Strategic Education

November 2017

CAPDM Newsletter

CAPDM Opinion

Strategic Education

Dear Reader,

Eduventures recently pointed out, two of the biggest for-profit online education providers in the USA, Capella Education and Strayer Education, are planning to merge under the new company name “Strategic Education”. Both organisations have lately out-performed their peers in the challenging US for-profit online education market.

Capella’s recent positive trajectory (ENCOURA article by Richard Garrett) apparently boils down to a new openness on student achievement outcomes; a push into competency-based education; and a strong brand at the graduate level in certain disciplines. The operational simplicity of fully online delivery is also a factor. Strayer’s decision a few years back to reduce undergraduate tuition by 20% also stands out, along with moves to incentivise student completion with discounts, and the launch of a custom corporate education initiative.

So why is this of interest? The move is expected to bring them cost savings estimated at $50 million over 18 months, which can be used to reduce the fees charged. Their combined undergraduate and graduate enrolments will sum to total 80,000+ students, placing them in the top ten largest institutions in the USA.

Say hello to a new global competitor in online distance education.

Pedagogical innovation

If you read the recent WonkHE blogsite entitled “Whatever happened to the promise of online learning?” you discover that UK domestic distance higher education enrolment is presently in decline having peaked about 10% of students in 2010. This is thought to be primarily due to increased tuition fees and reduced public funding for part-time undergraduates – almost all domestic distance learners in UK higher education study part-time.

However, according to the Tracking Online and Distance Education in Canadian Universities and Colleges: 2017 report, online learning is alive and well. The number of higher education institutions in Canada offering online courses grew 11% between 2011 and 2016, and online course enrolments increased 10% per year in the same period. In general, 85% of Canada’s higher education institutions offer online courses.

What do we take from this geographical disparity

As Jon Talbot from the University of Colchester commented. “The greater challenge is to devise programmes which people are prepared to pay for – and that involves pedagogical innovation.”

We couldn’t agree more. CAPDM has built the UK’s most successful online distance learning MBA programme for Heriot-Watt University, with 10,000+ registered student this year alone. MOOC pedagogies, such as those you see being promoted by FutureLearn and Coursera are too simple to handle substantial online learning hours. If we want to reverse the decline and see the uptake of flexible online distance learning get back to growth in the UK, we need to revisit our online pedagogies.

Designing online courses that simply mirror face-to-face classrooms with videos of trainers or professors, will achieve poor results. Using the new online learning technologies to personalise instruction for individual students is a good way to go. It takes investment in flexible content and capability, so that the resulting courses can be delivered and adapted to meet the individual needs of each student.

CAPDM has applied successful online pedagogies many times. Have a browse through our case studies to find out more.

Need a bit more convincing? Let’s have a chat.

Email me now.

Martin Smith
Managing Director, CAPDM Ltd.

About the author
Martin Smith MSc is a core founder and managing director of CAPDM Ltd. A software engineer by trade, during the 1990’s he was product development manager for Office Workstations Limited and GUIDE 3 – the first commercial hypertext product. He worked for OWL International Inc in Seattle as an electronic publishing solutions consultant, responsible for the specification and implementation of electronic publishing solutions for Ford, GEAE and the US Navy. Through CAPDM, Martin has been applying open-standards based single-source publishing technologies to higher education for 25+ years, and has influenced the development of some of the most successful online distance learning programs operating today.

CAPDM Case Study

The World’s largest online MBA?


Our involvement in building the successful MBA and MP for Heriot-Watt University and how it has been critical to the university’s global ambitions.

CAPDM Case Study

A decade of single-source publishing

London Institute of Banking & Finance

How we helped LIBF to become one of the best providers of banking/finance degrees among specialist universities & alternative higher education institutions.

This newsletter was originally sent by CAPDM Ltd. on the 28. November 2017.

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