When HeatSpring students purchase a course, they get access to the course materials as soon as they enroll and for one year (365 days) after their class session ends. After the year of access expires, students can optionally extend access to the course materials with a HeatSpring Membership. Membership currently costs $19/month and one membership subscription unlocks access to all the student’s past courses.
We developed HeatSpring Membership because, while we have always stated in our terms that course materials are only available for one year, we have experimented with allowing students to continue to access the materials after the year expired. We found that many students continued to access their course(s), months or even years after taking them. While we loved that students were doing this as it is a testament to the value of the courses, we noticed that this ongoing use was costing us a lot of money over time.
As you might imagine, with tens of thousands of past students since 2007, our operating costs continue to grow for variable costs like bandwith, hosting, video streaming, course material file hosting and downloads. So a student who paid a one time enrollment fee in 2007, may still be incurring variable expenses today by continuing to watch course videos or download materials.
Hence, we developed HeatSpring Membership using cost-based pricing approach. This system has worked quite well as the membership fees help to cover the cost of students who continue to use their course materials long after the instructor-led session has ended. It also helps us to ensure that we are not raising prices across the board and that only the active members are helping to cover the costs they are incurring.
When members no longer need access to the materials, they can cancel their monthly membership and no longer pay the fees. Since they are no longer using the materials, HeatSpring no longer incurs the variable costs of supporting their access.
Since this is a cost-based approach, we do not directly share any of the membership fees collected with our instructors. When a student enrolls in a course, we share revenue with our instructors, affiliates and other partners based on our revenue share agreements. Since a student has already paid for their enrollment, the HeatSpring membership fee only covers the additional costs incurred by using the course beyond the one year of access included in the enrollment.
Instructors do benefit from HeatSpring Membership fees since they also help us cover ongoing costs of supporting instructors. These include reimbursement of instructor-incurred expenses like upgrading their Camtasia screen recording software, purchasing new microphones and recording equipment, or traveling to attend industry conferences. Since instructors are constantly updating their course materials and staying on top of industry trends and innovations, subscribed members help cover the cost of this activity and pay for the privilege of being able to access these updates.