DEPM 622: Module 2, Meeting the Demand – Opportunities for Business Growth in Distance Education and E-Learning

  • Report on the business trend you are following this semester. How is it developing? What kinds of changes, if any, are emerging?

Last December, I was able to attend a statewide summit on open educational resources co-sponsored by the University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, MarylandOnline, and UMUC. At the summit, it became clear that many schools in and outside of Maryland are interested in making greater use of OER and developing/sharing their own OER but need guidance in doing so. UMUC was held up as an example of a school that has made great progress in OER, having converted all courses to use no-cost digital resources. So it appears that, in some ways, UMUC is a leader of this trend. This means that UMUC itself has few models to look to in takings its next steps in this initiative.

At the summit, David Wiley and Cable Green gave an entertaining and informative keynote address:

(USM Kirwin Center for Academic Innovation, 2018)

This semester, I have found out that some progress is being made at UMUC in the areas that I am discussing in this business case. More systematic and scalable ways of dealing with digital rights and accessibility are being developed, as is a better infrastructure for handling UMUC-developed content. I can feel good that my ideas are in line with those of others at UMUC. I believe that the issues of who develops content and how those people are compensated are still open and important questions, which I will be able to contribute to.

  • In the first few weeks of the course, we have considered the ways in which DE could be considered a business, and whether students should be considered as customers. After reflecting on the discussions thus far, how have your ideas about DE as a business and/or students as customers been influenced? What—or even who—influenced your ideas the most?

My ideas about DE as a business have evolved to an understanding of the importance of making a strong business case when presenting certain types of ideas. As a faculty member, I am not used to thinking of education in business terms, and I think this is where much of the disconnect between administrators and academic faculty originates. Thinking and communicating in business terms will help me in interactions with a wider variety of internal stakeholders.

In reflections for Module 1, I stated that the student was the primary customer to consider. The readings and discussion broadened my understanding. I found the Sirvanci (1996) reading particularly enlightening in its discussion of the ways that students can act as customer, laborer, or product. In my business case, I will most likely continue to think of the student as the primary customer because I know my institution is interested in how it can attract students and thereby create revenue.

  • As with Module 1, review the objectives for the module and consider the following questions: Have the objectives been achieved? What’s been missing for you?

Analyze the key drivers for the growth of education and training markets in both local and global contexts

 This objective was achieved through the Perkinson (2006) paper and the World Bank (2003) reading from Module 1.

Contribute to both sides of the debate on the learner as customer

The discussion on this topic was particularly interesting, and I have described it to family members. I do think this objective was achieved.

Distinguish individual and organizational learner markets and the design of blended learning products to integrate with corporate development and knowledge management

I do not think this objective was achieved for me, although it is related to topics being discussed in the other course I am taking, DETT 621. Perhaps it was buried in some of the DEPM 622 readings, but it did not stand out to me.

Analyze the basic components of a business model and explain the diversity of models emerging in distance education and training

The “Online tutorial” (n.d.) on business models helped me to understand the basic components of a business model and how these components might be different in a business case. Throughout this and other courses, various readings have spoken to the different business models in distance education. Unfortunately, I was not able to access all of the information on this topic from the Standing Stones (2007) reading because I could only find up to page 18.

Explain the factors that influence the viability of businesses in this industry

Keegan, et al. (2007) was helpful for achieving this objective. I did not have much exposure to reading about failed ventures and found it a nice change of pace.

Analyze the constraints of organizational design and structure of traditional providers in responding to fast growth

I am not sure that this objective was achieved for me. It is one I would really like to learn more about!


Keegan, D., Lossenko, J., Mázár, I., Fernández Michels, P., Flate Paulsen, M., Rekkedal, T., Atle Toska, J., & Zarka, D. ( 2007). E-learning initiatives that did not reach targeted goals. Megatrends Project. Retrieved from

Online tutorial. (n.d.). Pearson. Retrieved from

Perkinson, R. (2006). Seizing the opportunity for innovation and international responsibility. International Higher Education. Notes of the Plenary Speech to Global 2 Educational Conference, Edinburgh. Retrieved from

Sirvanci, M. (1996). Are students the true customers of higher education? Quality Progress, 29(10), 99-102. Retrieved from Proquest ABI/Inform Global database.

Standing Stones, Ltd. (2000). Strengthening the Alberta advantage: Business models for distributed learning.

USM Kirwin Center for Academic Innovation. (2018, Jan 4). Maryland OER Summit – Keynote with Cable Green and David Wiley [Video file]. Retrieved from 

The World Bank. (2003). Lifelong learning in the global knowledge economy: Challenges for developing countries. Washington DC: Report Directions in Development series. Chapter 1: The Knowledge Economy and the Changing Needs of the Labor Market (pp. 1-20). Retrieved from


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