University of Nebraska Online Worldwide Rolling Three Year Strategic Plan January 2010

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1 University of Nebraska Online Worldwide Rolling Three Year Strategic Plan January 2010 The University of Nebraska has established an integrated University wide distance education program to serve the educational needs of Nebraskans, increase revenue to the university, and through its branding and marketing, enhances the University of Nebraska s presence throughout the world. This initiative will enhance collaboration among the four campuses, strengthen the ability of individual academic units to extend key programs to a wider audience of students throughout Nebraska and beyond, and encourage curricular innovation for all students served by the University. This integrated academic enterprise approach requires organizational and business practices that will ensure that distance education innovations are sustainable and move into the mainstream of NU s academic and administrative structure. Vision Statement For the University of Nebraska to be included among the top public institutions nationally, and be recognized as a leader among internationally respected distance education programs as a provider of quality programs and student support services to a worldwide audience. Our Mission The mission of the University of Nebraska Online Worldwide is to help individuals transform their lives through quality education by broadening access to the University s best academic programs, faculty and student support services for Nebraskans, and students throughout the world. University of Nebraska Online Worldwide will fulfill this mission by: Creating statewide and national awareness of the University of Nebraska as a desirable and credible destination for distance education. Facilitating and supporting collaboration among the four campuses in development and delivery of distance education courses and degree and certificate programs. Increasing the ease of access by students and potential students who want to enroll in courses from more than one campus. Facilitating key university wide distance education support services that may be located at multiple campuses in order to achieve cost efficiency and improved services to students. Facilitating policy and process solutions that work for all campuses, based on best practices to support distance education, promoting shared standards and procedures and encouraging innovation. Facilitating new practices and procedures that will enhance the sustainability and integration of distance education into the mainstream of NU s academic mission. Supporting entrepreneurship and indentifying strategies to allocate distance education revenues to provide incentives, seed money for new program development, funds for marketing, and funding for support services and assessments. 1

2 Governance Structure The Online Worldwide Steering Committee, appointed by the President in consultation with Chancellors, includes the Distance Education Director at each campus and representatives of key stakeholder organizations within the University. The Steering Committee will provide advice on budgeting and strategic planning, and may recommend changes in distance education fees and financial protocols and other policies. On operational issues the Steering Committee functions in an advisory capacity. On policy and procedure issues, especially on new policies or revisions to existing policies, the steering committee will vote and their approval will be used to send the policy up to a higher level as needed. Distance Education Directors from the four campuses, along with the Director of Online Worldwide, serve as the Executive Committee. An External Advisory Board, appointed by the President, will be created to advise the Director and staff on developments in the field, emerging educational needs, opportunities for innovation, and to provide feedback on the Online Worldwide Initiative activities. This committee should include representatives of the State Workforce Investment Board, key workforce segments, peer institutions nationally, and others as identified by the President and Chancellors. Advisory Board should be appointed by October Faculty and staff from the four campuses involved in distance education programs will be invited to join one or more Communities of Practice, giving them a voice in strategic developments related to instructional design and faculty support, infrastructure and systems, student support, marketing and grants. Delivery Mode The delivery mode that distance education students are seeking varies considerably and is an important component of developing a useful target audience profile. Distance delivery can be broken down into three primary categories: Fully online programs students complete their courses/program entirely at a distance with no on campus component Hybrid or mixed mode (sometimes referred to as blended programming) programs combine on campus courses with some online courses or components of courses to reduce seat time Supplemental programs students attending class on campus complete some amount of coursework online While the primary focus of the University of Nebraska Online Worldwide is attracting new off campus distance education students; the student services must facilitate policies and procedures to accommodate seamless access for each of the delivery modes. Market Strategy Our strategic goal is to create regional, national and international awareness of the University of Nebraska as a high quality distance education destination. To guide this process, Educational Marketing Group, (EMG) facilitated a leadership retreat in September 2008 involving the President, Chancellors, Chief Academic Officers, Distance Education Coordinating Council and other distance education faculty and administrators to develop and adopt the brand platform. 2

