- Hi everyone, welcome to today's WCET Webinar.
Navigating the OPM Marketplace:
Picking the Right Partners While Avoiding Market Chaos.
My name is Megan Raymond, I'm the director
of programs and sponsorship here at WCET.
As we go through the conversation today,
feel free to add your questions to the question box
and comments to the comment box.
I anticipate that we'll have a lot of questions today.
We hope to get to most of those.
If we don't, I'll pull those out and share them with Phil
and we'll do a follow up blog post.
We'll be sharing the link to the PowerPoint slides
so you can follow along with us.
We'll also follow up with any additional resources
that were shared and a link to the recording
which will include captions.
If you'd like to follow along,
we typically have a pretty active Twitter discussion
and the hashtag is WCETWebcast.
Today we'll go through brief introductions,
background and overview on the OPM marketplace
and services, the current landscape,
then we'll get to a moderated
Q&A as well as audience Q&A,
Hopefully we'll wrap up within 60 minutes.
Again, if you have any questions,
enter them into the question box.
We typically hold all questions until
the end of the presentation,
but feel free to enter your questions
and then if I need to interject
and ask Phil, I certainly will.
So, keep those questions coming throughout.
Again, I'm Megan Raymond.
I'll also be your moderator today.
And our speaker today is Phil Hill
with Mindwires Consulting.
So, Phil is notorious for being an EdTech
speaker, blogger, and market analyst.
He's analyzed the growth of technology
enabled change for educational institutions
for many, many years
and his clients have included WGU,
California Community College System,
Iowa State University, and Pearson Education
among many others.
Phil, I'm gonna ask you to do a brief self introduction
but I wanna lead with a question
that may eliminate a little bit of your past.
But if you weren't the PhilOnEdTech,
what would your previous or other occupation be?
- Well, essentially, I'll call myself
the notorious Phil from now on.
Thank you for that. (laughter)
Well, what I was doing before EdTech,
is I was working in a field with -
It was engineering.
I have an engineering background.
I was dealing with real time image processing systems.
So, I don't know that I could have
stuck with that long term
because I'm just too drawn towards education.
So, if I weren't in this position
I'd be finding some place of chaos to be involved.
Leading some project,
or getting in trouble somewhere.
So, it's a hard question to answer.
- I really thought that your were gonna
answer with a rockstar.
But that's a great answer. - Yeah.
But I'm well aware of my limitations
on skills for myself.
- Well, do what you're good at.
I'll go ahead and pass it off to you, Phil.
- Sure, and just for additional context,
so that people sort of understand my point of view
and where I'm coming from.
Mindwires Consulting, we help organizations
that are dealing with technology
enabled change directly tied to teaching and learning.
So, please don't ask any ERP questions in the background.
We're not dealing with that.
And we try to be neutral market observers
and really trying to help organizations
make good decisions.
So, we try not to come across like we favor
this technology or -
We're vendor neutral is one way to look at it.
But we'll try to help explain things.
And it seems to me that what we've chosen
is we've said, "hey, we need to have a topic today
"that's less contentious than the congressional
"whistle blower testimony today.
"But only slightly less contentious."
In the field of online program management lately
has been incredibly contentious.
And there's a lot of noise that's happening.
So, there's a lot going on.
So, online program management,
I think it's important to try to say,
"can we understand the substance
"and see if we can cut through some of the noise."
Specifically so that schools
and organizations can make better decisions
about what they should be doing next.
Since it's a field that's not very well defined,
I do wanna call out what we mean by that
or you know, the way I'm describing it.
The set of services around a company that's
helping a school either create
or deliver an online program,
the way I've seen it categorized as the most
useful is you have marketing,
and recruiting, and market research efforts
that they're providing for a school.
But not the actual admissions.
That's typically handled by the school itself.
And unfortunately, the marketing
and recruitment market research has been
sort of at the core of this market.
And it's also been a source of some of the,
a lot of push back we've seen lately.
I'm hoping over time
and I believe we're seeing a shift more towards
course and curriculum design as being
a key element in OPM services.
How do you do effective, engaging designed courses
There's also student support services,
call center, help desk, retention,
degree pathway, various support.
Now, that's student but it's also support for faculty.
And then finally technology infrastructure
This industry actually came out of a place
where the LMS provision was an acute part of
what it provided, hosting of a LMS.
These days, in most cases, you have an LMS agnostic view
and quite often using the university's LMS
but still the overall integration of systems
and using data and analytics to inform it.
So, these four broad categories are what we tend to see
as an OPM set of services.
So, I think it'd be good to -
We can't capture all the history
but just say what does the landscape look like today?
If you just kind of say where is the market today
and how do we understand it?
We have this next chart to try to
give a better view of that.
So, with this chart,
and I'm having to put on my glasses
to be able to see it as well,
we're trying to call out -
This is not meant to be comprehensive,
listing every vendor that does everything.
We're trying to give a landscape
so people can understand the high level
of what's happening.
And the traditional market has been known
by the top portion.
So, on the left you have a business model.
You know, tuition revenue share is the revenue model.
Down to fee for service on the bottom.
But also hybrid in between.
And we'll discuss that a little bit more depth.
