AOL, ClassesUSA Partner on Learning Site

NEW YORK America Online and degree portal ClassesUSA.com have partnered to provide AOL members with a directory of accredited online degree and certificate programs. As part of AOL’s Research & Learn site, members could access ClassesUSA.com’s list of more than 100 of the nation’s top colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

The partnership also provides AOL members access to content and in-depth articles about online degrees, financial aid and accreditation. “We wanted to offer something that isn’t out there today—an informational resource connected with a first-tier provider of aggregated offerings of online schools,” said Martin Moe, vp of AOL’s life management unit.

According to educational research firm Eduventures, more than 1 million students will enroll in online learning programs by 2005. The online learning market is expected to grow more than 38 percent in 2004, to $5.1 billion in revenue. AOL plans to leverage those numbers with its upwardly mobile audience, said Moe.

The partnership is part of an overall revamp, to be finished in early 2005, of the Research & Learn site, which includes more content in its K-12 and college prep areas. “Our strategy is to partner with providers of content, and work with them to use AOL’s huge audience as a marketing platform,” said Chris Johnson, executive director, AOL Research & Learn.

For ClassesUSA.com, based in Staten Island, N.Y., the AOL partnership is its most significant deal to date, said its CEO, Jordon Keltz. As proof, for Friday morning’s launch, an ad posted on AOL’s home page had already attracted 1,000 inquiries from AOL members, about an 11 percent response rate, said Keltz.

The 4-year-old company has a similar deal with MSN, and is looking at other big portals to partner with, said Keltz. Future plans include a bi-annual national magazine, Online Degrees, set to hit newsstands in March 2005. The company had previously published Succeed magazine, which it parlayed into ClassesUSA.com. “The site generates 150,000 leads per month for our partners,” said Keltz. “We hope to translate that success onto the newsstand.”