3 Positioning Statement The University of Nebraska distance education is a leader among internationally respected distance education programs. We attract highly qualified, strongly motivated undergraduate, graduate and professional students who are serious about their education and want to study at a prestigious university. Our classes are taught by the same expert faculty who teach on campus so that the subject matter is always challenging, current, and relevant. Our faculty and staff are extraordinarily responsive to students needs, creating a highly interactive community of learners that encourages and values collaboration between professors and students. As a result, our students are better equipped to achieve their academic goals, are able to immediately apply what they learn, and gain a competitive advantage when they enter the marketplace. Brand Promise A University of Nebraska education wherever you are Brand Drivers The same expert faculty who teach on NU Campuses Challenging courses that are current, fresh and relevant Faculty and staff who are extraordinarily responsive to student needs A community of learners that encourage and value collaboration How the University of Nebraska Online Worldwide Works With the University of Nebraska Campuses: Each NU Campus Academic program approval Assignments for course development and instruction Instructional support Course scheduling Instructor evaluation Academic advising Faculty & staff recruitment of students Program admissions Student registrations Library, financial aid, and other student support services Incorporate distance education into campus strategic plan 3 University of Nebraska Online Worldwide In state, national and international marketing of NU distance opportunities Generation of distance student leads Facilitate collaboration among campuses for key university wide distance education support services in order to achieve cost efficiency and improve service to distance students Facilitate collaboration among campuses for new undergraduate and graduate distance programs Invest seed funds for new collaborative and strategic distance programs Facilitate policy and process solutions that work for all campuses based on best practices to support distance education Promote shared standards and procedures for distance education Encourage innovation in distance education Support the integration of distance education into the mainstream of NU s academic mission

4 Strategic Goals For a summary of activities that create the framework for the strategic goals and action items outlined in this document, see appendix I. This is a three year rolling strategic plan which requires an annual review and update by the Steering Committee. Strategic Goal I: Re engineer Financial Distribution The University of Nebraska Integrated Academic Enterprise strategy is built on the premise that the singular brand will create much greater regional and national awareness, resulting in considerably more distance only students enrolling in campus distance education courses/programs. The second assumption is that when tuition rates are set based on program costs, market factors, and entrepreneurship opportunities that, with increased enrollments and market competitive tuition rates, there will be new resources to support programs with the greatest chance of success, while reducing support for programs that are less likely to grow. Define direct instructional costs to include stipends, overload pay, technical support, staff support, and indentify incremental costs such as graduate assistants and new faculty lines assigned once class enrollments exceed a certain number and develop annual program and campus revenue and expense reports. Each campus to develop a financial model to provide faculty/department incentives to support expansion of existing programs or development of new programs, funding for support services and assessment. Encourage campuses to share ideas with each other. At the campus level, a percentage of new tuition revenue generated by distance education should be earmarked for new and existing faculty lines and graduate assistants so that successful undergraduate and graduate degree programs with strong demand can continue to grow. In collaborations with campuses, establish a financial sustainability internal five year review for distance education programs. Online Worldwide assessment to include funds for adequate marketing to create regional and national awareness, generate campus leads, and support new collaborative and/or strategic distance education programs with seed funds. As campus distance education tuition revenue grows, some revenue should be reserved to support faculty and graduate assistant expansion in new and existing multi-campus collaborative programs and other strategically important campus programs. If this is not done at the campus level, one way to address this need is to create a faculty/graduate assistant line item as part of the Online Worldwide budget. Strategic Goal II: Develop Greater Consistency in Program Pricing Within and Among Each Campus Under the Integrated Academic Enterprise model, Educational Marketing Group (EMG) strongly recommended that there be greater consistency in pricing within and among each campus. Price is an important element of brand identify. A pricing structure that appears uncoordinated for similar programs will tend to confuse the audience. It is also perceived as unfair competition by some University of Nebraska campus administrators who have higher tuition rates for similar programs than those offered by one of the other campuses. All in state and out of state distance education course tuition rates recommended by campuses require presidential approval. 4