If you look at what the outcome is,
you have that broadly grouped into degrees
both undergrad degrees and grad degrees.
And as you can see from the landscape,
the core of the market has been in the grad degrees,
particularly the master's level.
But there's also growing emphasis on
nondegree work, certificate work.
And it's even blending over into professional,
Or job entry type of skills.
So, this landscape tries to capture where we are.
The top rectangle,
these are the large customer base
full service OPMs.
It's what people tend to identify with the market.
You have Pearson which had acquired VANET
plus they had their own operation
and so Pearson has a large OPM business.
2U has long had their grad degree programs,
they've also acquired Trilogy
and GetSmarter to broaden out what they do.
And they have a partnership with Keypath as well.
Separate company but they have an investment in them
and they have a coordination.
Wiley, which had acquired Deltak
and has more recently acquired Learning House,
Academic Partnerships, and Bisk Education.
And these are sort of the biggest,
biggest, longest term OPM vendors
that people identify with the market.
They tend to be tuition revenue share,
they tend to be full service.
And clear other elements of the market,
cause the market's changing.
It's no longer just one thing.
So, as you sort of go down,
you do have smaller customer base
that still might be tuition revenue share
and full service.
We have several listed here.
You know, certainly HotChalk, Everspring, iLaw,
I've seen a lot of activity from them lately.
Helix, All Campus.
So, there's a series of OPMs
but they tend to be, they're categorized
a little bit lower just in terms of the size
of their customer base.
But then we have two new areas
that have really come on lately.
One is the MOOC providers, I'm skipping one.
The MOOC providers really got into this market with Udacity
and the Georgia Tech masters of computer science deal.
And they've scaled that up.
But more recently Coursera has gotten in
as a matter of fact, the main business
of several of the MOOC providers is
really as OPM providers.
Partnerships with schools, dealing with revenue share,
or developing online programs.
And this is a model that the promise of it is,
"hey, we can enable lower cost degrees
"because we have to do less recruiting
"cause we have the MOOC larger industry base."
That's the promise of the market.
And then finally, the most recent addition is
really what you would call,
you can call the poor profit conversions.
So, you could think of this as,
this is a little bit interesting.
Orbis was acquired by Grand Canyon as sort of an OPM arm.
And Grand Canyon spun off their university
into a non-profit.
But essentially a form of for profit
is now operating an OPM.
Same thing with Kaplan in terms of the Purdue Global
and other deals that they're doing.
So their are different flavors of OPM.
Down at the bottom you're getting into -
And this is where a lot of the growth is,
a lot of the change in the market
is coming for really are fee for service partners.
Noodle Partners can do full service
or they can do a la carte.
But they really have emphasized the fee for service.
iDesign, Extension, even the LMS providers
Blackboard and D2L do a lot of the OPM.
Again, this is the part where I do not
want to imply that it's a comprehensive listing.
But I wanted to give a sample to show you how much
the OPM market has actually been changing
and the different flavors that are coming on.
Because there's a lot of a narrative
that the market is moving from point A
to point B.
Where as we see it much more as it's expanding in options
and varieties, and models.
And it's getting hard to categorize.
I wanna jump into a little bit more detail
on some of these key points
to help understand that.
So, with the first one,
we'll go ahead and do the first one.
This is the first time I've actually tried
using the PowerPoint zoom feature.
So, we're gonna see how that goes.
If you look at the market origins,
I think it's important to understand
the OPM market
really began in the 1990s.
This is not a new phenomena.
It might have grown recently
and it certainly is in the news quite a bit more.
But the origins are in the 1990s.
Bisk Education, for example, with Regis University
and their online MBA from the mid 1990s.
Deltak which went on
and went through several changes
but got acquired by Wiley,
they were founded in 1997.
So, the origins of the market really
go all the way back to the 1990s.
And one way you could look at this
is this is at the same time that online education
on its own was growing.
And you had sort of different models were expanding.
You had the for profit sector,
the University of Phoenix, DeVry, you know,
the various for profit schools.
They were rapidly growing their online programs themselves
and designing the programs in their online
operations directly starting back in the 1990s.
But you also had a series of mostly nonprofit schools
that began their online operations
also back in the late '90s and early 2000s.
And so this would get into a lot of where people -
The Sloan Consortium schools or set of schools.
It was an important subset.
And so, when you had Penn State world campus,
You had UM, the University of Maryland University Campus,
You had various nonprofit schools
who really began their online offerings back then
and they took a long time
but they've developed everything
they needed to do to run these online programs.
In parallel with these,
there was a market need that said,
"hey, what about schools who aren't for profit,
"they haven't been long term, you know,
"starting back in the '90s,
"they didn't perceive that they had the capabilities
"to do this on their own.
"How do they develop online programs?"
That's where the OPM market started.
Was saying, "how do these nonprofit schools
"who are not a long term schools,
"that have been investing in brand new operations.
"How does a traditional school develop an online program?"
And that's where a lot of this came about.
And you know, there were a lot of changes
that happened in the 2000s
and I threw up some of the examples such as Deltak
and Collegis and then they separated and got acquired.
So, it's a confusing world
but there was a lot of activities going on
in the '90s and particularly in the 2000s.
