What is the main barrier to developing a sustainable business on online education?

December Issue

CAPDM Newsletter


CAPDM Discussion

What is the main barrier to developing a sustainable business on online education?

Dear Reader,

As 2016 draws to a conclusion we all tend to look back to see what has been achieved over the year. For CAPDM, now in its 21st year of operation, there has been one or two major achievements:

  • the launch of a Russell Group university fully online masters, and
  • the imminent launch of a Russell Group online MBA.

However having spent 21 years knocking down the many barriers that can stand in the way of such developments happening, we still see clients facing difficulties with the transition to online education as a business.

That prompted me to use this message to ask a simple question:

  • What is the main barrier to your institution developing a viable and sustainable business on online education?

Please email a reply with your single biggest issue, though I would be happy to receive a list as there is often a set of barriers. Replies will summarised anonymously in a simple, single chart.

Note that I deliberately used the phrase ‘viable and sustainable business’. Many institutions have developed some ‘e-learning’ or a first online course that probably derives little income or one which can be readily replicated. Developing a full programme (masters or undergraduate) as a strategic step, and requiring a cultural shift, is a different proposition altogether. We try to summarise the thinking in this paper.

Even in 2016 barriers are very much still there. The big MOOC providers, by way of example, also find it difficult to make the transition from simple free mini-courses to sustained income through accredited full programmes despite their heralded claims of success in changing the way education works.

Please do get in touch.

Email me now.

Ken Currie
Director, CAPDM Ltd.


About the author
Ken Currie has been working with universities for over 25 years developing their strategies and businesses in online distance learning (ODL). In the early 1990s, he was the key designer/developer of the globally successful Heriot-Watt online MBA and undergraduate Management Programme, and has continued to develop ODL businesses with other institutions in the UK and beyond. In recent times he helped to initiate ‘Global Online’ at Edinburgh Napier, and the ‘One World’ MBA at West of Scotland universities, and currently works closely with the University of London’s International Academy.


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This newsletter was originally sent by CAPDM Ltd. on the 08. December 2016.

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