5 Campus to determine tuition recommendation for course offerings in individual distance education programs on program costs, entrepreneurial opportunities and market factors. With support of campus Chief Academic Officers and campus business administrators establish common minimum distance education undergraduate and graduate in state and out of state tuition rates and price existing similar courses and programs similarly for the campuses. Higher than minimum tuition rates should be recommended for distance education courses/programs when market conditions support doing so, but no tuition rate should be lower than the minimum established rate and should be similar to comparable programs on the other University of Nebraska campuses. Any exception must be approved by the President. Collaborative programs will have common in state and out of state tuition rates for all courses that are set based on program costs, entrepreneurial opportunities and market considerations and is agreed to by program faculty and administrators up front and included in the program business plan. In collaboration with campus Chief Academic Officers and campus business administrators, establish course pricing and enrollment management policies to achieve desired balance between distance education only student enrollments and on campus student enrollments in online distance education courses. This needs to include on campus nonresident students taking distance education courses. Strategic Goal III: Create a Strong Core University of Nebraska Distance Education Brand That Will Create Regional, National and International Awareness and Generate Distance Education Student Only Leads for Each of the Campuses The marketing committee, with representatives from each campus, has the responsibility for developing and implementing the website implementation plan and the marketing plan that will brand distance education programs as University of Nebraska/Online Worldwide. This responsibility includes overseeing website and promotional communications to current and potential distance education students. A logo and positioning line have been developed. The goal is to identify marketing strategies to gain the strongest position we can in the marketplace. Tracking of data from the Online Worldwide website to better understand behavior and learn more about adult students, changing needs and expectations. Development of student testimonials and other resources to personalize the distance education experience. Benchmarking of relationships with employers, professional associations, and other gatekeeper organizations to optimize the impact on new enrollments. Leverage PeopleSoft for student and course information thereby storing all relevant course information in one location. Continuous improvement to the Online Worldwide website to ensure it is organized and functions in a manner that facilitates the visitor in achieving their goals, conveys the proper brand image and has clear calls to action (thereby driving leads to the campuses). Track customer service response time, follow up, lead qualification and lead conversion rate to determine what changes need to be made in serving prospective students and representing distance education offerings of the campuses. Periodic needs assessment and market research to identify needs and opportunities for new distance education program development with an emphasis on collaborative and/or strategic programs. 5

6 Development of a market research capability to test the market for individual distance education programs proposed by campuses. Works with campus business officers and campus Chief Academic Officers to achieve greater integration between marketing of individual programs and business goals. Strategic Goal IV: Program Development Several of the distance education programs are at the graduate level. For the most part, these programs involve smaller course section sizes than do undergraduate courses, making it more difficult to achieve cost efficiencies in support services. In addition to developing new graduate programs, there is a great need for a few more undergraduate degree completion programs. Ideally, with the option for multiple concentrations to help achieve cost efficiencies and serve the more than 255,000 Nebraskans who have attended some college but have not earned a degree. Distance education offers these individuals an opportunity to become more competitive for 21 st century jobs, increasing their earning capacity and improve their quality of life and communities in which they live in. Approval of new courses and academic programs adhere to the academic approval process that is in place. Establish a process that balances both bottom-up and top-down program development that is built around matching anticipated demand with key academic areas of excellence within the University and advances strategic priorities. Focus new program development around both mass demand programs and niche markets. Provide program planning (idea) and program development seed funding grants to stimulate new and expand existing multi-campus collaborative and/or campus strategic degree and certificate programs. To insure consistency with campus and college priorities and to address the potential issue of competing programs, the Council of Academic Officers will serve as the program clearinghouse for new distance education programs. Procedures will be established to support this process. The Council of Academic Officers is the governance body to address how to manage existing competing programs. This process will begin by having campus distance education directors in consultation with academic deans identify which distance education programs are considered competing programs with another University of Nebraska campus. New distance education programs will have a program business plan that defines the scope of the program, its intended audience, estimated demand, marketing/recruiting plan, the individual courses, and initial course schedule and revenue and direct expense projections. The business plan will be reviewed and signed off on by the campus distance education director, college academic dean and Chief Academic Officer and then submitted to the Office of Online Worldwide for review and comment, before being submitted to the Council of Chief Academic Officers for approval. Work with the campus Chief Academic Officers, Registrars, Budget Officers, and others as needed to facilitate policy and process solutions that support multi-campus undergraduate and graduate programs. Strategic Goal V: Obtain Better Student Data Information to Effectively Target Distance Education Target Markets and Direct Educational Resources Available student information required for making management decisions is time consuming to obtain. The reasons for this include the lack of system-wide standard definitions for distance education data elements and the lack of automated methods of data collection on each campus. (Most data is blended with on-campus institutional research data.) 6

