The OPM Market: Why Better EdTech Holds the Key
- 12 September, 2022
- Reading Time: 4 minutes
What Is an OPM Provider?
An Online Program Management (OPM) provider helps higher ed organizations take their academic programs online. These OPM providers operate primarily in the United States and Europe due to the sheer amount of renowned institutions that they house. OPMs often handle most of the program development and delivery much more quickly than universities typically can themselves.
OPM providers offer services like market research, student recruitment and enrollment, course design and development, technology platform development, student retention, and student employment or training opportunities. They typically bundle their offerings with multiple services or operate in an a la carte style. This allows universities to pick and choose which services they would like to outsource.
OPMs are unique in the fact that they take on most if not all of the program development costs., This also means they absorb much of the risk, in exchange for a significant portion of the program revenue over a prolonged period of time.
Trends Within the OPM Market
Online Program Management is a rapidly growing market because of the increasing demand for digital learning materials. There has been a particular surge for online learning in masters and career skills-related programs as well as programs that scale easily such as nursing, education, and business administration.
According to the US Govt. Accountability Office, at least 550 colleges now use OPM services and over six million people pursue higher education in online courses exclusively. Last year, OPMs supported over The current OPM market stands at about three billion dollars with the estimation of growing to over seven billion by the year 2025.
Challenges OPM providers face in the Higher Ed space
While the current market seems promising for these OPM players, it is still dynamic. With consolidations and considerable market changes on the horizon, they are constantly on the lookout to improve their service offerings. One of the common areas where OPMs falter is in understanding the evaluation points that higher education institutions consider when choosing to partner with an OPM on tuition revenue-sharing models.
Aside from measuring the number of students who enroll and the tuition revenue thus generated, OPMs also need to measure and highlight student learning outcomes. This includes data on completion rates, job readiness of the learners, or even the type of content that learners engage with over their platform. These analytics would give far greater insight into how effective these programs are and how much learners really get out of them.
Overcoming These Challenges with Better EdTech
There are many ways that Online Program Management providers can mitigate these challenges to meet the needs of colleges:
Course Engagement and Efficacy –
The course completion rate is listed as of the biggest reasons educational institutions hesitate to engage with OPMs. Plan to have a course or learning efficacy framework charted out beforehand. While building the course design, make sure it is well mapped to the final goals that the learner is expected to reach. The instructional efficacy of the program will determine its quality to improve your chances of success.
Ensure that your course content captures the right metrics and that these analytics feed back into a dashboard that is easy to consume and understand. Intersperse content with engaging elements such as audio, games, leaderboards, or simulations. Choose ways to easily incorporate these into the course without making it too heavy to load.
Building Platforms on Flexible architecture –
Most often, educational institutions have a pre-existing technical infrastructure. Pluggable technology allows your offering to fit seamlessly into this existing environment – without requiring a complete overhaul which might be expensive and meet with resistance.
Integrating with the existing infrastructure would mean better rostering, easier sign-ons, and lower resistance to change from potential users – whether educators or learners.
Give learners more control over how and when they learn –
Making content accessible by delivering offline and online capabilities can greatly improve course completion rates. Moreover, most students learning remotely are likely to have jobs and will appreciate the chance to learn at the time when they are most productive.
OPMs that offer bundled services exclusively can also broaden their market by offering more a la carte style options. While full-service OPMs still hold a strong USP, more and more OPMs are choosing to offer their services in unbundled, fee-for-service models, in consulting, or even just plugging gaps in a college’s offerings. These are just some of the ways that Online Program Management can improve in order to create a better market for themselves.
With some work, OPMs can become an even better resource for universities and institutions and help salvage declining enrolment rates. OPMs need to implement better data sets and analytics to prove learning efficacy, create more engaging content to improve course completion rates, improve learning on the go as they cater a lot to adult learners, and comply with standards for Accessibility to be prepared for any RFP requirements a university may have. With these considerations, Online Program Management can become even more profitable for universities and more beneficial for learners.