Online Course Exchange (OCE) | FAQ

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

WICHE is closely monitoring the outbreak of “SARS-CoV-2,” and the disease it causes, which has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). To inform and facilitate your response to a rapidly changing situation, WICHE has compiled the following set of resources, which will be updated as new information becomes available.

About Revenue

  • Who decides on the pricing model to be used in the Exchange?
    Each consortium decides which pricing model or models will be used in its Exchange by its participating institutions. The price published in the OCE catalog should include both the tuition and fees so students are not surprised by additional costs after enrolling in a course taught by another institution. Possible pricing models include:
    • Common Wholesale Price. A consortium and its members may set a common wholesale price per credit hour or per course—the price at which an institution will sell a seat in an online course to another institution. The consortium may set more than one wholesale price. For example, it may charge $150 per credit hour for an undergraduate course and $200 per credit hour for graduate courses. It could also set a common wholesale price for seats in all undergraduate courses except for those in a particular discipline—business, for example—that would be offered at a higher common wholesale price. By limiting the number of wholesale price levels, the consortium’s financial transactions are more manageable. For Exchanges using this model, EI’s typically charge their students their normal tuition rates to ensure transparency to the student. Since these seats would otherwise be empty, the TI earns additional revenue. If the wholesale price is lower than the normal tuition rates, the EI makes some additional revenue in addition to savings from forgoing the developing and offering of the course.
    • Negotiated Wholesale Price. Members contracting for the creation of a new course or a section from a member institution may negotiate a wholesale price that is specific to this contract. That negotiated wholesale price includes the cost of hiring an instructor for the new section and may include a discount for volume enrollments.
    • Retail Price. The retail price is the regular price of tuition or tuition and fees that is charged to the student by an institution. A consortium may allow its member institutions to charge their regular retail prices to other institutions rather than set a wholesale price. Most likely these institutions would then charge this same retail price to their students—which could be higher or lower than tuition at their home institutions and confusing. If the institutions decide to tack on an additional fee, students will choose to enroll directly at the TI because it is cheaper—defeating the effectiveness of the exchange.
    • Common Retail Price. A consortium and its members may choose to set a common retail price per credit hour or per course—the price at which each institution will sell a seat in an online course listed in the OCE catalog to students at other member institutions. This is user-friendly for students and the recommended configuration for the Program Exchange. A common wholesale price may be difficult to achieve in places where tuition is set by the legislature, there is a differential for out-of-state students, or when institutions from multiple states are members of the consortium. This is the model used by NEXus.
  •  What if the common wholesale price is lower than our institution’s tuition and fees?
    The Enrolling Institution may keep the difference to use as it sees fit.
  • What if the common wholesale price is higher than our institution’s tuition and fees?
    The Enrolling Institution is encouraged to sell the course seats to its students at the same price as seats in its other online courses, but it has the ability to adjust the price to cover its costs.  No instructor costs and FTE subsidies may make it possible to realize a gain even if the common wholesale price is higher than the retail price the EI charges the student.
  • What is the WICHE OCE administrative fee? 
    The WICHE OCE administrative fee is a fixed percentage charge deducted from the common and negotiated wholesale prices.  The administrative fee is set by WICHE each year.
  • Who gets to count the FTE? 
    The Enrolling Institution counts the FTE.
  • How can we benefit as a Teaching Institution if we can’t count the FTE?
    There are several ways. By listing the course in other institutions’ catalogs, you can increase your enrollment revenue and also make a course that you might otherwise cancel viable. You can increase the opportunity for your students to interact with students from other institutions and parts of the country.  You can increase the recognition for the quality of your course and the credentials of your faculty member as the course is approved and recommended by faculty at other member institutions.  In addition, if you import other courses as an Enrolling Institution, you may achieve a “balance of trade” as you count the FTE for students you enroll in those exchange courses.
  • How can we as an Enrolling Institution benefit if we must pay the Teaching Institution for enrollments? 
    There are several ways.  Although you must pay the Teaching Institution the agreed upon common wholesale price, you can count the FTE, and save expenditures for the instructor and others for the development and teaching of the course.  By selecting quality courses to supplement your offerings—assuring the student of transfer and articulation in advance—you can build a stronger relationship with the student, increasing chances for student success and retention.  You might want to use any extra FTE to fund the position of the ICE PIC so that individual has more time to devote to importing and exporting courses with the goal of establishing a balance of trade for your institution.  

