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Running Scalable Online Learning Operations



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  • Introduce ourselves, workshop coverage Ask participants to introduce themselves, identify their institution and roles Note interactivity welcome and Q&A as we move along Identify participant resource materials, including worksheets used throughout workshop Note any “housekeeping” items – e.g., breaks etc
  • 1. Differentiate between business models and operational models 2. Discuss various business models: incremental, alliance (partnerships), cost or profit center, overhead/service center, independent for-profit Other models?
  • Reinforce how an operational model differs from a business model – e.g., it is an overarching and organizing framework Introduce WCET’s “web of services” – a holistic approach to organizing and managing operations, especially as institutions increase in size. [Note that this is a handout on their workshop materials so easier to read and digest after conclusion of workshop.] Discuss “spillover effect” and the importance of implementing a systemic approach to services and operations
  • Survey was a convenience sample and heavy on Doctoral and Master’s respondents but remember besides associate they are largest providers of online learning degrees Other demographics? 90% of the respondents had 25 or less programs/certificates or degrees available The degrees offered were masters, bachelors, credit certificates, customized corporate programs, and associates in that order
  • Read goals It is interesting to note that the goals of online learning 11. Returning a surplus to the institution   12. Contributing to the extension efforts   13. Contribution to traditional on-campus student retention   14. Increasing diversity of student body   15. Enhancing value of university brand   16. Increasing speed to graduation for traditional on-campus students  
  • The data show some correlations among models and how things are done. Generally we were able to generate several course development approaches READ LIST
  • After we received the data, we attempted to see if their were any ways to relate the financial models to business functions. To remind you our list of functions are available in the paper but they loosely connected to three areas critical to successful online learning delivery: business planning or decisions like Student services Curriculum planning
  • The lack of diversity in student services was interpreted to be either a statement that places like WCET, Sloan Consortium, accreditors and other policy influencers that services were expected for students regardless of how you run your business
  • What doomed Global Campus? The failure of UK eUniversity Why do others succeed? OFTEN UNDERESTIMATED! NOT THE SAME AS REPLICATING CLASSROOM OR BOLTED ON MODEL… E.g. UMass Online, Western Governors U (identify proper competencies, assess these, award degrees when competencies met –self-paced), UMUC, Grand Canyon Discuss why strategic linkage of business aspect with mission, vision, values is important and communication of those


  • 1. Running Scalable Online Learning Operations Dr. Meg Benke , Vice-Provost, SUNY Empire State Dr. Gloria Pickar , CEO & President, Compass Knowledge Karen Vignare , MSU Global, Michigan State University
  • 2. Agenda
    • Business Models (Karen Vignare)
    • Case Study from Empire State (Dr. Meg Benke)
    • Case Study from Compass Knowledge (Dr. Gloria Pickar)
    • Q & A
  • 3. Understanding the Landscape
    • Models and compatibility with mission, vision, values, strategy
    • Rubrics for baselines
    • Measures of success
    • Managing change in dynamic environment
  • 4. Business Models
    • Incremental
    • Alliance
    • Cost or profit center
    • Overhead or service center
    • Independent, for-profit
  • 5.  
  • 6. Respondents College Classification Sample Percentage Doctoral 31 Master’s 24 Baccalaureate 22 Associates 17 Specialty 2
  • 7. Goals of Online Learning
    • Rank Order (Most Important)
      • Extension, surplus, brand value, diversity, on-campus retention & speed to graduation
    • Rank Order (Not Important)
      • Speed to graduation, retention, diversity, surplus, brand value & extension
    • Rank Order (Combined top two ranking)
      • Brand, extension, surplus, retention, diversity & speed to graduation
  • 8. Online Course Development
    • How is it done?
    • Individual faculty develop and deliver
    • Individual faculty develop but others deliver
    • Faculty team develops and delivers
    • Faculty team develops and others deliver
  • 9.  
  • 10.  
  • 11.  
  • 12. Starting points and goals
    • Most institutions began online learning programs with 1 of 2 goals (Miller, Schiffman unpublished paper)
      • To extend access to programs
      • To improve quality of existing programs
            • e.g., retention, throughput
      • What was your starting point?
      • What were (are) your initial goals?
  • 13. Matching business models to strategy
    • What business model was chosen to launch your program?
      • e.g. within continuing education, provost’s office, academic department, etc.
    • How well matched was (is) the model to attaining your goals?
      • A business model is a way of capturing value of a product/service and turning it into a revenue stream that can sustain/grow the business
  • 14. Changing Business Models
    • Constant change is a given
    • Disagreement on whether response is for your institution or to the opportunity
    • Technology-driven
    • Customer opportunity—driven
    • Combination
    • International models especially those unfettered by global higher education leaders
  • 15. Institutional “Fit”
    • Why do some institutions succeed and others fail?
    • Using technology to develop new delivery system is complex
    • The link among mission, vision, values, and strategy is critical
  • 16. MSU Case Study
    • Functions needed for Scaling
      • MSU current methods
      • Vendor approaches
      • Costs/Recommendations
    • Comparative Survey amongst Big Ten
  • 17. Functions that Support Capacity and Projected Integration Points (w/ outside vendor)
    • The tables in the following slides illustrate
    • the key functions as identified by industry vendors necessary to support scalable online learning
    • the industry approach and key metrics
    • MSU’s current approach based on the existing online programs
    • gaps or challenges as well as anticipated integration points (with an outside vendor) at MSU.
