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How Flatiron School Scaled Student Support While Reducing Costs with Ribbon

“Looking at a list of hundreds of students is incredibly intimidating. Ribbon makes large classes more manageable by filtering down to the subset of students so that we can be strategic about who to focus on when.” - Cynthia, Director of Enterprise Programs at Flatiron School

The Client

Flatiron School

Flatiron School is one of the top-rated coding bootcamps in the country – offering in person and online workforce education in Software Engineering, Cybersecurity, Data Science, and Product Design. The school has helped over 10,000 students and mid-career professionals and is known for providing high-quality, immersive, outcomes-driven curriculum in flexible student-centered formats. The school’s Enterprise program, launched at the end of 2018, allows companies to quickly and easily reskill, upskill and hire-to-train employees with both full-time and and part-time programs tailored to meet the needs of both the institution and employees.


A rapidly expanding enterprise education program

Flatiron School has been delivering bootcamp style education to individuals for over a decade. In the last couple of years, the company has experienced rapid growth in their Enterprise program and their clients now include some of the country’s largest businesses. Unlike individual course enrollments, each Enterprise engagement is unique – with both the curriculum and delivery being retooled to meet the customer’s workforce education needs.

For many companies, this requires specific skill certification programs with staggered start dates and asynchronous learning options. Courses also need to be able to accommodate hundreds of students at a time. To keep learners on track, student-facing staff need to be constantly monitoring individual progress and proactively engaging with students who are falling behind or underperforming on assignments. This level of student focus becomes more difficult at scale.

The Challenge

Reducing costs and increasing scale while maintaining outcomes

The challenge for Flatiron was how to operate at scale on a budget without sacrificing the student experience and superior outcomes that set Flatiron School apart. To meet budget and format requirements, Flatiron needed to tweak their consumer program to deliver the same quality for larger class sizes. That meant retooling the cumbersome administrative tasks the company had in place to identify and support students they originally designed for much smaller classes.

Students are at the center of everything we do at Flatiron School. But in order to best serve them, we also need technology to empower our instructors and program operators. We chose Ribbon Education because they share these same values and are dedicated to building the future tools for student-facing staff. - Pete Barth, Chief Product Officer at Flatiron School

It was imperative to the Flatiron School leadership team to find a solution that would allow their instructors to focus on delivering the best possible outcomes for the students enrolled in their courses. What they needed was a system that would allow student-facing staff to easily track and support those showing early signs of falling behind before it was too late built specifically for scaled online learning.

Flatiron was seeking a solution that would:

  • Reduce costs by not requiring additional headcount or staff hours to manage more students

  • Scale easily to accommodate large class sizes

  • Integrate seamlessly with existing systems and workflows

  • Improve student-staff engagement by equipping staff with real-time student data

The Partnership

Deep industry experience and technical expertise

Flatiron School chose Ribbon Education because of the co-founders Lisa Jiang and Joe Burgess’s expertise and focus on alternative education. “What works for traditional learning institutions does not always work for us,” explained Program Director, Cynthia Minakawa. “Lisa and Joe have been building software in the online education space for almost a decade, and are true experts. They were able to understand our pain points and help us solve them in a way that met both our current needs and helps us fulfill our long-term goals. Working with them was a no brainer.”

The Solution

Supporting learners at scale with real-time data

Setup and onboarding with Ribbon took less than 15 minutes. “Since the dashboard is built into Google Sheets, we already knew how to use it.” said Pat, Instructor at Flatiron School.

Ribbon takes an overwhelming class of hundreds and makes it more manageable

How? Ribbon brings the right subset of students into focus by allowing each user to define their own parameters for when a student will be flagged by the system as “at risk,” leveraging real-time assignment submission status and grades from Canvas LMS. Learners who meet these criteria at any given moment in time are visually called out in the dashboard. The beauty of being built on Google Sheets means staff can slice and dice the data any way they want.

Ribbon makes outreach simple

To follow up with a student, users can select an individual or group of students and compose an email message directly from the dashboard. This saves staff time and ensures timely student support.

3 Reasons Program Operators Love The Ribbon Tracker
  • Saves Time. By freeing all the administrative hours previously spent trying to identify who's at-risk and monitoring assignment status, instructors have more hours to do what they do best – teach!

  • Easy to Use. Built on top of Google Sheets, Ribbon fits seamlessly into existing workflows. The visual highlights makes managing large classes simple.

  • Improves Student/Teacher Rapport. Staff never have to worry that their intel is incorrect or outdated and students get support sooner because outreach is so simple.

The Results

Reduced delivery costs without sacrificing student experience and outcomes

At the end of the day, Ribbon allowed Flatiron to meet every objective for the project. As a result, the school has been able to rapidly expand its Enterprise offering and can show future partners their ability to maintain the highest quality and outcomes at scale.

“Our Enterprise clients expect exceptional outcomes but also have strict budgets. We are able to tweak our programs to meet their needs without sacrificing quality. This wouldn’t have been possible without help from Ribbon.” - Nancy Ziser, EVP Enterprise Sales at Flatiron School


Come learn how you can use real-time student data to provide timely learner support at scale.


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