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Arizona State To Boost Distance Learning with Revenue Sharing Deal

Arizona State University is making a giant leap with its online program, with ambitions to grow enrollment tenfold. The Tempe university has signed on with Pearson eCollege and ESM to power a new set of services for ASU Online, intended to promote and support student enrollment, engagement, and retention in its 30 online degree programs. Rather than a straight licensing deal, the partnership includes revenue sharing.

Under the agreement, Arizona State faculty will continue to design and teach every online course as well as establish and enforce all instructional and academic policies. As a spokeswoman for Pearson explained, the initiative blends "the commercial, operational, and financial capabilities of a for-profit business with the academic ethos, resources, and brand of a major public education institution."

Pearson will provide three applications: LearningStudio, its learning management system, for the delivery of the university's online programs; Academic Enterprise Reporting to monitor and analyze trends in student performance; and Learning Outcome Manager for tracking learning objectives and goals. The latter two programs are part of LearningStudio.

ESM, an education-focused call center service provider, will perform marketing, admissions, and student support functions. The company will help ASU Online identify interested students and do recruitment and enrollment operations. The company will also provide retention support services to encourage students to stay engaged with their classes and the institution while they're in class and after graduation.

The initiative is expected to expand ASU's online program from its current 3,000 students to 30,000 students.

"When it comes to learning online, there is a direct correlation between quality services and student success," said Philip Regier, executive vice provost and dean of ASU Online. "The reality is that learning online is very demanding, and most students already have family and work responsibilities. The more support they receive, the better their learning outcomes and overall experience will be."

The two vendors will work with Datamark, which provides lead generation and enrollment marketing for higher education.

The Arizona State deal marks the first collaboration between Pearson and ESM. The two companies have formalized a partnership in which they'll take the structure they're testing out with Arizona State to other schools around the country to help them build and grow their online programs. ESM CEO Doug Kelsall formerly was president and COO of eCollege, which was acquired by Pearson.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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