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Online Program Management (OPM) is growing by leaps and bounds each year.  New players regularly enter into this space while seasoned organizations continue to improve the offerings and services they provide to higher education institutions.

But with growth can come complexity.  Even for individuals working within higher education, it can be hard to stay on top of what online program management encompasses.  To help, here's a list of the top five things you need to know about this growing industry.

1. Used by Top Institutions

Online learning has come a long way.  What was once seen as the domain of for-profit institutions only, has seen substantial entries into the market by such recognizable schools as Michigan State University, Baylor University, Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Though the specific reasons vary by school, most pursue online program management companies to help transition on-campus programs into the online space, as well as to receive help with marketing initiatives, online enrollment management, and student support.

The solution offered by organizations in this space has expanded considerably, with some OPM's offering comprehensive services including Course Design and Development, 24/7 Helpdesk, Faulty Support and Training, and Student Field Education/Clinical Placement Support.

2. Employees with Decades of Education Experience

Though relatively new compared to institutions that have operated for 170-plus years, the teams working in the online program management space often have Higher Education relevant backgrounds that span decades.

Their backgrounds touch admissions, marketing, student success, course development, web development, and program modeling - creating a robust tapestry of experience for OPM's to pull from.

This results in a positive experience for partner institutions as they receive expert insights and analysis from individuals who can relate to their challenges and opportunities.

3. One Size Does Not Fit All

While it may be easy to assume the solutions provided by online program management providers are of the cookie-cutter variety but they are not.  Different institutions have different programs in nature (not all MBAs are the same).  Key differentiators such as tuition, time to completion, asynchronicity, and accreditation can all affect the appeal of a program in the online marketplace. 

OPM providers are strongest in identifying strengths and weaknesses and tailoring a specific plan to help capture the target audience of potential students for a given program.

4. Innovation is the Name of the Game

The exponential growth of technology impacts every part of our lives and education is no exception.  New technology is constantly changing how we engage with and absorb information.

Online program management exists because of this exponential growth and thrives on the cutting edge of it.  Everything is looked at through the lens of the user experience and how the latest trends can be applied.  From program marketing teams considering the impact of prospective students using voice-search on mobile devices to course design teams enabling proprietary scalability solutions in their development, innovation is at the heart of online program management.

5. The Shift is On

According to an article from EducationDive, around 1,460 nonprofit colleges have some students who take only online classes, of which about 525 partners with an online program management providers to offer them.  Additionally, nearly half of the surveyed college leaders are interested in a partner to expand their colleges' online reach. 

The mood throughout higher education is one of opportunity, even if things may seem challenging for growing enrollments.  OPMs continue to return positive results in enrollment growth as well as pass- and graduation-rates.

You can read more about the future of higher education in our 2019 Prediction article.


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