (Australia, Canada,
       USA)
Hansa Language
       Centre of Toronto
ILSC
Language Studies
       Canada
National School of
       Languages
Pan Pacific
       International English
       College
Richmond School
       District # 38
Saint Mary's
       University
Stewart College
       of Languages
University Canada
       West
University of Alberta
University of Victoria
Vancouver
       Community College
Vancouver English
       Centre
Vanwest College
Worldwide
       Language Institute
YMCA Montreal
       International
       Language School
Zoni Language
       Centers
       (Canada, USA)

CHINA
Mandarin House

CYPRUS
Cyprus Tourist Board

CZECH REPUBLIC
Global Study
       (Karlov College)

ENGLAND
American
       Intercontinental
       University,
       London
       (Dubai, UK, USA)
Bell International
       (England, Malta)
Bloomsbury
       International
International House
       World
       Organisation
WEBA
Cambridge
       Education Group
Camp Beaumont
Eaquals
English Language
       Centre Brighton
       & Hove
English School
       (Northumbria) Ltd,
       (The)
Globe School
       of English
ILS English Ltd
International
       House World
       Organisation
InterNexus Centre
       for Language
       Studies
Islington Centre
       for English
Kaplan Aspect
       (Australia, Canada,
       Ireland, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       South Africa, UK,
       USA)
LAF
LAL Language
       and Leisure
       (England, Malta,
       South Africa, USA)
Language in London
Language Upon
       Thames
Liverpool
       Community College
Liverpool
       International
       Language
       Academy
London Metropolitan
       University
Malvern House
       College London
Mountlands
       Language School
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
       College
Rose of York
       Language School
Saint Peter's School
       of English
Shane Global
       Language Centres
St Giles Colleges
       (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
       South Africa,
       Spain, USA)
Tellus Group
Twin Group
       (Ireland, UK)
University
       of Manchester
University of Sussex
West London
       Business College

FRANCE
Alliance Française
       Paris
CIPEL
Lyon Bleu
       International
Institut de Touraine
Institut International
       de Rambouillet
SILC - Séjours
       Linguistiques
       (England, France,
       Spain)

GERMANY
BWS Germanlingua
Carl Duisberg
       Medien GmbH
       (England, Germany)
inlingua Berlin
International House
       Berlin - Prolog
Sprachcaffe
       International /
       Languages Plus
       (Australia, Canada,
       Cuba, England,
       France, Germany,
       Italy, Malta, Spain,
       USA)

IRELAND
Alpha College
       of English
American College
       Dublin
       (Ireland, USA)
Dublin City University
       Language
       Services
High Schools
       International
       (Australia, Canada,
       England)
Galway Cultural
       Institute
ISI- International
       Study 65 Institute
       Ireland
MEI-Relsa
Swan Training
       Institute

ITALY
ALCE
IH - Palermo
IH Team Lingue -
       Lecco- Merate

LATVIA
Durbe Ture

MALTA
EC English
       Language Centre
       (England, Malta,
       South Africa)
English Language
       Academy
Feltom
Linguatime
Malta Tourism
       Authority
NSTS

RUSSIA
AMBergh
       Management AB
       (Russia, Ukraine)
Derzhavin Institute
Language Link,
       Russia

SCOTLAND
EAC Language
       Centres and Activity
       Camps (England,
       Ireland, Scotland,
       Wales)
Live Language

SOUTH AFRICA
Cape Studies
EC Cape Town
Eurocentres Cape
       Town
Good Hope Studies
inlingua Language
       Training Centre
       Cape Town
Interlink School
       of Languages
LAL Cape Town
LAL Durban
Shane Global
       Language Centres

SPAIN
Fedele
International House -
       Spain
Malaca Instituto -
       Club Hispánico
Pamplona Learning
       Spanish Institute

SWITZERLAND
EF Language
       Colleges Ltd
       (Australia, Canada,
       China, Ecuador,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, Malta, New
       Zealand, Russia,
       Scotland, Spain,
       USA)
Eurocentres
       International
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Italy,
       Japan, New
       Zealand, Russia,
       Spain, Switzerland,
       USA)
WEBA

USA
ALCC - American
       Language
       Communication
       Center
California State
       University
       San Marcos
ELS Language
       Centers
       (Canada, USA)
Global Education
       Services Inc
Global Village
       (Australia, Canada,
       USA)
Kaplan Aspect
       (Australia, Canada,
       Ireland, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       South Africa, UK,
       USA)
Saint Timothy's
       School
University of
       California Riverside
University of
       California San Diego
University of
       California Santa
       Barbara
University of Illinois
       at Urbana-
       Champaign
Zoni Language
       Centers
       (Canada, USA)



EDUCATION TRAVEL MAGAZINE

AGENTS
Felca

CANADA
Bodwell College
School District # 8
       Kootenay Lake

SCOTLAND
University of Stirling

USA
Lincoln Educational
       Services