12
Apr

OPM Companies Should Think Like an Industry

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

This week I’m in Chicago, speaking at the Pearson Higher Education Executive Leadership Forum.

Many of you know — and some of you don’t — that Pearson is a major player in the OPM (online program management) industry. Currently, Pearson has about 45 campus partners and 250 online programs. Many of the schools that partner with Pearson to run online programs, such as ASU, Maryville and George Washington, are here at this meeting.

Unlike most representatives of universities at this meeting, my school is not a Pearson partner. While we have some small, high-quality, low-residency master’s programs in health care delivery science and public health, we have not gone the OPM route in building these programs.

While I am an online learning evangelist, I am also an OPM industry critic.

To Pearson’s credit, it is my critique of the OPM industry that largely motivated the company to have me come speak at their online learning event.

It is not that I’m against the idea of a partnership model. My openness to the idea of school/company partnerships in developing and running online programs already sets me apart from many of my colleagues in the online learning space.

It is more that I’m concerned about the direction of the OPM industry as a whole.

Today, the online programs management industry is fragmented and chaotic. There are few agreed-upon standards of transparency in contracts. We have no independent sources that I know of, aggregating data on both student and institutional outcomes from across all school/company online partnerships.

It is not clear, at least to me, how the different OPM providers in the sector are differentiated from another.

Every for-profit online program management company will tell you that they put the needs of the institution and the learner first. That they are willing to be flexible and nimble. That they know how to build quality programs and market to prospective students better than their competitors. And that their partner schools are not only happy with the partnership, but happier than the average school/OPM provider partnership.

This can’t all be true. Every OPM can’t be above average.

Like universities, the various OPM providers (and there are something like 25) must have strengths and weaknesses.

So I’m here in Chicago to advocate that the OPM players, including Pearson, begin to think about their industry as a whole — rather than only on their own business.

Leadership in the for-profit online learning space means not only building out a range of services that are both attractive to partner universities and serve the needs of students (and faculty), but also advance the OPM sector as a whole.

I think the various companies in the OPM space need to recognize that there is a growing level of distrust among many in higher education about the OPM model. Many people on campuses that I speak with are concerned about the revenue sharing, long-term contracts, and outsourcing of core capabilities (such as learning design) that characterize many school/OPM contracts.

The various companies in the OPM industry also need to recognize that the people (like me) who evangelize the development of new online programs talk to our counterparts at other schools. A bad experience with a single OPM provider can sour us on the model for the entire industry. The presence of bad actors in the OPM space, or at least bad fits between schools and companies, is not a competitive advantage for the other OPM providers.

In short, I think that individual OPM companies need to make the transition to thinking in terms of an industry. They need to focus on growing the potential partnership pie as much as competing with other companies. They need to move toward a middle ground in being willing to share data and methods that today they hold as proprietary.

This is the message that I’m delivering at the Pearson event, and again, to Pearson’s credit, they still invited me to their meeting. I’m hoping to participate in other OPM events and to spend time with other OPM providers.

The work that I’m hoping to do with the OPM industry is motivated by my desire to see more high quality low-residency and online programs. As I mentioned, I’m not against the model of school/company partnerships. In many cases, it makes good sense for a school to work with a for-profit partner. Many institutions simply don’t have the resources, expertise or experience to launch a new online program. Some of the core competencies that the OPM providers have, such in figuring out where unmet student demand exists and in marketing, are not ones that many schools have. (At least for programs aimed at working adults).

We are at the point where the OPM industry needs to evolve. The industry as a whole needs to more closely mirror the values and norms of openness and transparency that characterize the culture of higher education.

As an industry, the OPM companies need to do what they can (through sharing of institutional and learner outcomes) to help schools make more informed choices about partnering (or not) with a company.

I’ll be looking to see which OPM player steps up as a leader in the OPM industry.

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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

16
Jan

Malaysia’s International Education by 2020 and Beyond

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

This entry is based on recent work in ASEAN and South Pacific Island States, specifically to address confusion between international education and the internationalization of education.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

17
Feb

Economist speaks on the economic of immigration

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in General

Economist speaks on the financial of immigration
Economist and author Benjamin Powell visited U of L&#39s College of Organization Feb. 17 to give a lecture on the subject he has been devoted to for more than a decade: the economics of immigration. As a presently touchy subject, students located his fresh economic …
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Rejuvenating reefs
“We discover private investors who don&#39t thoughts if their returns are a little below marketplace rates simply because they are benefiting Barbados,” says Nicolas Pascal, an environmental economist who directs the business. Other pilots are below way in Colombia and …
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04
Apr

Where do digital learning innovation evangelists gather?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

There is a new sort of gig in higher ed: the digital learning innovation evangelist.

