Institutions of higher education find themselves in precarious times. First, they are being expected to do more with less; most public colleges and universities are finding their budgets cut each year (Krupnick, 2008; Lyndsey, 2007; Will, 2003). As a result, many universities are attempting to save money by increasingly relying on adjunct faculty to teach courses (Finder, 2007). Second, technological change has forced colleges and universities to change the way they do business; specifically, to remain competitive and meet market demands, colleges and universities are offering more courses online each year. In the fall of 2005, an estimated 3.2 million students took at least one online course—800,000 more than during the previous year (Allen & Seaman, 2006). Enrollments are increasing by an estimated 33% per year (Tallent-Runnels et al., 2006). Third, in the age of standards and accountability, colleges and universities must account for student learning in ways like never before (Lederman, 2007). As a result of changes like these, colleges and universities are experimenting with types of organizational and administrative structures and business models that differ significantly from those used in the past. One such model, called the Enterprise Model, is described in this chapter.
Main Focus: Enterprise Model
Simply put, an enterprise model is a centralized and standardized approach to the design, development, and management of educational programs. An enterprise model can be adopted in varying degrees for either ground-based and/or online programs. The focus of this article, though, is primarily on describing the distinctive features and characteristics of the more common approach of using an enterprise model for online programs.
An enterprise model is difficult to describe for four main reasons. First, different colleges and universities adopt certain aspects of an enterprise model and not others. Second, some refer to their approach as an enterprise model—e.g., Regis University (Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities, n.d.)—while others have characterized their approach more as collaborative or entrepreneurial (Bishop, 2005; Knowles & Kalata, 2007). Third, an enterprise model approach to online education has its roots in for-profit education which, for proprietary reasons, tends not to share its operating procedures. Fourth, and finally, until recently, academics and administrators—generally speaking—have not written about administrative and management approaches to online education. Therefore, while an enterprise model is greater than the sum of its parts, its distinctive features and characteristics—which are addressed below—are perhaps best understood as lying on a continuum (see Figure 1).
A continuum of distinctive features of an enterprise model
Key Terms in this Chapter
Collaborative Course Design: The process of pairing an instructional designer and a subject matter expert (i.e., generally a faculty member) to design online courses.
Distance Education Unit: A centralized unit—typically at a school, university, or college level—staffed with instructional designers and web developers to help assist faculty to develop courses and entire programs online.
Enterprise Model: A centralized model—more often than not used in distance education units— to design, develop, and manage entire programs online.
Loan Ranger: A term used to describe how faculty—whether “early adopters” or current practitioners—individually design and develop online courses on their own as they see fit.
Entrepreneurial Institutions: For-profit and not-for-profit institutions of higher education that recognize the importance to be entrepreneurial when offering education online.
Standardized Course Design: A specific strategy used to standardize the “look and feel” of an online course as well as a strategy to integrate specific elements (e.g., standards, outcomes, expectations) throughout an entire online program.