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Read this Before You Create New Academic Programs

Explore three ways you can build the team you need to create a new academic program for your school or college.


You need a new academic program. Maybe the pandemic is forcing your institution to more fully embrace online learning. Perhaps you’ve noticed an increased demand for a program you don’t offer yet. Whatever your reasons, creating a new academic program is a serious undertaking. To do it well, you’ll need a team of experts.

Crafting a program might require experts in instructional design, learning project management, multimedia development, technology infrastructure…the list goes on. You might have those people on staff already. More likely, you have just a few of the experts you need.

Fortunately, there are options for quickly crafting a team with the expertise to create new academic programs. The resources you have available and the level of control you want will determine which of the following three options is right for you.

1. Rely on Your Existing Team

The most obvious solution may be to rely on your existing team. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. After all, you hired these people for a reason. They’re talented and work well together. They already know your school or college. They’re familiar with your process. Plus, you’re already paying their salary, so there are no additional labor costs.

However, relying exclusively on your existing team has drawbacks as well. They may already have more than enough on their plate. The development of a new course, or several, might be more than they have time for right now. Besides, a team working together in the same way over time can get caught in a rut. Innovation is less likely when you already think you know the answer.

On the other hand, you may not have the expertise you need in-house. What if the program is something completely new, for example, an online program when you have provided mostly in-person instruction? Then your existing team will need to be trained. Training or upskilling employees takes time. You could spend time and money on training, or start looking for new team members to augment your in-house staff.

This solution is best if you already have a robust team and you are creating programs similar to what they’ve done before.

2. Hire an OPM

Of course, you could bypass the need for an in-house team and hire an online program management provider instead. The OPM will be responsible for most of the course creation and delivery logistics. No need for an in-house team at all.

Like any solution, this one brings both benefits and drawbacks. An OPM will likely take on full management of your project. Some schools may be uncomfortable with the idea that a course or program offered under their brand will be created without their full participation. In addition, you may miss an important opportunity to grow your institutions’ core capabilities.

Even so, OPM’s can offer valuable support. They work best if you have a small in-house team or require the other services, such as marketing and IT support, that an OPM provides.

3. Build a Customized Team of Experts

The most flexible option, the one that successful businesses use but many educational organizations haven’t yet embraced, is to build a customized team of experts specifically for the project. That doesn’t mean bringing on a whole new group of employees, at least, it doesn’t have to. Instead, you’ll assemble a flexible workforce of contractors that can be temporary or temp-to-perm. You’ll get the talent you need when you need it. Your team can grow or shrink based on the needs of the project. All the while, your institution will grow competency by working with expert consultants and contractors.

There can be some extra cost up-front when you first scale your team. However, the cost is lower than hiring a suite of full-time staff. The biggest challenge presented by this strategy is how to find the right people quickly.

This strategy is best if you have a small in-house team or if your project load does not stay consistent year-round. It works well if you have a partner who can support you in finding the right talent at the right time and even hire contractors on your behalf.

Support for Creating New Academic Programs

Teamed makes it easy to build a customized team of experts. We provide staffing services for the digital learning industry and flexible hiring solutions. Connect with our network of over 10,000 professionals, including highly qualified and vetted experts such as digital learning strategists, educational technologists, instructional designers, trainers, LMS administrators, and more. Whether you need to quickly assemble a team to migrate learning online or build a new program from scratch, we can help. Easily hire exceptional new employees, contractors, or contract teams to accomplish your online learning goals.

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