Online Programs: Building a Vision and Strategy

Online Programs: Building a Vision and Strategy

Developing a Comprehensive Retention Plan

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Build a business plan to strategically develop your online programs.


Online education has been thrust into the spotlight amid the COVID-19 crisis, with institutions around the world quickly moving many of their academic programs into the virtual space. While some schools were better prepared for this rapid change than others, the rushed pivot to online platforms damaged the reputation of remote learning at many institutions. It is critical for all institutions to step back from “crisis mode” and move towards taking a more strategic approach to their online program portfolios going forward.

Join us for a virtual conference that will help you apply a more strategic lens to the way you operate your online programs in order to maximize their effectiveness. Our expert instructors, who represent both public and private institutions with a variety of different degree, non-credit, and certificate programs, will help you address the following questions as you build out your own online programs business plan:

  • How do your online programs align with departmental, college-level, and institutional mission and plans?
  • What key curricular factors should be considered as you determine program format, modality, scheduling, credit, etc.?
  • How do you conduct effective market research to determine program viability?
  • Who should be involved in online program creation and how can you effectively manage internal and external partnerships?
  • How can you effectively market programs after reputational damage post-COVID?


Who Should Attend

This conference has been designed for institutions who wish to establish or strengthen their online programs, either at the institutional or the individual college level. The content will benefit both institutions just starting out in the online learning area and institutions with an established array of online programs that they are looking to strengthen.  


Limited Attendance

In order to ensure a high-quality learning experience, we have intentionally designed this Virtual Training to have a limited number of total attendees. To ensure access from both paying participants and also from those who have an All-Inclusive membership, when the membership cap is reached, only paying participants can register after that point (while spaces are still available). If you have questions about whether this program is right for you, please contact us.

The Academic Impressions Online Learning Experience

Intentionally Designed
Online Learning

Our virtual trainings go far beyond just replicating PowerPoint presentations online: these experiences are intentionally designed to give you the kind of robust and dynamic learning experience you’ve come to expect from Academic Impressions. These trainings provide you with an active learning environment and an online space where you can explore ideas, get inspired by what your peers are doing, and understand the range of possibilities around a certain topic. You will leave these sessions with practical solutions that you can take back to your team or task force.

What you will get:

  • A dynamic, interactive, and high-touch virtual learning experience designed to engage and set you up for growth
  • Seamless online face-time, networking, group work, and Q&A opportunities from the comfort of your own workspace
  • Practical takeaways and hands-on knowledge
  • Guidance from vetted subject matter experts
  • Unlimited access to all recorded online sessions

See What Our Attendees are Saying

"At first, I was skeptical that a virtual conference was capable of being both engaging and informational - but Academic Impressions has mastered it! The 3-day online event was structured in a creative way that all participants had multiple opportunities to interact with each other and the presenters. No one's questions went unheard or unanswered. Thank you for this great experience, it has changed my view of virtual conferences and I look forward to attending more in the future."

- Desiree Ford, Digital Communications Manager, Binghamton University

“The virtual conference has been amazing. The presenters have all been great and the information they’ve provided is going to help us better use our social media. Even though this conference had to be virtualized due to COVID-19, the online format has been set up in a way that we can all collaborate and share ideas. I’m very eager to take what I’ve learned back to campus and start implementing new ideas.”

- Chris Forde, Coordinator of Marketing & Public Information, Lincoln Trail College




Welcome and Introductions
11:30 – 11:45 a.m.



A Framework for Program Alignment
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
In our opening session, we will review key industry data and trends surrounding online programs in higher education. We will also discuss the importance of taking an intentional approach to online program planning that grows from the mission, vision, and strategic plan of the university at large.



12:45 – 1:00 p.m.



Working Session: Visioning and Goals
1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
You will be given time to define or further refine your specific vision and goals for your online programs based on the presentation you just heard. To help structure this time, you will be given a series of questions to dig into either individually or in your teams.



1:45 – 2:15 p.m.



Key Considerations for Selecting the Right Modality
1:45 – 2:45 p.m.
COVID-19 pushed things forward in unusual ways for those schools who were not adequately prepared to effectively deliver online formats. This resulted in negative online learning experiences for many students. During this session, we will examine how institutions can be more intentional about identifying online and HyFlex models that support their institutional mission and better serve students.



2:45 – 3:00 p.m.



Strategies for Online Student Success
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
In addition to curriculum considerations for moving programs online, it is important to identify the specific needs of your online students. During this session, we will walk through key elements to consider around student success and retention in the online space.



Day 1 Close
4:00 – 4:15 p.m.



OPTIONAL DEMONSTRATION: Balanced Scorecard for External Program Demand
4:15 – 4:45 p.m.
During this optional session, you will have an opportunity to preview a balanced scorecard approach using the latest technology. We will provide a hands-on experience where you can bring your own market demand questions and practice answering them using a trial subscription service. You will leave with resources and reports regarding market trends that you could use immediately for your own analysis.



