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Inside Higher Ed - The Pulse: Lee Johnston of Strut Learning

This month's episode of the Pulse podcast features an interview with Lee Johnston, CEO of Strut Learning. In the conversation with Rodney B. Murray, The Pulse's host, Johnston discusses the company's learning management system focused on subscription offerings and competency-based learning.

What is a Strut?

The introduction of the podcast focused on Strut’s mission to innovate and elevate online learning. What’s in a name? I wanted to make it clear that, “Strut” is a Noun, not a Verb”. We selected the name Strut because it’s a supportive structure. Architects leverage struts to create amazing buildings, bridges. Virtually every structure created by humans leverage the power of struts. Strut communicates support for innovative educators to create the future of higher education.

The conversation briefly turned to a high-level overview Strut’s ecosystem. 

Strut Learning’s Ecosystem

  • Cognify - next-gen learning management system
  • Certify - analytics enable automations and powerful diagnostics
  • Advanced Analytics and Automations - designed to scale success
  • Connect - magical, zero code SIS integration and automation
  • Compose - rapidly author engaging and rich digital courseware 
  • White-labeled Degree Programs - high-quality, accredited in two regions 
  • Subscription Programs - growth is fueled by flexibility and efficiency  


The proof in how Strut supports client innovation is really easy to find. U.S. News and World Reports, named the University of Maine at Presque Isle as the 4th “Most Innovative” in the north for 2020. When you consider how many innovators there are in the north region, I think this really speaks to impact of Strut’s support for educators who strive to advance the art. The $2.25M Department of Education grant hammers home this point.  

Advances in Flexible Learning

What’s Strut’s role in fully funded employer programs? First, employers and students have high expectations on both program quality and the actual learning technology experiences. Flexible subscription based models present clear benefits along with challenges. How is student progress tracked as individuals move at different speeds?  How do faculty efficiently manage tasks in an asynchronous learning environment? Can you really effectively teach online? Strut developed a series of very tightly integrated solutions to solve these challenges and more. We set forth to create a hyper efficient learning and teaching experience that exceeds expectations. 

Examples of real advances in online learning include:


Workflow -

Workflow -

Interactive Discussion Question (IDQ)

Interactive Discussion Question (IDQ)-

Enrollment Growth

Transformational forces are reshaping the higher education landscape.  As online learning’s popularity grows, there’s an urgency to close real gaps between on ground, blended and online learning. My view is, we're at the leading edge of a structural shift in higher education. This is driven by employers, OPMs, philanthropy, and the expectations of millennials and generation Z. In parallel, GUILD, Lumerit Education, InStride, Pearson, and mega universities such as ASU, Purdue Global, SNHU, WGU, etc. are also changing the shape of the educational landscape. 

Strut is at the center of this transformation. Our partners have created a considerable addressable market for flexible subscription-based programs by working with some of the world’s leading companies. Through Strut client partnerships, employees at Walmart, Disney, Discovery Financial, Taco Bell, Chipotle, now have access to flexible learning opportunities that match their busy lives and career goals. Starbucks makes up 27% of ASU’s online students. Brandman Universities MyPath program is growing at an annual rate of 71%. With “fully funded” degree programs, employers get an exceptional ROI. Flexible degree programs on Strut enable employees/students to manage a college schedule while working full-time effectively and smartly adjusting to “unexpected” life events. The bottom line, if you’re going to succeed and grow, flexible subscription-based programs are the key. And Strut enables innovators like University of Maine, Brandman University, Calbright College, University of Louisville, Central New Mexico Community College, Lipscomb University, and other notable institutions to deliver flexible subscription-based programs with:

  • Benchmarks - a smart and efficient method to track individual students or cohorts within a self paced environment. 
  • Learning Nodes - move away from fixed models to dynamic learning concepts with active maps to assessments, curriculum, and much more. 
  • Personalized Learning - an immersive experience that enables real-time remediation. 
  • Risk Event Timeline - We felt so strongly about student success, we integrated Early Alerts, including automated/personalized email into every aspect of the Strut Learning ecosystem. 
  • Skills Maps - track the Blooms progress of learners for both hard and soft skills over a single course, or series of courses, and even an entire program. 

The number of "Fully Funded Degree" programs is growing, and so is the impact on the overall addressable market.

Employee Counts:
  • Walmart* - 1,500,000
  • Taco Bell* - 210,000
  • Disney* - 201,000
  • Starbucks - 191,000
  • Chipotle, and hundreds more...

There are more "Fully Funded Degree" deals, but let's stop at 2,102,000. The trend is crystal clear - and Strut provides its clients with a distinct advantage to access this new market. Walmart has 1.5M employees in the U.S. How many Walmarts does your community have?

There are more "Fully Funded Degree" deals, but let's stop here at 2,102,000. The trend is crystal clear - and Strut provides its clients with a distinct advantage to access this new "Fully Funded Degree" market.

Walmart, Disney, etc., CBE students leverage Strut. With our accredited white-labeled "complete" degree programs, we can get your institution to market in 100 days, and open the door to new opportunities, i.e., Fully Funded Degree" programs.

Consider this point. Walmart has 1.5 million employees in the United States. How many Walmarts does your community have? Because Walmart employees can attend Brandman University, Bellevue University, Arizona State University, and other notable institutions for “$1 a day”, and that includes FULL tuition and books, and all fees are covered. With that, what are the chances any of the 1.5M Walmart employees will attend your institution? Bottom-line, “fully funded” degree programs are crucial to enrollment growth. And Strut's next-generation ecosystem, with its white-labeled programs, can get your institution to market in a 100 days, and open the door to new opportunities.


*Strut Learning partners with Brandman University.

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