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What Does an Online Program Management (OPM) do?

A witty OPM provider would simply respond – “wonders.” But, jokes aside, effective online program management can fuel institutional growth, increase revenue, and help deliver education to a global audience. 

OPM refers to the practice of building partnerships between educational institutions and third-party providers that help take their academic programs online. It’s also a foundation of an established industry reaching $1.1 billion market worth

And the worth is entirely justified by the benefits OPM providers have to offer. 

In a nutshell, they complement education with the expertise needed to thrive in today’s digital world. When done right, an end-to-end OPM solution can take care of a full student’s life cycle, provide comprehensive digital tools, and make an online course successful. 

Here’s how it does that.

#1 Provide Upfront Capital

More specifically, OPM providers provide upfront capital in a traditional “revenue share” model. Namely, if an institution chooses to outsource end-to-end online program management (as opposed to the fee-for services/a la carte model), it’s usually followed by this specific investment agreement. 

In a revenue-share model, an OPM provider either fully provides the initial investment or participates with a significant portion of the upfront capital. The revenue is then shared accordingly. 

This practically means that universities are unburdened by the financial risk associated with launching a new program. It also allows them to scale their budget allocations and make long-term sustainable financial plans.

#2 Manage Student Life Cycle

Once a partnership between a university and an OPM provider is established, the outsourced team will fully manage the student recruitment, support, and retention. 

In pragmatic terms, this means that an online program manager will invest both experts and resources in actively promoting the course and communicating its value to a broader audience. It also entails that from the moment a student is enrolled, the OPM team will constantly work on keeping them in the loop, from semester to semester (because it’s the only way of attaining the full life revenue). 

In a word, the OPM team engages students, supports them with a help desk, and makes sure they don’t drop out of the program.

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#3 Conduct Research

Naturally, to do everything we’ve just listed, an outsourced provider needs to conduct a significant amount of research, including the partner university, its competitors, audience demands, and the overall online learning market. 

To gather valuable resources for the marketing team, the online program manager would first have to take a deep dive into the nuances of the program, stakeholders involved, and alumni availability. 

But to truly drive sustainable enrollment growth, the OPM provider has to have a thorough understanding of the niche market, i.e., the potential prospects, what other courses they are checking out, and what could potentially nudge them into opting for the one you’ve launched.

Then, and only then, both partnering sides can start conceptualizing the course creation. 

 #4 Participate in Course Creation

Of course, the faculty alumni, i.e., experts in the subject fields, will be the ones who develop the program’s curriculum, prepare the instructional materials, and provide appropriate assessment options. 

However, the OPM team will actively participate in program development by providing valuable insights obtained from research. Their role is mainly a consulting one at this stage – they will advise on the best practices for student engagement and the most effective means for distinguishing the course from the competitors. 

In the ideal scenario, the course quality would be a cooperative effort of instructional expertise and valuable market insights. 

#5 Develop And Execute Digital Marketing Plan

Once the final product is finished, it needs a comprehensive marketing strategy to succeed. The OPM provider then creates “a funnel.” i.e., an action plan on capturing the audience’s attention and navigating it towards enrollment.

Online program managers use the latest marketing technology infrastructure to do this. So, instead of institutions investing in expensive software and staff training, they basically bypass the nuisance and outsource the full package of digital marketing services. 

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Astria Learning: Higher Education For Everyone

But, as you may assume, not all online program managers are created equal. The OPM market has flourished in recent years and has driven providers to seek more niche specializations. 

In other words, choosing your OPM provider can be quite a challenge these days. 

To make sure you opt for the right one, you must align the institution’s goals with the corresponding OPM expertise. 

Here at AstriaLearning, we put a sharp focus on quality education that’s globally priced and accessible to everyone. Over the years, we’ve gathered a team of research, recruitment, and marketing professionals that can immediately engage aspiring learners.

To learn just how we can introduce your institution to the future of eLearning, request a demo or contact us today with any questions you may have.


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