Who are these people? What do they do? Are their jobs really different from leadership roles that have come before? What is their professional home? What is their professional association? And where do they gather?

These are all good questions.

One place where I’ll be trying to get some answers is this summer’s SOLA+R: Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable.

This University Professional and Continuing Education Association event brings together folks who are thinking about digital and online learning through an institutional lens.

I’ve gotten involved in UPCEA through my work as an (unpaid) fellow for the association’s National Council for Online Education.

Where does this convening fit in with other meetings for digital/online learning evangelists? I’d classify SOLA+R as a convening that is similar to HAIL Storm (Harvesting Academic Innovation for Learners), in that the event brings together a relatively small number of digital learning innovators to share knowledge and resources and ideas.

Unlike HAIL, which is purely a grassroots effort, SOLA+R is under a larger professional organization umbrella — UPCEA.

The reason that I’m excited about participating in SOLA+R is that I’m looking for a community of practice that recognizes online learning as a powerful lever for organizational change.

Over the past few years many colleges and universities have created these sorts of roles. They go by different names. Sometimes the position is a dean, provost or a director for digital learning innovation.

Other times the role of institutional digital learning evangelist falls to leaders in online and continuing education programs. Sometimes, the push for digital learning innovation comes from units such as academic computing or centers for teaching and learning (CTLs).

While those serving in digital learning innovation roles have different titles and different job responsibilities, they do have some things in common. Mostly, this is a community that is impatient with incremental improvements in postsecondary learning, issues of access, or business models.

This is a community that looks at digital and online learning as a means, rather than as ends. The ultimate goal is not to create more online programs or digitally enhanced blended courses — although those are good — but rather to drive big changes in the way universities fulfill their mission within a rapidly changing knowledge economy.

These big changes may be about bringing quality higher education to scale, shifting the economics of both learning and credentialing from scarcity to abundance.

Or these big changes may mean leveraging the methods of online learning, such backwards course design and partnerships with learning designers, to dramatically improve learning at traditional residential institutions.

Others who work as digital learning evangelists look at digital and online education as an opportunity to improve the resilience and long-term economic viability of the institutions in which they work.

What all the folks working in the digital learning innovation evangelist role need are communities of practice, colleagues and support/resources to do their jobs (our jobs) more effectively.

The June SOLA+R convening will be an important nexus for discussions at the intersection of digital/online learning and organizational change. UPCEA’s National Council for Online Education is dedicated to convening and supporting this emerging community of practice.

One of the advantages that I’ve found in my work with UPCEA is the associations focus on federal and state policy. It is difficult for those of us outside of the Beltway to understand how policy is made that impacts our world of digital and online learning — much less how to have any impact on the process. I expect that the role of government and online learning will be a big focus at the SOLA+R D.C. gathering.

From what I understand, there is still some space available at the June 18-20 SOLA+R convening in Washington. (Although space will not remain open for long, as this is an intimate and intense gathering).

It will be interesting to see if other professional organizations in our space carve out smaller and more focused convenings/organizations to bring together digital learning innovation evangelists.

Can anyone share what is going on with OLC, Educause, WCET or others in this space?

If you, like me, are searching for your people at the intersection of digital/online learning and organizational change then I hope to see you at SOLA+R this summer in D.C.

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24
Feb

Moneyball for Tenure? Not Until Academia Is a Team Sport

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

What does “winning” mean for a higher education institution?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

23
Jan

Higher Education Management in Developing Economies: Mission (Almost) Impossible?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Tertiary education systems in developing and emerging economies have been confronted with an unprecedented “flash flood” of students over the past 20 years.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

09
Feb

The brawl begins

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in General

The brawl begins
Marvel at the jaw-dropping spectacle. Then be concerned. American politics has taken a dangerous turn. Jan 30th 2016 | From the print edition. Timekeeper. Add this post to your reading list by clicking this button. Rolex values your time. Timekeeper by Rolex.
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US major elections
AMERICA&#39S major-election season starts tonight when the parties&#39 loyalists in Iowa say who they want their presidential candidate to be at 1,681 Democratic and Republican caucuses (precinct meetings) across the state. At every Republican caucus a&nbsp…
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The -billion hole in Africa&#39s largest economy
A single answer comes from economists at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). They compared Nigeria to three other resource-making nations that are somewhat less corrupt than it, though by no means squeaky clean: Ghana, Malaysia and Colombia.
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