In the past decade, an analyst at a financial firm advised Kevin Kinser, an education professor at Penn State University, to explore companies that partner with universities to create online degree programs. These organizations, known as online program managers (OPMs), offered recruitment, marketing, and technical support to prestigious institutions as they launched online graduate degrees in fields such as social work, nursing, and international relations.
Initially, the typical OPM model involved providing these services to top-tier universities as they expanded their online offerings in these areas. However, Kevin Kinser’s research revealed a deeper understanding of the partnerships between educational institutions and OPMs. He uncovered the complexities of their business practices and financial arrangements behind these collaborations.
Through his investigations, he discovered that while these partnerships had allowed universities to accelerate the growth of their online programs, they had also raised concerns about profit-driven motives influencing educational programs. As a result of his findings, Kevin Kinser has contributed significantly to our understanding of the relationships between universities and OPMs in the digital age. His work has also challenged traditional models of online education by prompting a reevaluation of the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders in higher education.