OPTIONAL: Networking Groups
11:00 – 11:30 a.m.



Day 2 Welcome
11:30 – 11:45 a.m.



Resource Planning and Budgeting
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Building upon the vision and goals you have established, we will focus on building a business plan for your institution. You will have time to strategize around the type of resource planning and support you will need to achieve your goals. Topics for conversation include financial models, budget, fee structures, organizational models, and staffing considerations. Samples of business plans will be provided.



1:00 – 1:15 p.m.



Conducting Market Research for Online Programs
1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Adding a new online program can increase enrollment and revenue, if you pick the right one. You need sound information on student demand, employer demand, and competition in your markets and nationwide. In this session, you will learn where to find good, current data on student demand by program. We will also share sources on employer hiring and skill requirements. Finally, we will give you metrics and sources for competitive data and indicators of market saturation. You will leave with a better understanding of the research and analysis you can do to ensure your new online programs are successful.



2:15 – 2:45 p.m.



Collaborating Effectively with Faculty
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
In this session we will focus on how to forge or strengthen partnerships with faculty in a way that will be conducive to strategic online program development. We will also discuss how to respond to and support faculty who previously had negative experiences teaching online. You will have a chance to share the nuances of your process for navigating this issue at your institution with the group. You will come away with practical tips for more effective collaboration with faculty in the context of online programs.



3:00 – 3:15 p.m.



Managing Key Partnerships for Online Programs
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Online programs cannot be successful in a vacuum. Effective management of partnerships with both internal stakeholders (Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, IT, etc.) and external partners like OPMs, is a critical component to the development and implementation of your program. To add to this complexity, many institutions rushed into partnerships in response to COVID-19 and now are locked into contracts that are less than ideal. We will examine:

  • How do you effectively manage internal partnerships?
  • What are the best practices of managing an external partnership?
  • What can you do if a partnership is not going well but you signed a multi-year contract?



Day 2 Close
4:15 – 4:30 p.m.



OPTIONAL: Networking Groups
11:00 – 11:30 a.m.



Day 3 Welcome
11:30 – 11:45 a.m.



Marketing your Online Programs in the Era of COVID-19
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
We will explore the topics of differentiation and value as they relate to branding and marketing strategies for your online programs. Specific questions to be explored include:

  • What is the brand and value of online education at your institution?
  • What are best practices for creating and articulating value propositions for online programs?
  • How can we tell the positive stories of online education to change the perceptions around negative experiences after the transition to remote learning triggered by COVID-19?



1:00 – 1:30 p.m.



Next Steps to Finalize Your Online Program Business Plan
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
In our final session, you will continue to work through your business plan and identify action steps to take back to your team to help move your online program work forward.



Final Questions & Conference Close
2:30 – 2: 45 p.m.




Kristen Betts

Clinical Professor, Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership and Management
Drexel University

Kristen’s expertise is in online and blended learning, curriculum and instructional design, strategic planning, and evaluation. Her research focus is on online and blended learning, Online Human Touch/high touch, Brain-Targeted Teaching, 21st century skills, eAdvising, and eStudent Affairs.

Read Kristen's full bio here.


Vickie S. Cook, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Online, Professional, and Engaged Learning and Research Professor of Education University of Illinois Springfield

Dr. Cook has served on several regional and national boards, is a board member for UPCEA, and serves as a Peer Reviewer for UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership.  She provides presentations for top online conferences nationally, as well as regional conferences for practitioners.

Read Vickie's full bio here.


Mary Pahissa Upchurch

Senior Partner
Gray Associates

Mary leads Gray’s relationships with several of the firm’s largest education clients. Her work includes strategy development, program portfolio evaluation, new program selection, customer segment analysis, market and program analyses, brand value and offer optimization, and location selection.

Read Mary's full bio here.


Olena Zhadko, Ph.D.

Director of Online Education, Lehman College - CUNY

Olena is currently acting as Lehman College’s senior administrator charged with the oversight of all facets of online instruction, from web-enhanced learning experiences to hybrid course development and fully online programming. She brings nearly 15 years' experience in higher education.

Read Olena's full bio here.


Can't attend the conference? Buy the binder.

Questions About the Event?

Kate Poisson

Kate Poisson
Program Manager, Academic Impressions

*There are limited spots available for All-Inclusive Members to register for Virtual Conferences for free in 2020. Each virtual conference has a registration cap in order to ensure a high-quality learning experience, personalized attention, networking and interactivity. If the cap has been met, All-Inclusive Members can register with a $250 discount if space is available.

Please note the member discount is not applicable on conference binders or success coaching.