And then we had Embanet and Compass merge in 2010,
really created a much larger force.
And you started getting more
and more of this momentum building up at this time.
But the market really started much earlier
than people seem to imply.
Quite a lot of the news media makes you feel like,
"hey, this is a new phenomenon that started
"back in 2010 or 2012,
"and it's something brand new hitting education."
And there's really a lot more to it since then.
And I think it's important to understand that history.
To be able to understand what might happen
moving into the future.
All right, so if we zoom back out,
another area that's worth doing is
understanding a little bit more detail
because there are different models.
How do we actually define these?
So, let's look at the next zoom in.
There is not a commonly accepted definition
of these terms.
But certainly my suggestion
and the way I'm trying to use it within this webinar,
and a lot of the blog posts,
you have online program management.
And that tends to be the subset
but they're the primary partner to enable
a higher education institution to create
and/or deliver online.
The primary partner is really a key point.
We're not trying to say every vendor
that is helping a school as they go online.
We're really looking at it where a school says,
"we need help going online.
"Here's how we're doing it.
"We're working with these guys to make this happen."
So, OPM is a primary partner
and they tend to do full service.
So the full set of categories that I mentioned earlier,
of services all bundled together.
And typically has been tuition revenue sharing
as the business model.
That's historically been where it's at.
There's been a new category that I would describe,
and I've seen different ways that it's described,
an Online Program Enablement, OPE.
And this, again, I'm trying to define this as
primary partner still.
So, it's still the main company
who might be helping a school do this.
But it's broader in context than just OPM.
Because you're getting into,
for example in red highlighted some of the differences.
You're getting into well, maybe it's not just
an online program.
Maybe it's a hybrid program.
A mix of face to face and online and experiential programs.
And this is also important because as you start
getting into boot camp type of offerings.
The other difference is,
for OPE that I see more broadly,
that's typically a significant subset of
the services that I mentioned earlier.
But not necessarily a full service company.
It's somebody who says, "hey, we do -
"We are the primary partner but we don't do course design."
or, "we're the primary partner but we don't do recruitment.
"you know, but we help all the other ways."
So, OPE, the way I'm using this,
is just this broader case that we're getting into.
It's not just one thing that's tuition revenue sharing,
that's full service bundled,
and in working that way it's much broader
and it includes hybrid.
Now there are other categories
which I don't consider OPM or OPE.
I only mention them here to acknowledge
there's a lot of important companies
who are helping schools go online.
Learning Management System, Courseware,
other types of educational technology,
services company who do development and integration.
These are all important
but I'm not saying those are the same as OPM or OPE.
So, the definitions to at least try
to have a common language.
That's how I'm using it.
All right, if you zoom back out,
I do wanna highlight another point
because this is, you know, key to the definition.
So, if you look at this unbundled view,
it goes beyond just the four categories I listed.
There's an excellent report that was done
from the University of Cape Town that looked
at unbundled university
and University of Leeds, University of Cape Town
I have a link.
I highly recommend people get that full report
'cause there's some really valuable descriptions in there.
In this case they called out a lot
of the services in much more detail that might be out there.
And it's a great map.
It's a map that's useful for schools
who are trying to do vendor selection.
It's a good map to check and say,
"hey, what do we do,
"what do we want the company to provide?"
So I just find this to be a very useful map
and I do recommend this report as a good way to get this.
All right, so if we zoom back out,
and then the final one is,
let's get into start transitioning to
what becomes contentious.
This, by the way, also comes from the exact same report.
So, I will reiterate the strong recommendation
that it's a great resource for you.
All right, so this thing is a good description of,
you know, the various things.
You can have -
We'll start from the right.
Full service partnership, that's a lot of the
traditional definition of OPM.
A private company invests in university online
education in return for profit share.
That nuance is important.
We're not just talking the basis
of this revenue sharing model in the funding model
is not just, "we take a percentage."
There's an investment that's happening.
It might not be the same amount that it was
in past years,
but it can cost millions of dollars
for a company to invest
and start up an online program that's set up to scale.
And so a question first,
who is actually funding that investment
that happens before you get the tuition
that can back up the payments?
In the full service model,
it's the company, the OPM provider who's
doing that investment at their risk
and then in exchange for tuition revenue share
or profit share.
So, naturally, the model does focus on marketable
online courses and programs.
There's gotta be some potential payoff
for this model to make sense.
If you skip over to the left, in house provision.
We mention that there's quite a few schools
who have done this work themselves.
So, for example, the largest fastest growing school,
Southern New Hampshire University,
they have designed their operations
to be their own service provider.
They do this in house.
In house production and delivery,
they build up their own capability.
I mentioned Penn State World Campus,
you know, there are quite a few nonprofit
schools that have invested real money
in their infrastructure, their operations,
their capabilities to be able to do online programs
but particularly online programs that can scale
beyond just a few dozen students within a program.
Now in the middle,
we've always had individual Ed Tech companies.
But in the middle at the OPM or OPE level,
this is the newer category that's changing things.
These are people who are saying, "hey, we'll be
"you're partner to do this online program
"but we'll do it on a fee for service basis.
"You, the school, need to pay directly for marketing."
You know, and it's more of a standard contractual model.
