A decade ago, an analyst at an investment firm recommended Kevin Kinser, a Penn State University education professor, to explore the world of online program managers (OPMs) and their partnerships with colleges. These companies provided recruiting, marketing, and back-end support to prestigious universities as they launched online graduate degrees in various fields such as social work, nursing, and international relations.
Kinser took the recommendation and conducted extensive research into the OPM industry and their collaborations with educational institutions. His investigations revealed that while these partnerships had enabled universities to quickly expand their online programs, they had also raised concerns about the influence of profit-driven motives on educational programs.
His work has shed light on the complex relationships between educational institutions and OPMs in today’s digital age. Moreover, his research has challenged traditional models of online education by prompting a reassessment of the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders in higher education.