Doing It Yourself: The ‘Internal OPM’ Model

  • 2019-05-17
  • Inside Higher Ed

Recent months have seen an uptick in hand-wringing about the relationship between colleges and online program management companies, which provide services to help institutions build, market and manage academic programs in exchange for a share of revenue or a fee.

But some institutions have the luxury of watching that conversation from the sidelines. According to Howard Lurie, principal analyst of online and continuing education at Eduventures, online program management companies have contracted with roughly 18 percent of possible two- and four-year higher education institutions, which leaves quite a few looking at going online by other means.

A portion of those institutions use what’s come to be known as the “internal OPM” model, even as some administrators that employ it balk at the term. Each one looks slightly different, but the common threads include a centralized office that partners with member schools in a single institution or campuses in a system; in-house development of key services including marketing, recruitment, student support and instructional design; and minimal, if any, outsourcing to for-profit companies.

Growing an online program portfolio requires a fair amount of trial and error and likely some missteps along the way. “Inside Digital Learning” talked to leaders of a handful of internally managed online initiatives to get a sense of how they work and what they can accomplish.