And you pick and mix what services you want.
So, it tends to not be full service.
It's more of a, "which ones do I want,
"the ones that I'm providing in house as a school
"I obviously am not gonna pay for."
These are the common funding models
but as we're gonna get into a little bit later,
it's important to understand these are not
just three individual choices.
Fee for service and full service
are not binary choices.
There's a hybrid and a real mix in between.
And we'll get into that.
Okay, so let's zoom back out
but I did wanna take a chance in case
there are any questions, Megan,
that were worth addressing ahead of time
before we get into some of the more chaotic
aspects of the market.
- Yeah, you bet.
So, let me scroll over to the Q&A.
Calvin, our friend Calvin Bentley had a question.
Giving many schools use OPMs
and two use recent drop and stock prices,
is this the reflection the market is too crowded?
Competing for a limited amount of students?
- Two things, first of all, not surprised
Calvin has the first question.
Second thing is, yes, that's a great Segway
into the section we're going into.
It is a crowded market
in two different ways, not just among OPM vendors
but among schools.
So, absolutely it's a crowded market.
I do wanna treat that more as a Segway
into the next section.
So, I'll answer more fully as we get into the next section.
Okay, so it's a great set up,
thank you Calvin for prompting us to go this direction.
You certainly will read a lot about
that this is a growing market.
The OPM is growing and it is.
And there's companies who are making a lot
of money off of this.
And online education is growing.
And there's sort of a narrative that gets
thrown out there that, "hey, everything's growing
"and everything's easy."
But there are two key things to try to
understand with this market is first of all,
it's crowded as Calvin had pointed out.
It's not easy.
But it is also expensive.
So, go back to the comment about
companies who are investing millions
and are setting up a program in the expectation
that they're gonna make money three,
four, five years down the road.
It'll pay off later.
That makes it an expensive proposition.
And as online education has grown,
that's gotten even more difficult.
So, this is a very difficult and crowded market.
And it's an expensive market.
If you're a company that's playing in here,
you have to be careful to pick your right model
and your right niche.
Otherwise, you're gonna bite off more than you can chew
and there's a lot of things happening.
So, the picture I have, as you can see,
I almost view the market as a scene from Mad Max.
Yes it's growing but boy, it's really chaotic and dangerous.
And so, one way to look at this is everybody -
There's a lot of things going out there,
a lot of the business driver of the market
is the fuel truck of college online program revenue.
And you have a lot of barriers
and little disasters that've happened
throughout the process.
I mentioned one.
So, Eastern Michigan faculty had a big protest
about an OPM relationship at their school
And that changed what was happening.
There was a case where
a synergist was going to
be servicing a program at USC.
And that fell apart at the last minute.
Just last year,
or maybe I've lost a year,
Greenwood Hall basically imploded.
They shut down the call center,
they had just built a new call center,
and shut it down almost with no notice
right before Christmas.
You have DeVry, they had an OPM that they
were trying to spin up called IES.
They essentially left the market.
And then I mentioned the University of Florida Online.
That one started out as an OPM based deal
and it did not work.
And so, that's a case I need to -
You'll see that it hit some rocks
but then you see this new one that went passed the rocks
I didn't quite get the graphic right there.
UF Online has redefined itself to do this in house
but the core to that is they've changed
their expectations on student enrollments
and how they can fund it.
So, they had a huge wreck, if you will,
but the also, they very honestly understood
what was happening, changed their model,
changed their expectation,
and it's a very successful program now.
The OPM basis of it is what I'm representing
as a crash that happened.
2U which has really been the face of the market
for a long time they were positioned as
sort of the car that was way on the outside.
They had a niche market, and they stopped
and they avoided a lot of this chaos.
So, their business model because they went after
elite institutions that other companies
weren't going after.
And they had a model that worked there.
And they could work on their own.
They had a small bump with Semester Online
where they tried to do undergraduate
as a consortium approach,
that fell apart.
But they kept going on.
More recently, however,
and Calvin eluded to this,
they had a large change in the market
perception of them
with their announcements on July 30th.
And I have a blog post to help explain this.
But their stock price really crashed.
And a lot of that was based on,
as they explained it, the market has changed.
Not just the OPM market,
and competition between companies.
But more importantly, it's getting to be
a crowded space between institutions
who are trying to do online programs.
So, a lot of this competition is competition
for students between the schools.
That has changed the operating -
The model on the assumptions financially behind 2U
and it's part of the reason they've
really broadened out.
They're now, I mean, they've done the acquisitions
with Trilogy and GetSmarter.
But they're also now offering fee for service
as part of their new partnership program
for schools that are already using them
as a traditional OPM.
So, I don't wanna harp on it too much
other than the fact that, here's a company
that really has been the face of the OPM market.
And for a long time they've been
sort of outside the fray of all this chaotic
But even they're getting caught up in it now.
And it's a reflection on how chaotic it is
but also how crowded it is.
And how much competition for students are out there.
So, long winded way, I do wanna point
one other point here, we'll get into some others
is it's a chaotic Mad Max type market.
And if you haven't seen the original Mad Max,
I also endorse watching that.
What I would like to say is California AB1345
and the pushback on the longterm revenue share contracts.
