2U’s David Sutphen for OPM Research on 3 Questions

For a number of years, we have been advocating for online program management (OPM) space independent Research on institutional and student outcomes associated with non-profit / for-profit partnerships.

The OPM leaders that we are so gratified with are the ones who have made the case.

As 2U’s Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer, David Sutphen is well-positioned to address any concerns that OPMs may have with independent research, while also supporting the efforts of these sorts. We are grateful for David’s willingness to make this conversation transparent and open.

Q. In our previous discussions about the need for independent, data-driven research on OPM results, you are supportive but expressing some concerns. Chief among your hesitations is the challenge of getting the results data (from schools and students) beyond both other OPMs, and from schools that are running online programs with in-house resources. Can you elaborate on your concerns, and maybe share some ideas on how to overcome these obstacles?

First, thank you for the opportunity to discuss this important topic. These are the questions I approve of with the openness and the openness. I remember our conversations well. At the time, 2U and others in our space were frustrated by the lack of available data and research, beyond what we collect and analyze ‘in-house’, that could give us more definitive insight into how many students are enrolled in online higher education programs. persisting, graduating, and having positive career outcomes.

The reality is, we can afford to look for OPM-powered courses like these. The larger landscape of online programs, we need better results data online. traditional residential programs more broadly. For the most part, this does exist and it’s an impediment to our collective understanding of the challenges and opportunities of online learning. OPM partnerships remain a growing, but still small, part of the industry. So while it’s important to ask questions about the benefits and quality of OPM-supported programs, we have a great deal of questions to answer, as well as a critical moment for companies to continue to rethink (and, in many cases, begin) their digital. transformation journey.

To get to the heart of this issue, about a year ago, 2U and others in our space-approached University of Tennessee, Knoxville professor and independent research scholar Robert Kelchen found out and analyzed data from OPM Partnerships. He recently published his findings and wrote about the Inside Higher Ed – his conclusion that, essentially, there is no way to achieve student outcomes in OPM-supported online programs. Other online programs and normative programs in general include partnership models, using currently available College Scorecard and IPEDs data. He also makes some helpful policy recommendations, which we are in full support of.

As we’ve shared with you before, we are serious about data transparency and will continue to grow. 2U was the first OPM to publish a transparency framework and annual transparency reports that included our partners’ online programs (we’ve done two so far, with more to come) and commission research with Gallup to study the results of We’ve also published two of these studies, with more to come). From our own interactions with partners and their students, we see the positive impacts we have on peoples’ lives, but we also recognize that more work needs to be done and foster even greater transparency around outcomes. And we’re committed to that work.

Q. Do you think that non-profit / forprofit partnerships should be built around the research infrastructure? Should it live within a university? Or should 2U create an independent research group within the company? What do you see as the pros and cons of each approach?

We believe the recent analysis by Robert Kelchen of partnerships with other edtech companies is a good model because of the data analysis he has maintained.

Kelchen’s findings from the clear that we are doing better are more publicly available data. Without that, it’s far more difficult to answer the kinds of questions you have posed because the necessary data is either not available or in the way of inconsistent across institutions.

We’re looking to help our partners do more of this work, for example by supporting MIT and Harvard’s nonprofit, The Center for Reimagining Learning, as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Digital Education Research Hub.

Q. What do you see as the highest priority research questions? Do you think that the unit of analysis (at least for initial research) should be the institutional outcomes (the impact of OPM vs non-OPM partnerships on universities) or individual learners (such as graduate, debt, income, etc.)? What research would you like to see?

I am most interested in researching the 3, 5, and 10-year impacts of both online and on-campus degree and non-degree programs across a multitude of learners: income growth, overall happiness, career satisfaction, debt levels, continuing education pathways, and beyond. In some studies, post-graduate earnings stop at the 1-year mark, which for many fields does not allow for adequate time to measure career satisfaction, which may include factors other than just earning potential.

Gallup just released a blog post on the ROI of boot camps with the power of universities and the findings of Compelling – one year after their graduation, the median salary for all boot camp graduates surveyed was $ 11,000 higher than what they said they were earning. attended boot camp. Among graduates employed full-time for two years, median salaries rose from about $ 59,000 to boot camp after $ 70,000. The median income growth was 17%.

Having more independently-verified, longitudinal studies on postgraduate outcomes of degree and boot camp students in the online space, irrespective of whether they have an OPM-supported program, would also be enormously valuable. However, as Kelchen points out, for degree-granting programs, that start with better data collection and more learning modalities for colleges and universities, and may also require improved data collection efforts by the federal government. is more readily available to the public. Ultimately, better data will benefit students and create worse.

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