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In the past few decades, as online learning has gradually been regarded by millions of students as a convenient way to obtain a highly respected degree, most senior officials in American universities have had little attention, hesitation, or involvement. When higher education leaders woke up during the pandemic, they went to their digital cabinet and found it was empty.

The early indifference to virtual education is largely due to the fact that as a part of the pre-digital age, after the academic rankings rose, many teachers expressed general opposition to online teaching because they believed that online teaching is a bad substitute for classroom teaching. Many people are hindered by a lack of understanding of how distance learning actually works, because they have never taken an online course, and certainly never taught.

Higher education leaders also share a common belief-and it still is-the cost of building online infrastructure is too high. With the decline in enrollment in traditional courses, this makes it difficult for universities to balance their budgets and even more difficult to fund new businesses in virtual teaching.

The irony is that when many people are hesitant, early-stage investing universities can offer courses and courses at a lower cost. Twenty-five years ago, when I helped the Stevens Institute of Technology, an engineering school in Hoboken, New Jersey, set up many online master’s degrees, we did not hire instructional designers or videographers.And we don’t have to tap our reserves to finance Expensive digital recruitment campaignThese expensive resources are not an important driving force for online businesses like today. At the turn of the century, adventurous teachers, driven by their own talents, ventured into cyberspace alone, requiring only a laptop computer and Internet access.

Realizing that they are not preparing for the digital future-after a year of emergency remote guidance-higher education leaders are now trying to make up for the virtual decade by collaborating with online project managers (OPM) and helping commercial vendors The loss of the university offers and marketing online courses. Due to the pandemic, OPM is now benefiting from the delay in higher education. Until the health crisis forced campuses to close physical classrooms, many universities did not realize the cost of failing to act early.

As the campus retreats, online speed moves forward

Senior higher education officials have realized how badly American higher education has been hit by the pandemic.according to The latest data According to data from the Research Center of the National Student Information Exchange Center, the undergraduate enrollment rate has dropped by nearly 6%. Community colleges have been hit particularly hard, with enrollment rates falling by more than 11%. Although the postgraduate enrollment rate continues to climb steadily, increasing by 4.4%, overall, the higher education enrollment rate has fallen by more than 4% from a year ago.

Source: Mindlink

As the epidemic intensified, tertiary education leaders have been anxiously watching the frustrating trend over the years; from 2012 to 2019, the number of enrollments dropped by 1 million from 20.7 million. The image above depicts the federal data neatly rearranged by edtech trend watcher Phil Hill, showing that the campus is steadily declining while leading online competitions.

Hill’s analysis revealed the bad news. If you remove students who don’t take any online courses, the total enrollment on campus will actually drop by 3 million, which is disturbing. In sharp contrast, over the same period, the number of students who only participated in online courses increased by 1 million, and the number of students who participated in some but not all online courses increased by 1 million.

This does not paint a good picture for the future of higher education in schools, but it heralds the bright prospects of online education. The contempt of digital education by many senior academic officials for a long time now seems foolish.

Cooperation with OPM

So, with the end of the pandemic, how will universities that have not established online courses as early as possible now attract students into the virtual academic world? How will teachers learn how to deliver effective courses in a virtual way—not just old lectures through Zoom? One way more and more universities are discovering is to sign contracts with OPM.

This Hockey stick illustration The following is prepared by Holon IQ, an edtech market research company, and represents the current surge in OPM partnerships-slow in the past ten years, followed by a sharp rise during the 2020 pandemic, and a sharp rise in the first quarter of this year.

The rising graph of OPM transactions by universities

This chart is a compelling depiction of universities competing to build online courses, even when budgets are facing challenges. Universities are contracted to provide themselves with technologies and services that they have not mobilized themselves-responsive online student support, experienced instructional designers and savvy videographers; as well as for student collaboration, evaluation, remote testing, course creation, multimedia And many other application tools.

The most important of these is the introduction of digital teaching, from video streaming to HyFlex deliveryOn the corporate side, skills are more in line with the business than scholarships—digital recruitment, call center operations, video studio production, budgeting and management. Since most academic leaders have received academic training, online capabilities are far beyond their comfort zone. No wonder senior officials scrambled to fill the vacancies with experts outside the university.

OPMs are particularly attractive because they can help finance projects in advance. In exchange for paying the start-up fees for new online courses, most OPMs receive 50% of online tuition revenue.

Compared with the traditional marketing efforts of other organizations, OPM also touts more sophisticated recruiting techniques for new students.Their approach Usually better than what the university itself provides, Although OPM activities are usually more expensive.

Of course, like every digital service provider, not all customers are satisfied. Some were troubled by inferior OPM services, parted ways with their partners, now they are independent, and usually learned a thing or two.

University succeeds online

Over the years, successful online courses have been doing it all independently, and the number of online students has continued to increase.Hundreds of universities offer online degrees, some of which have attracted More than 50,000 registered, And some even exceed 100,000.

These early market leaders in the field of online higher education quickly filled their virtual cabinets with what online businesses and students needed. None of them cooperated with OPM. To a large extent, these large virtual universities are the pioneers of OPM, leading the trend in the methods adopted by OPM, and now selling to the laggards.To draw attention to the news that a large number of online admissions universities are accelerating this spring, Phil Hill famous “One of the biggest factors is the upfront investment in online.”

For most universities-excluding those highly selective schools that never lack applicants-continuing to use depleted digital fees is not a healthy long-term solution. OPM is just a stopgap measure. The prescription for universities with insufficient digital infrastructure is to find a way to maintain a healthy virtual diet, even if they temporarily use OPM providers to help them weather the immediate digital crisis.

OPM is good at temporarily relieving academic pain. What is needed now is a durable, self-care remedy.

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