Online program management (OPM), the partial or complete act of bringing an academic or training program online, can increase the number of users that complete the program. It can also motivate students or participants to be more involved with program activities. OPM can help make a program more social and more up-to-date.
Universities are able to create e-learning solutions like OPM with the help of publishers experienced in developing and modifying content for digital audiences. In return, the publishers typically take a percentage of the profit from the course. According to UncompromisingEdu, an OPM provider usually charges 30 to 80 percent of tuition and fees and gets 50 percent of the revenue from an online course. The OPM provider gives the university services in return, such as student and faculty support, enrollment management and technology hosting.
OPMs are destined to be most effective when designed for both desktop and mobile audiences. Zenith's 2016 Media Consumption Forecast reveals that 71 percent of internet use is now mobile. However, there are some limitations for mobile users, like impediments to writing long essays and viewing videos with extreme detail.
What benefit does OPM have for colleges and universities?
OPM benefits institutions of higher learning by allowing them to enhance education with a number of digital options, including video, animated training and gamification. The e-learning solutions that the OPM offers also enable a university to familiarize international students living abroad with its brand and course offerings. According to Inside Higher Ed, OPM allows universities to increase online enrollment, particularly international student enrollment. Universities charge higher tuition for international students. This adds to the school's profits from tuition.
How can you determine whether OPM works for you?
According to the author of an article in Educause Review, OPM providers can create a standard approach that devalues the education offered. Sometimes OPM providers make it too easy for participants to reap the rewards of the program. There is not enough care taken to ensure that users are getting the education or training they need.
To determine whether the creator of an OPM has the education, resources and experience to develop training or courses, you should compare the education that the users get from the digital experience with real-life academic or professional offerings. It is harder to do this if the OPM supplements rather than replaces a course.
You should also examine the cost for the creation and maintenance of the program. The OPM providers do not always give a university necessary services for free. Whether the services are cost-saving measures depends on their quality. When a university has to turn to another entity for IT support, the OPM may not prove a good value.
There has been much talk that OPMs increase student engagement, improve attendance and participation rates and lead to more students earning degrees or receiving training. A 2016 report by Online Report Card indicated 85 percent of students at public colleges and universities did at least some learning online. This makes it hard to measure whether OPMs are effective. When the majority of students use digital learning in some form, it is not that easy to isolate the efficacy of OPMs.
The best way to determine whether OPM is right for your institution is to look at whether it meets your needs, reduces your costs, and provides your students and staff with the right education. It is a good idea to develop a variety of methods to measure outcomes. The process teaches you to get feedback in a timely and respectful manner from students, instructors and administrators. Every year, as technology advances, you should be able to accomplish more with OPM. Beneficial changes will allow you to collect new information and more fully understand the value of your purchase.