Top 4 fears (and realities) of working with an OPM partner

“Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” Dale Carnegie

Humans don’t like change. While the unknown can be exciting, fear is always a part of our emotional mix. This is especially true when you’re dealing with new innovations at your institution.

As you look for a partner who can help expand or take your programs online, you’re bound to experience some common fears:

  • Fear of success/failure: Will our program fail (and what happens if we succeed)?
  • Fear of losing control: Who runs the show?
  • Fear of upsetting others: Who will we need to convince?
  • Fear of the unknown: Will we become just a “diploma mill”?

The last one here is critical — we don’t know what to expect when we don’t have enough information about the change, and this stops us from taking any action at all.

Knowledge is power. Below you’ll find answers to some of the top fears we hear from institutions across the country — and the true realities of working with an Online Program Management (OPM) provider.

FEAR:  Our online programs will be less rigorous and our online students will be less qualified.

REALITY: This is the #1 block. After all, your faculty and students are your top priority. From admissions to program development, maintaining academic integrity is of the utmost importance. However, don’t be afraid, as evidence shows online can be as competitive (if not more so) than on-ground. You determine the educational experience built into each course, and the same academic policies and controls that govern on-campus programs generally apply to online learning programs.

FEAR: If we partner with an OPM provider to deliver online programs, we’ll lose academic control.

REALITY: This is one of the most common fears that institutions experience — the desire and need for certainty. Rest assured, similar to on-campus programs, your institution will always maintain full control over academic standards and admission decisions. Your regional and professional accrediting bodies determine the academic standards of all programs, including online programs. Faculty are responsible for creating the course curriculum, selecting materials, designing learning activities, and assessing student learning.

FEAR: Faculty will never get on board with launching and teaching online programs.

REALITY: Resistance to change is normal, and faculty can often be the most challenging audience to get on board when choosing to go online. Often, they feel that online programs are “watered down” versions of on-campus programs, or that they’ll require extra work on their behalf.

OPM’s can provide a one-stop link to your institution’s critical services (marketing, recruitment, and student services), freeing faculty to focus exclusively on teaching and learning, not program and course logistics. With this direct support, we’ve found that some of the biggest faculty challengers become an institution’s greatest advocates. Also, online programs can lead to additional resources for faculty — more TAs, more tenured positions, or more time to do research.

FEAR: OPM providers aren’t flexible and will only work with us one way.

REALITY: I can only speak to our services, but we think you’ll find Pearson to be highly flexible. While we offer core services (marketing, recruitment, and student services), many of our other services are optional and can be customized. For example, course development is available but not required, we are technology agnostic (working with any LMS, SIS), and don’t require the use of Pearson print content.

Access our full mythbuster list here (myths and realities of going online).

Let’s talk about it

There’s one more fear we haven’t mentioned yet — fear of missing out, or FOMO. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to take or expand your programs to the next level online.

But first, ask yourself what’s standing in the way of your institution launching or expanding its online degree programs? We’d love to have a conversation with you about the realities of partnering with Pearson.

Today’s increasingly competitive landscape requires a strategic approach to successfully reach more of the right students where they are. Partnering with Pearson can help you accelerate strategic change while reducing the risks associated with growing your online presence. Our online program management services and community can help your students thrive as you build the brand and reputation you’re striving for.

About the author:

Jason Simmons is the Director of Strategy & Marketing at Pearson and has 15 years of experience working in the higher education space. He lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife and is the author of Marketing Strategy: A Beginner’s Guide to B2B Marketing Success. Follow him on Twitter @jason_w_simmons.