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After two decades of brushing aside concern for how digital would disrupt higher education, college presidents recognize that the wolf may be arriving in the form of large, gold-plated public universities investing hundreds of millions to capture a winner’s share of the adult/online and military market. Penn State Global, Arizona State University, and Purdue Global will soon be joined by the University of Maryland Global Campus, which plans to increase its marketing budget by $500M to grow online students from 90,000 to 120,000. The University of Massachusetts system vowed to become a leader in online education by investing heavily in marketing, as has the University of Missouri system looking to invest enough marketing dollars to grow their online enrollment from 75,000 to 120,000 by 2023. They’re pursuing a digitally savvy market of over 8 million non-traditional students — working professionals, active-duty military personnel and veterans — either starting or re-starting progress toward a degree. Welcome to the marketing arms race … Continue reading

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I have four pieces of advice. Pilot then scale First, follow the timeless principle of pilot then scale. Take one course online rather than offer an entire degree online. Then take one degree online instead of taking half a dozen degrees online. Start with unique programs Second, build early successes by piloting with a unique program that has a chance for enrollment success. For instance, taking the MBA in Sustainability program online is far easier than competing in the ferocious MBA market. Make them remarkable Third, make your first online course remarkably strong and visually stunning. It will set the tone for others who will follow. Bet on champions Fourth, start your journey with a faculty champion who wants to make a mark. Remember change is hard. You want to be smart, set the tone, and forge a path for others to follow. Learn more about our higher education marketing services.

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The question of whether MOOCs pose a threat of extinction to brick-and-mortar institutions is akin to the argument of whether digital music destroyed, is destroying, or will destroy the music industry. The answers to the latter questions are no, no and no, while the answer to the former is still no. MOOCs are goosing the educational landscape today the same way Napster and mp3s roused a coasting music industry in the early aughts. “The paint is barely dry,” wrote Laura Pappano about emerging MOOCs in 2012, “yet edX, the nonprofit start-up from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has 370,000 students this fall in its first official courses. That’s nothing. Coursera, founded just last January, has reached more than 1.7 million — growing ‘faster than Facebook,’ boasts Andrew Ng, on leave from Stanford to run his for-profit MOOC provider.” The appeal of MOOCs, much like the appeal of Napster and other music-sharing sites, is affordability (sometimes free), access, speed, … Continue reading

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