OPX or the Global Response to the Challenge of Professional Skills and Abilities
Update and transform: the dilemma of education today
Online education is not just an innovative resource: it is a reality imposed based on results and the generation of specific value. The digital age has transformed our actions since this “new” world requires cutting-edge abilities that can adapt to constant change. Even from its early stages, online learning has had two main obligations: on the one hand, to continually readjust to the accelerated pace and ways of our era; and on the other, to take on the responsibility of transmitting and transforming knowledge.
Universities and other educational institutions have not all been able to rise to this challenge in the same way, since they not only had to adjust their programs and their entire understanding of learning but also had to align their models to the current conditions. It is difficult to find an educational institution that is ready and prepared for this challenge, and particularly one that has undertaken it quickly and without any problems; especially considering that one of the most important values of universities is to protect science and knowledge from mere trends and temporary fashions.
Digitize to educate: new learning models
Online Program Management (OPM) emerged as a result of the difficulties that universities face in adjusting to the digital age and as a response to the accelerated and constant evolution of the professional world. These OPM organizations are focused on developing online learning platforms, including everything from technology to the creation of content, and from innovative instructional design to student support strategies, enhanced by technology and activities that maximize the desired impact. Despite a certain amount of resistance, education has had to re-educate itself in order to reflect the significant change in the needs, expectations and configuration of the sector.
For around 15 years there were only three or four OPMs in the United States. However, that number has now grown considerably, reaching close to 30% of students worldwide. How does it work? The specialist organization works closely with a university to produce the tools required to accelerate its insertion into a predominantly digital environment, vital for generating and distributing value. The necessary digital transformation of universities (which is simply an adaptation of processes, metrics and roles to a reality dominated by digital elements) has found a key ally in these specialist organizations.
Today, OPM organizations offer not just the design of online courses, but also the conceptualization, strategy and execution of key processes including enrollment, user services, training for internal university teams, analysis of the program portfolio, and more. The number of students that only take courses online is growing every year, and it is important to find a way to encourage this group to feel empathy and pride in the institution, the alma mater. This is a critical factor of online education, both economically and socially: the speed and flexibility shown by the OPM have brought them to the forefront of the debate on the future of work and continuous education. The emergence of this niche has been the object of analysis by independent organizations, who aim to provide universities with a road map for identifying real indications of value in such an incredibly dynamic space.
The OPX model: online education is not a solitary game
The development of OPM has been spectacular, and they are now at the stage of establishment and consolidation, whereby the more solid players maintain their positions and lead the debate, by eliminating anything that does not add value and constantly transforming their own models for transmitting knowledge. According to a study by the specialized firm Eduventures, in the first half of this decade alone, the number of institutions using an OPM grew by 130%. In 2016, The Atlantic confirmed that 80% of the 2,600+ universities that offered online education did so through an OPM platform.
Today, this tendency is even stronger and is leading to the emergence of more sophisticated and powerful services. This is promising since it enables a systematic solution to the global problem of adapting professional competencies and skills to a market that has abandoned the traditional business model and is moving toward new formats.
Global organizations specializing in the analysis of the education sector (such as HolonIQ) are now emphasizing the shift from “OPM” to “OPX” as a response to an important change: these companies are no longer only offering “online programs,” but are now providing a comprehensive range of superior online educational services. This is vital for facing the global challenge of integrating the skills and needs of the labor force by consolidating the combinations and differing capabilities of students and creating effective learning “experiences.” Eighty global leaders have been identified, working with over 500 universities and 4,900 programs worldwide, with a total operational value of US$3.5 billion that grows 15% annually. This is mainly fed by the entry into the labor force of a massive generation of people who have incorporated the digital consumption of cultural goods as a consolidated habit.
This year, Capabilia was recognized by HolonIQ (for the second consecutive year) as one of the 60 most important global platforms in the world in terms of OPX — a unique privilege in the region.
Although the future of OPX organizations could take different forms (more integrated into universities, or more separate from them), there is no doubt that the depth and speed of the changes in the labor market demand a unique approach that takes account of the particularities of a new demographic group.