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|CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CANADIAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES MARKETING ONLINE EDUCATION
|Fahy, Pat (Centre for Distance Education)
|Hoven, Debra (Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University)
Jugdev, Kam (Faculty of Business, Athabasca University)
Hart, Kendra (Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University)
|Doctor of Education (EdD) in Distance Education
|Centre for Distance Education
|This dissertation is the result of research into the marketing practices of Canadian universities for online education. The research questions asked: What are the types of activities used by Canadian universities for the marketing of online education? Why are they using these activities? What other marketing activities might universities consider?
A general inductive methodology based on Grounded Theory (GT) guided the data collection and analysis. Data were collected from a sample of 14 universities identified by the Canadian Virtual University (CVU) as active in marketing online education. Data included material gathered from university websites, social media, and interviews with university representatives.
Coding and categorization of the data identified eight main areas of marketing conducted by universities. These are managing and leveraging the brand, reflecting product quality, understanding online students and prospective students, exploring and expanding markets, attracting inquiries, maintaining useful websites, initiating and maintaining relationships, and facing challenges. Each of these areas of activity is explained in the research results.
The influence of the brand on other marketing activities led to the identification of distinct types of situations for marketing online education that are informed by extant theories. Universities that are well established as primarily large, campus-based institutions, have high brand loyalty in their regions. The brand loyalty extends to online courses. This situation is inforned by the theory of retail gravitation, which provides the metaphor of brand gravity (see glossary) as a factor for attracting both online and classroom-based students. Brands with high loyalty and low overall market penetration are an exception to the theory of double jeopardy (see glossary). The theory or law of double jeopardy shows a correlation between market penetration and brand loyalty. Brands tend to increase loyalty only as market penetration also increases.
This analysis provides hypotheses for marketing online education that can be used for further research: the identification of competitor behaviors, the promotion of online education as a brand category, and the allocation of advertising and promotion budgets. The analysis provides insights into the marketing process that will be of interest to university administrators responsible for marketing online education programs.
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