What that's getting called out is,
there is an active move with policy makers,
regulators, state law makers, particularly in California,
who are trying to rein in
or change how the OPM market works.
And in particular the revenue sharing aspect of it.
And so far, you know, it's causing some changes
but there's a lot of noise behind it.
And these are barriers.
These are things that people need to be aware of there.
We're gonna continue having a chaotic market
even moving forward.
So, we'll go into that in a little bit more detail
but this really is hopefully a set up
to talk about a growing market, a lot of opportunity,
important market for nontraditional students
in particular, but it's very chaotic.
So, let's jump in on a couple of these specific elements
that we're referring to here.
Go ahead with the first zoom in.
I love that feature now.
Okay, so continuing this talk about the
pushback against the OPMs,
It would be a mistake to look a lot at the things
that are happening such as the article
in the Huffington Post.
And it's in the top right about the creeping
And then the Century Foundation report
that came out recently really talking about
for profit middlemen OPM driving up the cost
of online higher education.
And an unintended consequence of that
is because of a lot of the legislation
happening in California, in this area,
that's what led to this summer where people recall
there was a case where all of a sudden
California residents who were taking classes
at out of state, nonprofit schools,
nonprofit online schools were no longer
eligible for federal financial aids.
So there was a real kerfuffle that happened in July.
It got resolved but that's part of this whole
So there's a lot of questions saying,
"hey, if you've got this market,
"are schools selling their future?
"to get these online programs?
"Are they giving away revenue
and preventing themselves from building up
internal capabilities moving forward?
And are corporate profits taking priority over students?"
That's sort of the question that's being addressed
and that has really led to a strong
and local pushback against that aspect of the market.
Now there's counter pushback,
and I have been part of that I'll be honest,
so in the bottom left I'm pointing out
that when the Century Foundation
came out with their report,
it was very much a position paper
but it was masquerading that it was a research study
where you actually research, see what happens,
and then make conclusions.
They had their conclusions ahead of time.
So it's leading, there's a lot of pushback going on
but there's also a lot of shotty analysis
and shotty media coverage based on it.
And certainly, our perspective is
it's not helping the matter for people to understand
what's really happening with OPM companies,
should they work with them,
what's the right model for them?
But there's a lot of noise and a lot of pushback.
It's probably the most common question that you get,
"hey, is this gonna -
"Is this new pushback does this mean tuition
"revenue share OPM model is dead?"
That's probably one of the most common questions
that I get.
From our perspective of what we see,
no, we don't see it as that model's going away.
We see new models coming on board
so schools have more options, there is more chaos
but so far, we have not seen any indications
that the revenue share whole service model will disappear.
But it's an open question.
I gotta acknowledge that there are some legitimate
parts that need to be addressed.
If you take individual deals, are they good deals?
And let's be honest, there are a lot
of awful contracts out there.
And some of what's awful is just, they're very shallow.
The market grew up where so much of the activity happened,
it wasn't coordinated.
There wasn't strong negotiation on the terms
and how you exit conditions if you need to change partners.
And so, there is a problem with some contracts
that really are unfair financially.
There are some contracts that are just ill defined
and problematic for a school.
And then there's also a very legitimate question
about the cost of education for students.
And how do you lower cost for students?
So, there are legitimate -
I don't wanna imply that there are no legitimate
questions, there absolutely are.
But there's also a lot of noise
that's coming from this pushback
that I believe is problematic.
But it's out there.
So, I wanna address that
and, you know, that's a major part of the chaos
we're seeing right now.
All right, so if we zoom back out,
I wanna make sure we leave ourselves time
for questions on that as well.
Let's go to the next one.
This gets to the false binary.
There's one of the biggest problems,
and even understanding however you stand,
if you agree that revenue sharing is not the way to go
or you think it is the way to go,
it's getting presented too much as opposed to,
you know, do you want clean air or clean water?
You can't have both.
Well, the reality of the matter is
there's a lot of hybrid options out there.
This does not need to be one or the other.
It's tuition revenue share versus a fee for service.
That's a false argument that's confusing matters.
Another case I would like to point out in the
Newman Seinfeld world,
I won't say who's who there's a lot of back
and forth that is harmful to the discussion
between two companies.
But Noodle Partners, they're the ones advocating
fee for service but they offer a form of revenue sharing.
Now, they will argue and say, "hey, this is short term.
"It's transparent, and then once you pay it back
"you move to fee for service."
So it's a different form but they offer revenue sharing.
There's a percentage of tuition that you can
get into a model with them.
Or that's how they're getting paid as part of the thing.
Likewise, 2U who's been the face of the OPM market,
they are no longer just based on tuition revenue sharing.
They are actually branching into fee for service.
So, the two poster children for fee for service
and revenue sharing they're offering hybrid models
and that is consistent.
There're quite a few companies who will offer
a mix of revenue sharing and fee for service.
So, what's important is not to view one versus the other.
View it as more of a spectrum or a set of options
that schools need to figure out what's the
And quite often it's what's the appropriate
model for this online program?
You might have a different answer for
an online business degree than you would
with an online humanities degree.
And you do see a lot of schools who have
different OPM or non OPM programs within the same school.
But the key point here is that it's a false dynamic
to say it's one versus the other.
