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Headless CMS for the education industry - Streamline the student experience

Kaya Ismail

The global digital education industry is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over $77 billion by 2028. Schools and universities need to leverage software tools more than ever before in our technology-driven world. Students are demanding modern experiences that allow them to save money and use their favorite devices to learn on the go rather than being stuck in a classroom or Zoom meeting.

In order to facilitate this, education organizations need to leverage omnichannel marketing and engagement by leading the charge for innovation and modern technology. A headless CMS can help solve some of these pain points for those organizations ready to make the leap.

Section titled What is a headless CMS?

A headless CMS is a content management system that decouples the backend database layer from the front-end presentation layer. By removing the ‘head’ of the CMS, it allows the backend to connect to any front-end interface with the help of APIs.

Let’s compare that to a traditional CMS that keeps the backend and frontend tied together in a single system. In a traditional CMS, the content management features like drag and drop or WYSIWYG editing are found in the admin interface, which sits on top of the database and is connected to the front-end layer.

Traditional CMSs are ideal for publishing content to one channel like a website or digital portal, which many education institutions might use. On the other hand, a headless CMS opens a new realm of possibilities, distributing content to any channel.

A simple illustration showing the differences between Traditional and Headless CMS - Explained as text in a table below.

Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS

Section titled Do you need a headless CMS for your university or an education organization?

Deciding on if you need a headless CMS for your institution may come down to a number of factors, such as where you publish your content and what your existing technology looks like. For smaller education institutions with a few thousand students and a simple website that displays business information, a headless CMS might not seem like the most critical investment at this time.

Yet, for education institutions that cater to a larger audience, a headless CMS can open new doors by allowing you to publish content to mobile applications, launch content for smart speakers, and enable students to view lectures and interactive course material on multiple devices.

Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS
Traditional CMSHeadless CMS
Alternative nameMonolithic CMSAPI-first CMS
HostingUsually self-hostedSaaS with self-hosting options
ChannelsOne channelMultiple channels
Content modelSigular useReusable content
IntegrationsUsually an all-in-one suite productFacilitates a best-of-breed approach

Section titled Why choose a headless CMS? Key benefits for the higher education industry

Online learning continues to evolve as educational content becomes more readily available for students of all backgrounds, and a headless CMS can help organizations compete in this changing landscape. Some of the benefits include:

Section titled Better student experience

Nowadays, students don’t need to be restricted in where they can learn, but a headless CMS ensures that the experience they receive is top-notch. Education institutions can create Alexa skills, launch interactive courses using augmented and virtual reality, deliver content to mobile applications and launch intranets and student portals that can be accessed on any device. The student experience with a headless CMS is multifaceted and omnichannel.

Section titled Less maintenance

Unlike some traditional CMS systems, a headless CMS removes the constant need for frequent maintenance and updates. With less time worrying about upgrading, education organizations can focus on building content.

Section titled More flexibility

A headless CMS provides greater flexibility for education organizations, allowing content to be distributed to a number of devices, making it easier to integrate with other systems like a learning management system (LMS) and more.

Section titled Lower costs

With less maintenance required, integrations and tech adjustments are easier and thus cheaper. A headless CMS can also be deployed as a SaaS system meaning that there is no need to host the software on-premise.

Section titled What can you build with a headless CMS?

The options for building content experiences with a headless CMS are some of the most relevant ones for the education industry.

- Websites: Primary websites can be built using a headless CMS, delivering a great experience using various content assets.

- Mobile apps: Build apps that complement the website and allow students to log in to their accounts and find course information, payment details, and more.

- Alexa skills: Creating content for smart speakers can streamline much of the on-campus and off-campus student experience, allowing them to find out the lunch menu, listen to the latest announcements, and more.

- Intranets & learning portals: Launch student portals where teachers can store content assets from lectures and additional resources.

- AR & VR learning experiences: Gamify the learning experience by creating augmented and virtual options for students.

Section titled Education organizations that went headless

How do you know if it’s time for your education organization to go headless? See some of the success stories of others that have already done it.

Education First provides a variety of educational products and services, schools, and more to students worldwide. Using a headless CMS, they built a global site that contained over 9000 pages of content, including over 50 language variations.

New pages can be created and launched in under an hour, and the user experience has improved tremendously since adopting a headless CMS. With greater flexibility and the ability to leverage modern frameworks such as Next.js, EF has seen incredible benefits since going headless.

Other education organizations such as UCD Professional Academy and Mindvalley have also seen the benefits of adopting a headless CMS.

Section titled Storyblok: The headless CMS for the higher education industry

Companies in the education industry have to find new ways to stand out, especially with the growth of online learning options for students.

Storyblok is a headless CMS that can help education institutions stand out from their competitors by arming marketers and developers with the tools to launch engaging digital content experiences on any channel. Education organizations can benefit from a host of features, including:

  • A unique component-based approach
  • User-friendly content editing using a Visual Editor
  • The ability to launch an internationalization strategy for different audiences
  • Easier content delivery and integrations using APIs

Would you like to give Storyblok a try? Sign up for a free account right here, or contact our sales team for a personal meeting.