7 Set specific management information standards and begin a process to collect basic demographic and psychographic data on distance education students. Continue building on standard enrollment data reports for the four campuses and use data to help make management decisions. Strategic Goal VI: Dedicated Student Support Services Research indicates that support services that are designed specifically with the needs of distance education students in mind are critical to an institution s ability to successfully sustain continued growth and achieve a competitive advance in the market place. Such services can be as fundamental as afterhours help desk support and advising, or as extensive as providing shared virtual student experiences through discussion groups and other forms of online community technology. To a large extent, the University of Nebraska distance education support services have been developed in the same fashion as its bricks and mortar programs and are reliant on existing on campus services and staff hours. For a large number of online students, nighttime and weekends is when they do their course work. Making it more convenient for distance education students to access essential IT and other support services at times that work for them is important in that a majority of adult learners are trying to fit their courses in to an already busy schedule. While the focus of Online Worldwide is attracting new off campus distance education students, the distance education service must facilitate policies and procedures to accommodate seamless access of off campus students, on campus students, on campus students at other campuses and high school students taking college courses. Evaluate and make needed changes to basic support services from the distance education adult, part time student s point of view, to include help desk support, pre enrollment counseling, advising, test proctoring, and financial aid to create a student centered approach. Evaluate current practices for students at one campus who wish to take an online course from another campus to determine ways to streamline procedures and make the process more seamless. Conduct distance education student services survey to determine level of student satisfaction of key services provided, level of importance of key services and areas requiring improvement. Address student access to NU libraries at all locations for relevant programs. Strategic Goal VII: Academic/Faculty Support Online learning programs cannot meet stated campus strategic goals without an engaged and supportive faculty. The Online Learning as a Strategic Asset Volume I: A Resource for Campus Leaders, August 2009, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities study reported, that campus leaders should consider such issues as adequacy of resources and support for faculty training and development, recognition of the additional time and effort it takes to develop and teach online courses, and faculty concerns about online learning outcomes. Other key issues reported by the study are professional support for course design and delivery, faculty incentives for development and delivery of online content, and institutional polices concerning intellectual property. Development of consistent and adequate instructional design and information technology resources support for faculty who develop and teach online courses. Development of efficient and functional processes to support open communications regarding all aspects of online learning initiatives. Address capacity issues by adjusting financial model, pricing of programs and inter-campus collaboration. 7

