The single biggest mistake universities make when going online

Why a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work

U.S. News and World Report recently published its ranking of the best online MBA programs. The list featured 284 schools with online master’s degree programs in business administration. In December 2017, this number was 251, meaning 33 new online MBA programs were launched in the past six months!

It’s an understatement to say that online learning has emerged as top-of-mind for many institutional leaders. And for good reason. Scaling offerings through online programs or courses has become an inherent part of growth for public, private, and non-traditional colleges and universities. And for some it is even a matter of survival.

Every day, we speak to university faculty and administrators who are looking to create an online course or degree program to increase enrollment, expand their revenue base, or reposition their brand. Those conversations usually begin with the same question: “How do we put this course/program online?”

At this point, I look for a diplomatic way to explain that’s not the right question to be asking. The real question is based on a shift in thinking about online learning. You are not simply putting a course online; you are creating an online product. It’s an important distinction. Your product—the program, course, certificate, or degree—has to be unique and very specific to what your market of current and prospective students want. The question that should be asked is: “How do we create a world-class learning experience that’s tailored to our students?”

eSchool Media Contributors

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