  • 18. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Market Viability/ Research Approach : -Comprehensive market analysis highlighting universal market potential as well as specific niche opportunities -Often conducted in a “live” pilot format so leads generated can be immediately connected to program recruitment efforts (assuming the program is launched) -Cost = $20-40K per study Key Metric : -Comprehensive market research study completed in 4-6 weeks with enrollment targets -Advice sought from industry Advisory Councils -Faculty compile info based on their perspective of market place -MSUglobal Advisory Services - budget development, limited market research - Requires dedicated expertise, or funds to commission externally, to produce research in a timely and consistent manner with accurate enrollment forecasts. Anticipated Integration Points : -Access to institutional collected data
  • 19. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Marketing Approach : -Utilize Search Engine Optimization & Marketing (SEO/M) and pay-per click approaches meticulously -Comprehensive & Integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems which record all phone, e-mail, web and service desk activities -Dynamic web development to support marketing & sales -Email, print and phone campaigns -Budgets $500K - $1M per program annually Key Metric : -Spend 15-25% of program revenue generated on marketing and sales -AP or CT staff positions that generally focus on maintaining program websites and limited time on Internet marketing. -MSUglobal Advisory Services - asset and audience ID mapping -MSUglobal Marketing planning & implementation for select programs (primarily non-credit currently, credit in the past) -MSUglobal models to build reputation and increase research opportunities -None or extremely inefficient CRM and database approaches -Trade Show Exhibition -Limited print advertising -Unit budgets approx $10K per year -Requires significant funding for initial and ongoing marketing investment -Requires professional personnel to serve program needs effectively -Need web sites at central and unit levels technically and message aligned with marketing campaigns -Requires professional sales/call-center and CRM to respond to move from prospect to registration and admitted student Anticipated Integration Points : -Access to institutional lists and audiences
  • 20. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Sales Approach : -Business Development Teams targeting key corporations, military, government, global markets and community colleges -Attendance @ International & National Industry Specific Trade Shows Key Metric : -Spend 25% of program revenue generated on sales and marketing -None -Requires significant funding for business development -Requires professional personnel -Requires systemic approach with targets and evaluation -Opportunity to coordinate with Business Connect and Development Office Anticipated Integration Points : -Access to institutional relationships/audiences
  • 21. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Recruitment Approach : -Program specific recruitment teams -State of the art call center infrastructure integrated with CRM -Extensive and proactive prospect follow up strategies -Easy to use registration systems and processes Key Metrics : -Respond to all leads regardless of inquiry method within 15 minutes (even on weekends) -Generate 50 times the number of prospects and 10 times the number of qualified candidates that a program is currently generating -AP or CT staff positions that is almost exclusively reactive. Answering phone and e-mail inquiries and generally functioning in a “transactional” role. -MSUglobal offers CRM capability to non-credit programs -Requires call center infrastructure -Requires improved inquiry and registration flow -Requires CRM systems -Requires comprehensive systemic approach with targets and evaluation Anticipated Integration Points : -Undergrad & Grad applications are adapted and made available online through Vendor -UG & Grad app’s are “returned” electronically and interface with necessary systems for automated processing -Financial aid application, processing and award notification -Transcript collection and processing
  • 22. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Course Development Approach : -Use rapid course development practices and methodologies -Use scalable instructional development approaches to enable consistent teaching of multiple sections with different instructors -Use professional publishing workflows and quality control processes Key Metric : -Course development completed within 3-4 weeks -Courses quality-tested prior to launch and kept on a continuous update schedule -Use scalable instructional practices to allow for scale and multiple start times (6-8 per year) -Generally faculty led with assistance from TA’s or other student support. -Occasionally Academic Specialist or AP positions to develop courses. -MSUglobal non-credit course development models -vu.DAT (subsidized) offers: Instructional design, graphic design, course support and development. Video and lecture production. Simulation and animation production. Technical support -Opportunity to expand on current MSUglobal and vu.DAT design models -Need a “boot-camp” development model where courses are developed in 3-4 weeks (Rapid Course Design Model) with a professional publishing team model -Requires faculty incentives and standard outcome expectations -Opportunity to leverage 9-month faculty appointments for course development in summer Anticipated Integration Points : -Access to existing course content and artifacts
  • 23. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Online Classroom Approach : -Models utilizing vendor and host institution platforms are both successful Key Metric : -Instructional practices that allow for 6-8 start times per year -Faculty-led -Teaching Assistants -MSU/ANGEL -Distance Learning Services (DLS) HelpDesk - Requires reliable platform -MSU ANGEL Platform can potentially support the effort -Need expanded help desk service. DLS HelpDesk could potentially expand Faculty Approach : -Use master teacher model -Use of adjunct faculty -All instructors require training prior to teaching -Combo of MSU & Adjunct -Limited training for online instructors -Requires streamlined process for hiring and managing adjunct faculty and online instructors -Requires mechanisms for monitoring and ensuring quality teaching and learning -Need required training for instructors & support
  • 24. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Student Retention Approach : -Use program specific teams and program planning tools Key Metric : -90% retention rates -Use Academic Specialists or AP staff to provide advising role in some programs. -Primary role of the faculty teaching the courses -Requires improved information and registration flow -Need enhanced/modified degree program planning tools that keep students on track to complete degree -Need call center infrastructure and professionally-trained staff -Need comprehensive systemic approach with targets and evaluation Anticipated Integration Points : -Access to student records related to academic progress etc… -Access to degree planning materials
  • 25. Function Industry (Vendor) Approach & Metrics MSU Current Approach Gaps/Challenges/ Integrations Evaluation Many use a strategic planning approach to process data quickly and improve quality -Normal University Procedures -Need evaluation and quality assurance “systems” and processes