For Faculty

  • What is WICHE OCE?
    The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Internet Course Exchange (WICHE OCE) is a set of policies, procedures, and support systems for sharing seats in online courses among a consortium.

  • How does a faculty member get a course onto WICHE OCE?
    Once a consortium becomes a client of WICHE OCE,the member institution appoints an OCEProgram Information Coordinator (PIC) to work with its colleges and departments on a Course Offering Plan.  The plan directs the work of the ICE PIC who also loads your institution’s courses into the ICE database.. 

  • Tell me more about a Course Offering Plan.
    Course Offering Plan is developed by a particular college, department, or even faculty member.  It gives the OCE PIC information about the courses to be offered, when they are to be offered, and how many “seats” for students are to be made available to other consortium institutions.  The Course Offering Plan is integral to successful sharing.

  • How do students from another institution get into my class?
    Student information is accessed from the enrolling institution by the OCE PIC through WICHE OCE.  Students are loaded into your class either by hand or put into a “shadow” course that automatically dumps into your course.

  • How do I give grades to WICHE OCE students?
    At most institutions, you would give grades the way you give them to your students on your campus.  It is the responsibility of the OCE PIC to load the grades into the OCE database (an encrypted, password protected site).  An OCE PIC from the student’s institution puts the grade into their institutional system.

  • What if the semester schedule at my institution differs from the schedule at the student’s institution?
    You follow your institutional schedule for start date, end date, and holidays.  You may, however, be asked to provide a grade a bit early.  You would know early in the semester if that request had been made.

  • Who is my  OCE PIC and is there a document that gives me complete information about WICHE OCE?
    Contact your consortium representative to find information regarding your OCE PIC.  Check out the Operations Manual for more information about how OCE operates.

About Collaborative Initiatives

  • What are the advantages to my institution to participate in OCE Collaborative Initiatives?
    In addressing common needs with shared resources, participating consortia institutions have the opportunity to jointly develop and deliver higher quality and more robust online courses and programs than they could on their own. By aggregating the supply of students across the region, certain courses may be financially viable that would not be so if offered by a single institution.

  • Why would faculty members want to participate in OCE Collaborative Initiatives?
    Most faculty members really enjoy the opportunity to work with their colleagues at other client institutions. It gives them a chance to grow professionally as they share their expertise. This is especially true for faculty in small departments and those teaching in niche subject areas.

  • How are Collaborative Initiatives funded?
    This varies with the initiative. Some share existing resources, while others work with WICHE staff to prepare grant proposals.

  • How are Collaborative Initiatives organized?
    In general, each participating institution identifies an individual to serve on the leadership team for an initiative. The team, headed by a Chair, meets on a regular basis to plan activities and identify faculty members and other staff at their institutions to involve in them. WICHE staff provides support for these groups.

  • Are OCE clients required to participate in Collaborative Initiatives?
    No. Although some institutions are not directly involved in an initiative, they may still benefit from its outcome such as by enrolling students in courses developed and offered by initiative members.

  • Can non OCE consortia institutions participate in its Collaborative Initiatives?
    No, all must be consortia institutions to participate in WICHE OCE Collaborative Initiatives.  Membership may not be required for some of WICHE OCE Affiliated Initiatives.

  • How can I start a new one?
    Start by contacting the OCE director to discuss your ideas and identify what information and steps are needed to approach the idea about participating in a new initiative.