Online Program Administrator Responsibilities

Each online program should have a designated “Online Program Administrator” (hereafter OPA) whose role it will be to oversee design and development of any new program, and then coordinate and manage the delivery of the program once it has been approved to be offered. In some cases, the same individual may develop a new online program and then act as the OPA after the program is launched, but often these duties are turned over to another faculty or staff member to act as the OPA once the program is being delivered.

Here is a checklist highlighting some of the key responsibilities associated with the role of Online Program Administrator (hereafter OPA) along with links to available resources

Program and Instructional Quality Assurance

The OPA and faculty/instructional staff delivering the online program are encouraged to:

  • Be well versed in current best practices regarding content development, pedagogy, assessment and related instructional methodology in the delivery of distance education. Available resources include the following:The Online Learning Commission’s Five Pillars of Quality Online Education.The Higher Learning Commission’s Distance Education guidelines.
  • Develop an online program assessment and evaluation plan, and ensure that students submit course evaluations. Click here for an example of a model assessment plan developed by the Rochester Institute of Technology.
  • Attend meetings of the UWM Online Program Council, a network of faculty and staff involved with developing and delivering online programs.
  • Become familiar with the many campus resources available to support both student learning and instructional delivery in online and blended course modes. These include

One Stop Student Services Information for Online Students

Campus IT Support

UWM Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Accreditation and Compliance

Online program delivery has implications for UWM’s institutional accreditation and, in some cases, program-specific licensure and accreditation requirements. OPAs therefore need to be aware of the following in developing any online program:

  • Program continuity, including a consistent and predicable schedule of course offerings over time, must be ensured. Should the program be discontinued, there may also be requirements regarding how it may be phased out so as to accommodate previously enrolled students. For more information on these requirements, consult Laura Pedrick.
  • Accessibility of both online content and instructional support must be ensured, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For more specific information, contact the Accessibility Resource Center.
  • Pertinent institutional policies must also be followed with regard to students who are military service members or veterans.
  • Additional regulatory requirements may need to be met if the program includes internship, fieldwork, licensure, student teaching or clinical components. For more information on these requirements, consult Laura Pedrick.
  • State Authorization information.
Budget Development, Marketing & Recruitment
  • Visit the section for Online Program Administrators for additional information on marketing, enrollment, budget planning, new program development and approval processes. Please note that certain pages linked off of the Online Program Administrators section require a valid UWM ePantherID & password to access.
  • If you are creating a new online program, be sure to contact Laura Pedrick for additional information and to ensure coordination of campus online marketing efforts.
Course Scheduling
  • Be aware of campus requirements regarding the designation of fully online versus blended courses and programs. In particular, note that programs with the “online” designation may not have any in-person meeting requirements, even for exams. (Some in-person activity such as campus-based orientation to an online program are within-scope for online programs; for more information, consult Laura Pedrick).
  • Higher education has become essential to developing the 21st century knowledge and skills needed for the workforce, and the flexibility afforded by asynchronous online learning has opened access to a college education. Increasingly, the students enrolling in college are adult learners aged 25 and older, working students, part-time students, students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and first-generation students, many of whom benefit from taking asynchronous online classes that fit within their busy schedules.
  • Click here for more information about blended courses, which are distinct from, but may in some cases also be of interest to, students enrolled in fully online programs.