There's some important questions
but it's not an A versus B question that's going on.
All right, if you zoom back out,
we're part of where I think we're getting to
why this is becoming so contentious
is through the '90s and the 2000s,
you certainly heard a lot about the for profit sector.
Online education was a growing case
and a lot of people talked about it.
Then you certainly heard about the University
of Central Florida, Penn State, you know,
the ones that I've already mentioned several
examples of the longtime online programs.
But it was not yet well known
this other case of nonprofit schools
using OPM providers to actually do a program
and they were not managed centrally.
These relationships really
have been characterized as "Deans Gone Wild".
It was an era where individual deans
at academic institutions,
they made up their own decisions
and there was no real central coordinating,
coordination from the central school
or university on contracting or anything.
And so we had an era where you really had a lot
of that happening.
Well, now it's getting to online education
is becoming core to the mission of so many universities
and it's changed the dynamics.
So, if you go to the next zoom in,
the way I liken it is through the 2000s,
through 2010 or 2011,
nonprofit online education programs,
these were the kids playing in the corner.
Faculty groups in particular,
they might not have liked it
but they said, "okay, that's continuing education.
"or that's just the MBA program,
"that's very isolated, I don't know who
"those kids are but as long as they keep
"playing in the corner, they're not bothering us."
The whole market has changed
and the online is strategically important
to most schools now.
Doesn't mean they have to do it
but they need to know what they're doing or not.
So, these kids are no longer playing in the corner,
now they've moved throughout the whole house.
And they're causing a lot of chaos.
And so there's sort of a shock to the system
that's going on that now we do need to address
what does it mean for a nonprofit school
to do an online program that needs to be run
differently than how we've done face to face
for all these years?
We're targeting nontraditional students,
we need to do 24 by seven support.
Quite often there's team teaching instead
of just individual faculty designing courses.
There's just a lot of questions
that get raised by this.
And it's not easy to deal with.
And because it's becoming so pervasive,
you have another challenge for the next slide.
And that is traditionally you've had sort of
these ed tech enthusiasts, the innovators,
early adopters who are trying stuff
and they wanna go out and, "I'll figure something out,
"I'll put it together."
But then you have sort of technology adoption
curve points to mainstream.
People who are much more conservative.
"Okay, I'll do this but it better work.
"You know, I don't have too much time,
"don't make this too hard on me."
The challenge we have is that schools need
to support both types now.
You have these people who used to be
the kids playing in the corner
but now they're pushing other areas.
But you're getting involvement with more
mainstream of the school
and how do you deal with this?
The chasm is just pointing out they're very
different group dynamics.
And it's very difficult to deal with that.
So, this is part of the reason I think we have
so much media noise and so much chaos going on.
Some of it's because it's a crowded market,
some of it's because it's an expensive, difficult market.
But some of it's because we're dealing
with very important questions about the
academic mission, the role of the faculty,
the cost to students for education.
A whole bunch of issues are getting raised
and we need to deal with them or need to get them resolved.
So, that's part of the reason things are so chaotic now.
So, let me go to one more slide
and then we'll do it more of an open question
because I believe we have quite a few questions,
or I hope we do.
- Yes, we do.
- We would have an awkward silence going on.
- No, there's no awkward silence happening.
We have a lot of questions. - It might be awkward anyway.
So, one thing is we're moving away from a world
of "Deans Gone Wild" to a more coordinated
I'm seeing more often where universities, for example,
are saying, "okay, we need to get control
"over these OPM contracts.
"We can't just leave it to individual colleges.
"We need to have common standards."
And I'm seeing that more and more.
So, the era of where the decisions are getting made
and how they're getting coordinated is really changing.
I go back to this point, the online market
itself is crowded.
Competition for students, even among schools
regardless of whether they use an OPM or not,
the nature of online, you don't just have
a handful of OPM.
I mean, online MBAs, you have you know, hundreds
of them out there.
You're getting into very localized competition areas.
What are the schools in a 150 mile radius
that also have an online program in this area?
That's my competition.
And it's a different view than it used to be
even several years ago.
Now, there is an increased focus on oversight
and transparency through regulation.
Now, that could be considered an oxymoron.
You don't always get that out of regulation.
But certainly there's a focus on we've gotta have oversight,
we need more transparency of who's making money
and how what's being provided,
what are the contractual terms?
So, we've gotta deal with these questions
that are getting raised both at state legislatures,
the federal government is debating some of these issues,
but it's also being debated in public policy circles.
And that's gonna continue.
But there's an increased focus on that.
And expect that moving forward.
And that will hit not just OPM companies but schools.
There is gonna be an increased focus on economics
and part of what that means is there certainly
seems to be a mega trend where no longer
are masters programs the sweet spot for online
simply cash cows for the rest of the school.
There's starting to be an increased focus on,
"hey, this program costs too much,
"what's the student debt for this master's online program?
"And how can you make it more affordable?"
And there's gonna be increased focus on the institution.
I'm seeing schools now are saying,
"okay, I'm very open to revenue share
"but how much am I spending for that investment
"money that I'm getting coming in?
"You know, am I effectively -
"You know, what am I paying in interest?"
