4 Ways of Creating Opportunities in the Competitive Online Education Market

The landscape of education is changing, with increasing competition from professional certification and development offerings. The demand for faster, more flexible, and “quicker-to-ROI” learning programs is on the rise, creating a fiercely competitive market where educational institutions now face increasing competition from professional certification and professional development offerings. Keeping up means institutions must adapt if they’re to capture the attention of prospective students.

Many learners are no longer choosing a four-year degree program by default. Among high school graduates, only 43% are pursuing a traditional four-year program, with 37% of these learners evaluating professional certifications, or a mix of two-year and professional certification programs. These learners are joining the majority of adult learners who look to programs that are directly related to employment.

To attract today’s learners and drive sustainable enrollments, institutions must explore and test bolder more customer-focused online learning experiences that address the full learning experience. In this article, we explore four ideas that we feel you should be actively discussing at your institution.

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1) Increasing ROI Focus

As the labor market rapidly evolves, learners are increasingly focused on the return on investment (ROI) of their degree. To align with these shifts, institutions must consider implementing programs that align more directly with current industry trends. These programs can either supplement current degree programs, or create direct paths to employment with a clear set of future credentials that can build upon gained experience to help learners pursue a clear career path.

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2) Integrate With Industry

Online education providers can expand their pool of potential learners by establishing industry partnerships with organizations seeking to attract new talent or upskill their current employees. However, outside the community college space, relatively few institutions have leveraged industry relationships as a path toward significant enrollment growth.

By offering programs that develop career-specific skills, providers can differentiate themselves and develop life-long relationships with their learners. Researching specific industries or roles can uncover practical skills that meet employers' talent development needs. Online education providers should measure the impact and ROI of programs to unlock more B2B partnerships and drive enrollment growth.

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3) Delivering a Distinctive Learning Experience

Increasing demand for online learning has reshaped consumer behavior and expectations for their online learning experience. To stand out, online education providers should enhance students' experience with personalized learning feedback and learning paths, program-specific opportunities to enhance student life online, a differentiated and engaging online experience, content designed for online consumption, and well-supported faculty and instructional designers. By providing a distinctive and engaging learning experience, providers can attract and retain students.

4) Building a Bold and Differentiated Brand

Your institution's ability to create a distinctive brand is critical to differentiating yourself in the market. That means no more cookie-cutter LMSes—you’ll want a learning management system that can be fully customized to and a sustained branding effort over time that increases awareness and generates inbound interest. Developing a reputation for excellence in a particular student segment, field of study, or unique student experience allows providers to avoid the tired marketing often seen in online education advertising.

In a highly competitive market, educational institutions must evolve to meet the changing demands of learners. We all know that institutions should investigate aligning programs with industry trends, establishing industry partnerships, enhancing the online learning experience, and creating a distinctive brand.

Now is the time to get started and to take proactive steps to address these challenges and secure your position in the competitive educational market.

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Brad Koch
About the author

Brad Koch

VP of Industry Management and Partnerships

Brad boasts over 30 years in educational support. Starting as an Associate Publisher at Pearson, he crafted books and software in support of technical certifications. His journey continued into online learning with product leadership roles at ANGEL Learning, Blackboard, and Instructure Canvas. Currently spearheading Industry Management and Partner initiatives at Open LMS, Brad is a seasoned observer of online learning's swift evolution. Grateful for his front-row involvement, he collaborates with institutions dedicated to refining the online teaching and learning experience.

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