Learn About Your Community | Origin: OP106

This is a general discussion forum for the following learning topic:

Developing New Programs: Research and Selection --> Learn About Your Community

Post what you've learned about this topic and how you intend to apply it. Feel free to post questions and comments too.

It is important to reach out to a variety of stakeholders to obtain information. This section listed several members of the community that I did not anticipate or consider contacting to obtain information about the feasibility of a new program.

When it comes to national, online programs that span multiple states, narrowing in on communities is a greater challenge. This is something I will consider as I continue my journey.

You have to very inclusive in how you obstain infromation! There were a lot of members that were mentioned, so I would have to carefully consider everything before diong or implementing something. 


At my institution we advocate a "culture of data" and track and report on indicators similar to the ones listed as Institutional Data here. There are absolutely vital to strategic planning, not just for new academic programs but for every move the Institute makes. 

One challenge I've found is getting data from withdrawals or prospects who choose not to enroll. I'd love to have a more active pipeline into objections and reasons for withdrawals, but the usual instruments (surveys, phone calls, text messages) don't often work because those constituants have busy lives in which they've already decided my Institute doesn't fit. I'd love to hear how others get those data.


Forming a commitee is an undertaking which requires you to have good networking skills. Also, you need your stakeholders to be representative of the community, and this itself is no easy task. The community in which our organization is located is very diverse. This tells me that we are going to have to determine who is best able to represent these individuals. 

Accurate and good ressearch along with knowledge and understanding your present, past and potential student bases, companies that hire and do not hire your graduates is imprtant when consiering a new program.


Do reasurch before adding a new program.

Developing new programs is not as easy as just selecting one. You have to be able to show data the need for a new program and the benefits it bring to your overall program.


Data collection or intelligence gathering is an essential part of decision making about new academic programs. Equally important is the analysis/interpretation of the data that may provide trends, projections, and gaps. However, cross-referencing data sets may sometimes reveal unexpected results. 

There is a lot of research that must be done to show the justification for a new program. After reading this section I was reminded of how many departments we have and must consider when adding a new program. Getting the suggested list of questions to ask these departments was very helpful. 

Gathering community data is important in the planning stage. However, when offering online courses, the options are more far reaching than just a community. It would be beneficial to explore entire industries in the various disciplines in order to gather intel and establish a network of future employers.