Is one way they're starting to look at it.
So, this focus on economics both for student cost
but for also for the institution to have
a more mature understanding of the economics.
That's going to keep increasing in the future.
And then the final one, I see it happening
but I'm admitting this is somewhat aspirational.
This is a key one I hope happens.
Is we need to focus much more in this area
on engaging course design and support.
So, basically academic quality is becoming more
and more central to the potential success
of online programs and OPM relationship.
Not just can you recruit students
and get them in the door,
but what is the quality of the education being provided
and how do we improve it?
So, it's always been there but I see
and I hope that this area is really
gonna be ramping up in the future
and a key issue to address moving forward.
But with that in mind, I wanted to leave
some good time for some questions.
As many as we can handle within the hour.
So, I'll turn it to Megan, fire away.
- Okay, thanks Phil, so we have 22 questions
plus a few in the chat
and we certainly won't get to all of those
but I'm just gonna go through what I can
and hopefully we can wrap up at the top of the hour.
And like I mentioned at the beginning of the webinar,
if we can't get to everyone's question,
we'll certainly include these in a follow up blog
so stay tuned.
Arthur had a question that piggybacks
on Calvin's previous question.
What's your take on why grad programs over
undergrad programs, is it the electives
and our core requirements?
- That's part of it, I think one of the most
obvious ones is that once you're getting
into masters programs,
students by definition almost are more focused
on what they need to get
and why they need to get it.
You don't have the problem where, "hey, I'm
"going into an undergrad program."
What are you trying to get out of it?
"I'm not quite sure, I'm trying to find myself."
Or, "I just came out of high school."
Students in the masters level tend to
be much more career-oriented
"I need this masters in this field
"for a teaching credential or a social work credential."
So there's much more focus on why they're in school
and what they need out of it.
And they typically have more of
a time management perspective, you know,
"I've matured enough that I can control my time."
Because that's important for online education.
So, I think that's actually one of the biggest
reasons they're very different.
And one other I would call out,
is you don't have as many tuition strings
attached to nonprofit public colleges
and universities at the master's level
that you do with the undergrad.
There's a lot more leeway on charging more money
in the master's programs than you can do
So, if I listed, those would be three of them.
One that Arthur mentioned
and the two that I added to it.
- Great, thank you.
And this sort of reminds me of what I was
witnessing with the whistle blower
discussion earlier today
but Josh Kim has a question about
can you imagine a scenario where OPM critics
like Kevin Carey, analysts, other leaders,
and schools all come together for a collegial discussion?
- (laughter) I'd rather pay to see the opposite.
No, more seriously -
Today on Twitter, there is an interesting
conversation that was going on
that was triggered, as a matter of fact,
from a share from Josh Kim's article that I shared
and then the conversation went on.
But we had somebody from Noodle
and somebody from 2U who were debating
about the transparency initiative
where 2U is sort of proactively saying,
"here's how we're gonna be transparent.
"We're gonna release this data to sort of
"say what we're doing
and we call on other providers to do the same."
Noodle and other providers are skeptical, if you will.
And there's started to be a debate there about it
but there was a great comment about boy,
that would be -
I think Trace Urdan said, "that would be a great
"way to deescalate this conversation.
"Let's get these two people debating things
"in a productive way in public."
So, I think if certain critics
and certain competing views at certain levels
yes, I think we can have more productive conversations.
However, I think there's a deliberate,
just like the whistle blower issue today,
there are deliberate intentions from both sides
or different sides to not resolve these issues
in a very, you know, friendly manner.
So, I don't think that you're gonna get rid of the noise
but I think that it is possible to get very
productive conversations dealing with the issues
from different sides.
But that won't get rid of the big criticisms
and debates that are going on in public.
You have to tolerate both is the best case.
- Right. That's the nature of competition.
And here's a question from Laura Pasqueenie, hi Laura!
Do you see the expansion of OPMs/OPEs market
being driven by the lack of institutional support
and structures versus demand
and competition for online learning programs?
That's part one, then can universities find
the resources they need internally
or will this be the trend of the future
to rely on external providers?
- Oi, oi, well, one thing to be careful of,
it's a great question but it's not just
the amount of resources what's really important
to understand is a lot of this market has come into play
and it's still here not just because, well, how many
resources will the school throw at this if they
don't have enough,
it also gets into are you willing to operate differently?
When you're looking at online students,
tend to be nontraditional students,
you look at a marketing department for
a traditional school,
their willingness to reach out to students
very quickly after they have a request coming in
is quite often limited.
It's not just a matter of resources.
It's an organizational design
and a willingness to do things differently.
That I think is the bigger reason why this happens,
is schools being willing or capable of
operating in a different way as well as
the amount of resources.
So, I'm not sure if I fully answered your question
but I think that's driving the market
and I think that will continue.
I don't think we're getting a broad based
all of nonprofit schools will operate differently.
I think we're always gonna have this challenge
and therefore you're always gonna have
somewhat of a need for this market.
I don't think that that need is going away,
is my gut feel.
I didn't really answer you but at least tried to.
- All right, here's a question from David Stone,
what have you seen in the way of intellectual
property ownership components as part of the OPM agreements?
