In the past decade, an analyst from an investment firm advised Kevin Kinser, a professor of education at Penn State University, to explore the partnerships between online program managers (OPMs) and educational institutions. OPMs provide recruitment, marketing, and technical support to prestigious universities as they launch online graduate programs in various fields such as social work, nursing, and international relations.
At the time, the typical model for OPMs was to offer support services to name-brand universities launching online programs in specific areas. However, Kevin Kinser’s research uncovered a more complex relationship between OPMs and educational institutions. He investigated the business practices and financial arrangements behind these partnerships and discovered that while they enabled universities to expand their online programs more quickly, they also raised concerns about profit-driven motives influencing educational programs.
Kinser’s findings shed light on the evolving landscape of online education and its relationships with OPMs. His research challenged traditional models of online education by prompting a reassessment of stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities in higher education.
Today, as online learning continues to grow in popularity, it is important for educators and policymakers alike to understand the complexities of these partnerships and their potential impact on higher education.