While reading through daily feeds coming in from various blogs i noticed one made by alootechie on collegematra.com. Education sector for long has seen rise and fall of many information sites. Problem which many of them face are traction within the community.
Collegemantra.com as pointed out a by rajesh a mantra consulting company is doing the directory with student empowerment route which lot of MBA sites like pagalguy.com, coolavenues.com and at one time egurucool.com(before bought being bought over by NIIT) took. See one thing is good is they have got the idea right but have taken the steps wrong. In sense everyone tries to map the navigation and search steps as the way sites in west behave. Although one needs to understand the real audience for the sites. If you are trying to copy coolavenues or pagalguy in terms of product modeled with differentiation on targeting it wont really work. As target audience set is really extreme.
Few facts on education sector which i have gathered based on my experience working with education centric portals.
In india people tend to get the audience targeting wrong. precieve audience which uses the site is totally dependent on type of education information one is looking for.
K-12: This domain you may still find childrens/teachers sourcing information for enhancing education
Undergraduate Program: This is my favorite and most unbelievable fact 70% of information being mined or read on internet as a medium is not by prospective student but by parents,brother-sisters,uncles and aunty the whole eco-system around but the prospective students. So if you go out there and surf the sites which are available catering to this segment are only worth while for 30% of people looking for such information. This is the reason why forums dont work in these sites or ask a student doesnt really make a difference.
Graduate Program: Audience looking for this information is more qualified focus and 85% of time prospective student himself is looking for information.
Profiling of Colleges and matching to users
Lot of people profile the colleges on basis of things like career paths like engineering, B.Ed etc. This means provide information to those people who are already clear on what they want to do in life and reach a source which helps them simplify their play. Though this is again 20% of prospective student population what about the rest of 80% which forms the confused category and is joining any engineering program which they can get in as infosys will surely visit the campus for recruitments or traditionally the engineering program is good for a school so the MBA program offered will also be great. Just becoming a doctor is necessary and it really doesnt matter if they didnt get into MBBS but with degree in dental they feel they still have achieved what they wanted(P.S no offence to dental people and i know dentist makes more money in west but its for my those friends who wanted to become an MBBS and by change went on to become a dentist).
Online models gives us opportunity to create dynamic systems which adapt to type of users and behave on responses to the level of clarity a user has. Though still sites come up with simple interfaces and basic model. I had wanted to do a post on bharatstudent.com but for some reason social networking play is not being used to best of its capability by these new portals.
Opportunity in education sector is immense due to clarity in any one site leading the charge for the vertical. try naming top 10 in the sector and rest all will make sense.