Early on I heard a lot of concerns about the
ownership of content when partnerships were new.
Is the ownership of content IP still an issue
or a factor?
- It's less of an issue right now.
Particularly because we're moving away from,
you know, from what we've described as "Deans Gone Wild".
We see how poor contracts that really didn't
clarify who owned what,
and there were some big assumptions in place
about the vendor maybe owning it.
Today you see what I believe are much more
mature contracts that call that out
and typically it's pretty clear that the IP
belongs to the school.
I wouldn't say in every case
but I'd say in the majority in cases that we've seen,
the IP is much more clear.
So, I wouldn't say it's a nonissue,
but I would say that it's -
That's an area that I think has improved quite a bit.
Now, it raises this digital question
of wait, what is the content?
Is it the course materials?
What about the Q&A?
What about the analytics, looking at the engagement
in that material, whose is that?
So, it's opened up some fuzzy areas
but overall I think that's improved quite a bit.
But it's not fully resolved.
- Okay, well that just has me thinking about students,
and data, and ownership, and all sorts of other fun things.
- Well, yeah, that question is not just
applicable to the OPM world, right?
- Right. And another question from Josh.
And I'm just going in terms of up votes so,
it's not that I'm playing any preference here.
But Phil, what ideas might you have to bring OPM
providers and schools to the table to build
the infrastructure for independent,
data driven research on outcomes related to
nonprofit/for profit partnerships in online ed?
- That's a great question.
My gut feel is that you're gonna have to have
an ecumenical organization, hey, maybe a dummy CET.
You're gonna have to have an ecumenical
organization that can strongly facilitate
that work to make that happen.
It's not just gonna happen by a consortium of schools
or a couple of vendors finally get together
and you know, kumbaya and start working together.
I think for that to happen,
because I think where Josh is going,
and I've read your articles,
is you wanna get to not just how do you use a vendor
but how does the whole feel
and improve their knowledge base?
I think there's gonna have to be some
independent ecumenical organization
that gets the buy in
and will strongly facilitate those meetings
I'm not sure who that's gonna be
but I will add one other point,
when you mention data, let's remember
the data is really poor across educational technology.
We have lots of data
and lots of click streams but very few cases
where it's meaningful, usable data
to improve education.
So, part of what it'll take
to get to what Josh is asking about is
So that we can figure out how to actually have usable
data to feed into this process in the first place.
Cause we're not there yet.
- Wow, well, I think we have time for
one maybe two questions.
Another question from -
Actually, I'm gonna skip down to Paul here.
Are there examples of in house provisions
that have fallen short of initial expectations?
Have you looked at Calbright Initiative
and expectations compared to other state driven
That might be a little too early in its infancy
but if you could speak to the examples
of in house provisions.
- I will wisely choose not to talk about Calbright
Partially based on some consulting work that we're doing.
There are lots of examples
and maybe we'll pull this out in the blog post
afterwards but absolutely there's a lot of cases
where schools try to do in house provisions
and it just doesn't work.
It cannot meet expectations.
And quite often the current -
The reason I separated creating an online program
and delivering for what the market is about,
is we're seeing more often the case now
where a school might say, "hey, we've been running
"this internally but we recognize
"we're not doing a good job.
"Even though we've already started it,
"can we get somebody to come in
"and help and run it better?"
So, there are lots of cases
but what I'd like to do is be able to
address that in a blog post.
Also, so I can get permission if I give specific examples.
So, let me try to defer that question to the -
We'll come up with a blog post that'll
address additional questions
and I'll try to address that there
with more specificity.
- Perfect and there was a question about if,
and feel free to follow up in the blog,
but if there are examples of two years using OPM providers.
So, quickly I just wanted to -
- There are examples on that
but it's certainly not as common.
That's something we will address so good question.
- Great, thank you.
So, Phil has a great blog, I'll send the link out
in addition to the recording.
Hopefully Dick can get that back to you all today
and Phil will be at our annual meeting
and we're gonna have an open discussion
very much on the same topics
we'll be able to get to some of your questions.
And I really do wanna pursue developing
some model agreements for our community
so stay tuned for work on that.
But if you haven't registered yet,
be sure to register and join us in Denver.
And all of our webcasts are recorded
and posted on our webcast page
as well as our YouTube channels
so you can always go back
and look through previous recordings.
And I just wanna make a shout out to
first of all, Phil
and all of the wonderful participants
that were so engaged today
and asked wonderful questions.
And our work here at WCET happens because
of our members and our sponsors.
So, our supporting members there Colorado State University,
Michigan state, and Mizzou Online.
And then we have wonderful sponsors here
that help underwrite much of our programs
and things so thank you to everybody
that helped our great work happen.
And stay involved.
We don't have any webcasts published yet
but we do several throughout the full year
so stay tuned.
Any final comments, Phil?
- Oh, no, other than I mean, I'm looking forward
to being able to capture -
Look at some of the chat and the Q&A,
and our follow up web post.
And for those of you who are in Denver,
definitely would like to talk more in person
about this question during the WCET conference
but thank you for great questions.
I wish more sessions had this type of interactivity
and great questions coming in.
So, thank you.
- Great, thank you. You all enjoy your day.
Bye Phil, thanks, good luck.