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16
Aug

5 Things Universities Want From OPM Providers

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

What do universities want from online program management providers?

I have no idea.

Ask me what I want in a potential OPM partner, and I’ll talk your ear off.

But search for any research on how universities evaluate the decision to partner with a for-profit company to build, market, launch and run a new online degree program — and you will be mostly searching in vain.

The growing phenomenon of nonprofit/for-profit partnerships in postsecondary online learning needs research attention. We need to move OPM analysis out of the world of for-profit consulting companies and higher ed blogs. We need to investigate the changing way in which higher education programs are financed, including the OPM partnership model, involving scholars who are committed to independent and sustained research.

For now, lacking the research, I’ll share some of my own OPM opinions. You can let us know if your thinking, and the thinking at your institution, aligns with my own.

Here are five things that I want to see from OPM providers:

No. 1: Higher Ed People

Higher education is a business built on relationships. We are more like an ancient guild than a modern industry. The decision to make a life in higher education is not a rational one. Nobody in their right mind would choose a higher ed career on a pure cost/benefit calculation. Higher ed people are, above all else, mission driven. They are true believers in the potential of higher education to improve the lives of our students and to contribute to the making of a better world.

It would be great if more people who worked in online program management companies came from higher ed. If they built their relationships and networks while working for a university. It is not that we don’t trust people from outside academia. It is just that we don’t trust people from outside academia.

This might be our blind spot. Higher ed people don’t have a monopoly on being mission driven. Still, too few professionals in the OPM business seem to have previously been in higher education leadership roles. If partnerships with OPMs really do benefit our institutions, our students and our faculty, then more higher ed people should be wanting to work for OPMs.

No. 2: Flexible Unbundling

The only reason that a university would partner with a company to do an online program is that, for some reason, we can’t do it ourselves. What we can’t do ourselves varies from school to school, and surprisingly even within schools.

In some places we need the whole enchilada. We need the start-up capital. The instructional designers and project managers and video educators. We need the marketing and outreach to a population of online learners that we are not experienced reaching. We need the learning platforms. The student support.

Mostly, however, we don’t need all that. We need some but not all of those things. And what is needed might be different for different parts of the university. One division, school, program or major might be really good when it comes to instructional design. What they need most is marketing. Another area of the institution may not have the instructional designers, but it is well set up to support enrolled students.

A good OPM will be flexible in their partnerships. It will have options between revenue share and fee for service. It will unpack the partnership in a way that can work best for the institution.

No. 3: Capacity Building

Too often, OPM providers lead with money. How much revenue the new programs might deliver to the schools. Money is good, but it is only one part of the equation.

What we really care about is the long-term resilience of our institutions, and our ability to meet our strategic goals and to support our larger institutional missions. Online education is integral to how education is changing. Online programs provide opportunities to not only bring in new (much needed) dollars, but also to build new institutional capacities.

Online programs can serve as amazing opportunities for faculty development. Pair a professor with an instructional designer and watch the magic happen. What faculty learn in developing and teaching online courses can be translated into residential teaching and learning.

Outsourcing the core functions of an organization is always a bad idea. Outsourcing the teaching and learning function of a university is always a bad idea. OPMs need to learn to work with universities to use any partnerships around online programs to advance all learning.

No. 4: Transparency

One difficulty that schools have in even thinking about investigating a partnership with a company to start a new online program is our lack of information. We just know so little about how past OPM partnerships have played out. There is no good source of independent data — even if the data are anonymized.

There is no database that aggregates all OPM partnership arrangements across all the different schools and that would allow for a data-driven analysis of how well these arrangements work and which OPM might be a good fit.

Beyond a lack of outcome data, our ability to examine the contracts between peer schools and OPM providers is limited. We don’t really know how to negotiate a fair deal because we don’t understand how other schools have gone about setting up these partnerships.

The lack of data leaves us to rely on conversations, snippets of information and what the various OPM companies tell us. This inability to make data-driven decisions hurts everyone. It slows down the process. It makes schools that should consider an OPM partnership fail to even begin a project to look at options. A lack of data makes it less likely that partnerships that are begun will work well for both parties.

The only entities that can solve this lack of data are the OPM companies. I would love to see an OPM association that is built around helping higher education make data-driven decisions. This would require a commitment to transparency that I don’t think the OPM industry has prioritized.

No. 5: Diversity

This really should not have to be said in 2018, but judging from what I see in the OPM industry, I’m going to say it anyway. Higher ed people really do care about diversity, inclusion and opportunity. We believe that diverse perspectives are necessary for healthy teams and well-run organizations.

Our students are increasingly diverse across every demographic and social dimension. A potential OPM partner whose work force is not diverse is a demonstration of the values of that OPM company. We are unlikely to partner with anyone who does not share our values.

Again, these are the five things that I’d like most to see from a potential OPM partner.

What would you like to see?

How do we get the research started that would help us make some more definitive and representative statements about how schools and OPM providers might better work together?

Where do you get your OPM information?

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Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

08
Feb

From 985 to World Class 2.0: China’s Strategic Move

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

The intensifying global university and subject rankings have had a far-reaching influence on the development of China’s higher education policy.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

09
Feb

Logging from Your Java Applications By @Logentries | @DevOpsSummit

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in General

Logging from Your Java Applications By @Logentries | @DevOpsSummit
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Read a lot more on SYS-CON Media (press release)

Nepal, Repulsive Untouchables: &#39Chhaupadi&#39 The Vile Curse That Lives Inside
… following the delivery. As significantly as science has advanced and in spite of the fact that scientists are now in a position to location males below simulation to experience comparable pains, we will by no means be capable to comprehend the complete approach that girls will have to go by means of …
Read much more on Eurasia Evaluation

Did the Supreme Court accidentally permit states to decrease the drinking age with
The 21-term lawmaker has a PhD in biophysics from Yale as effectively as an MPA from the Kennedy School at Harvard. In the 1970s, she reformed the state&#39s laws to demand gender equity in … She believes that men and women 18 and more than must be served at bars. It&#39s …
Study far more on Washington Post (blog)

01
Feb

Opinion: Separate Education from Research Budgets

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Career Planning

Opinion: Separate Education from Research Budgets
Third, graduate coaching ought to be changed to contain preparation for non-academic careers, due to the fact not all trainees could be absorbed into staff scientist positions, nor would they all want to be. Rising awareness about non-academic career …
Study far more on Scientist

New postdoc report covers familiar ground
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Read more on ScienceCareers.org

22
Jun

Studying Net Evaporation from the Eastmain-1 Reservoir

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in General

Studying Net Evaporation from the Eastmain-1 Reservoir
The IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy14 was an important document in assessing the potential for renewable energy sources to replace fossil-based fuels and included the volume of water needed to generate energy. That review identified only four …
Read more on HydroWorld

PROF. BONIFACE EGBOKA: Biafran experiences taught me to fight for justice
Egboka joined UNIZIK as a pioneer lecturer and at different times, appointed Head, Department of Geological Sciences, Dean, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Director, Continuing Education Programme (CEP), Dean, School of Post Graduate Studies and Deputy …
Read more on Daily Sun

Opening to the world
For public universities with many students from all over the country, adequate on-campus housing becomes even more important. Let's go back to UUM. Its specialization is reflected by its different undergraduate and graduate degree programs around …
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