8 Support for innovations in pedagogy and student engagement. Benchmarking with the National Center for Academic Transformation and other organizations to identify opportunities for design innovation. Training faculty on use of Web 2.0 and 3.0 applications. Develop training programs for new and existing instructors teaching online courses; this should be developed within the Instructional Design and Faculty Support Community of Practice and informed by best practices of existing campus and nationally available programs. Develop faculty training that supports the use of new technologies being used by students. Development of recognition and award program for individual faculty and academic units. Review of standard intellectual property policy that covers faculty and university rights and responsibilities for online materials that are developed as part of an online course and address issues as needed. Strategic Goal VIII: Infrastructure and Systems The use of technology and technology software to improve the ability of faculty to offer online courses and to support student centered distance education services is an essential component of successful online programs. Identify technology related issues and put in place solutions that will allow students to easily register for classes and move from one campus s learning management platform (course management software) to another when taking courses from more than one campus. Define new technologies used by students and determine which ones should be supported for use by faculty for delivery of online courses. Identification of Web 2.0 and 3.0 applications that have potential for enhancing student engagement and collaboration. Work with the PeopleSoft technical team to learn more about how the PeopleSoft portal is developed and administered, to achieve greater use of the software to pull information regarding distance education directly from PeopleSoft and give access more directly to services for online students. Implementation of new content management and online advising applications that will aid faculty in facilitating the development and delivery of multi-campus collaborative degrees and certificates. Evaluation Criteria The business plan and strategic plan set into motion an evolutionary process to move distance education into the core mission of the University of Nebraska and address the key goals of the integrated academic enterprise approach to distance education. Measurable key indicators for each of the criteria listed will be developed by the Steering Committee and used to evaluate progress of the Online Worldwide initiative over the next three years: (key indicators will be developed by April 1, 2010) Serve the People of Nebraska Implement a strong University-wide marketing program to ensure that all Nebraskans are aware of online programs offered by all four campuses and provide easy access to pre-enrollment information. 8

9 Gain significant National/International Visibility Establishment of a single, consolidated image for NU distance education and a point of visible leadership that can facilitate contacts with national and international client organizations. Enhance Revenue Stronger awareness of existing programs and the development of new, market driven programs that will increase both in-state and out-of-state enrollment revenue for campuses. Collaborative Programs and Increase Ease of Access Faculty supported new multi-campus collaborative programs that have strong market demand and are easy for students to access. Identify Policy and Process Issues Facilitate policy and process solutions that work for all campuses based on best practices to support distance education. Support Entrepreneurship and Innovations The financial model will generate new revenue that will be distributed by each campus to support program investment in existing distance education programs and development of new programs and services. 9

10 Appendix I Background Information At its January 2009 meeting, the Board of Regents received a report from EMG, detailing their analysis of the University s distance education offerings and their recommendations for the future. EMG s report was the culmination of two years of research and analysis. They identified a major opportunity to increase revenue by expanding NU s distance education program within the state, region, and nation. However, they also noted that the current business structure was inefficient, tuition rates are inconsistent and below the competition, and the financial model did not incentivize program development. Their review of the distance education websites found NU is presenting multiple uncoordinated web experiences. They recommended that the University adopt a new Integrated Academic Enterprise structure, re engineer the financial model to bring tuition rates closer to the national averages for high prestige peer institutions, and market all programs under a single brand. At the June 2009 meeting, the Board of Regents repealed Regents Policy which required tuition for Nebraska residents to be the same for online courses as for on campus resident courses. The policy was replaced by the following explanation: The University of Nebraska is establishing an integrated university wide distance education program to serve the educational needs of Nebraskans and provide access to students who may otherwise not be able to enroll in NU degree programs. Through its branding and marketing of Online Worldwide, the University of Nebraska will enhance its presence throughout the world. The financial model assumes that campuses will recover campus expenses and that consolidating some functions will reduce campus cost, thus enhancing net revenue at the campus level and providing new resources for investment in expansion of existing programs or development of new programs. A University wide marketing program and support structure are projected to generate new enrollments that will support the Online Worldwide initiative and produce new campus revenue. To maximize the potential for successful development and offering of distance education courses and the success of the University wide education market, online tuition will be based on program costs, entrepreneurial opportunities, and market factors beginning in FY The proposed elimination of the current policy will allow the University to set both in state and out of state tuition rates for distance education courses through its regularly established procedures of either Board approval or Presidential approval for variances. All FY 2010 distance education tuition variance rates were approved by the President on July 31, The University of Nebraska Integrated Academic Initiative for Distance Education Business Plan, August 19, 2008 outlines Online Worldwide initiative action plan for the first 18 months. The business plan and the EMG University of Nebraska Distance Education Situational Analysis report include several recommendations to be included in the rolling three year strategic plan. 10

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