COVID-19 has put online learning in the spotlight. As more students need to turn to virtual settings to stay on track with their education, institutions pivoted to provide their courses online.
So how should your institution prepare beyond the moment to launch and grow online? Ask yourself the following questions about investment money and strategic opportunities.
How should you fund your online learning strategy?
As you prepare to launch your college’s online offerings, you’ll need to find a source of funding. Tuition streams will only gradually grow to contribute, so where can you acquire these funds? Institutions have several options:
- Tap internal resources — If you have discretionary funds to use to establish online learning programs, this may be a great way to go. Much of the online program investment is needed upfront.
- Leverage fundraising — Some institutions have received generous donations from forward-thinking alumni to expand favored online programs.
- Borrow funds — Many institutions have pursued this path, but in today’s market securing financing may be more difficult than before.
- Use partner investments — Investments from an outside educational provider like an online program management (OPM) company may fund your launch. They can work with you in multiple ways to help you meet your online goals.
Launching a meaningful online presence can require significant start-up capital and ongoing investments as you evolve and scale.
How to assess the market for your online learning programs?
Once you make the decision to launch online and find the money to do so, the next consideration becomes making sure there’s a viable market for your “product.”
46.9% of distance students now attend 5% of institutions.
You’ll want to be strategic in how you assess your opportunities and set up your programs. Here’s how:
- Conduct market research — Professional market research can objectively assess student demand and shifting labor markets.
- Evaluate your brand — Does your brand stand out in the market? You’ll want a solid understanding of your differentiators, strengths, reputation, culture, and ability to deliver.
- Name and price your program — This attention to detail will help you establish yourself in the market and leap ahead of the competition.
To grow online you’ll want to identify niches, clarify and extend your differentiators, and invest more heavily in branding and outreach beyond traditional markets.
Explore our resources for more insights to help build your online program.