A decade ago, an investment firm analyst recommended Kevin Kinser, a Penn State University education professor, to delve into 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.
At the time, the typical model for OPMs was to provide these services to name-brand universities as they expanded their online programs. However, Kevin Kinser’s research revealed that while these partnerships had enabled universities to accelerate the growth of their online programs, they had also raised concerns about the influence of profit-driven motives on educational programs.
Kinser’s work has shed light on the complex and evolving relationships between educational institutions and OPMs in the digital age. His research has challenged traditional models of online education by prompting a reassessment of the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders in higher education.