Posts from — September 2008

Crowd Trust question

Davids –

I can’t get the Crowd Trust website up – is anyone else having this problem?

And holy cow – setting the bar pretty high, module 4 group! It looks amazing!


September 30, 2008   1 Comment

Applying the Cube to Desire2Learn

Desire2Learn is the Learning Management System adopted by The Alberta Distance Learning Centre (my employer). A venture analysis of its market niche, based on the Cube, follows.

Market Focus

Desire2Learn’s primary market is Higher Education but it does have markets in the K-12 and Training sectors.

Types of Offerings

Desire2Learn’s onus is providing infrastructure to learning/training organizations. Its primary infrastructure tool is its Learning Management System (LMS) which includes the ability to manage content and communicate via various technologies.

They also provide services and content. Services include hosting, training services, and support to facilitate the implementation of the LMS.

Who is the Buyer?

In the K-12 sector, learning is bought centrally at the district level, typically a coordinator or superintendent in charge of learning technologies for a district. Marketing strategies may be to include the district coordinator and lead technology teachers from each school in the district in a showcase of the product with the onus in providing equal learning opportunities for all students in the district. Another strategy may be to build a “provincial” school delivering K-12 services to all Albertans, thus generating greater CEU funding.

In the Higher Ed setting, decisions on which LMS to adopt are typically made by the Computer Services Department, so they can support it campus-wide, coupled with techno-savvy instructors from the various programs of study that will be using the LMS. Moneys to purchase the LMS can come out of various budgets including computing services and/or a combination of departments that will be using the LMS. Higher Ed recovers the invested dollars on a cost-recovery basis so e-learning is typically more expensive for students than regular on-campus instruction.

The Training sector is very similar to High Ed in most ways except one, learning is bought for the learner. Companies typically do not charge their employees fees for training, since the training is specific to the company’s needs.

Global Markets

Desire2Learn’s market is currently within the boundaries of North America so it would be classified, based on the Cube, as wired Anglophone countries which mean excellent Internet infrastructure and English as the first language.

Development of the Market

The Learning Management System market is very competitive with other tools like WebCT  and Moodle. Both WebCT and Moodle have similar tool sets as Desire2Learn. What distinguishes these LMS’s is the fact that Moodle is freeware. However, it is not supported but there are learning venture businesses out there specializing in providing support and other services provided by Desire2Learn and WebCT.

The Desire2Learn platform supports import of content from other vendors, provided they produce a SCORM-compliant IMS package based on the current standards. Desire2Learn also provides content development for a fee.

Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

Desire2Learn’s market niche is working with existing well-developed learning systems synonymous with the K-12, High Ed and Training. These sectors will have existing learning systems but are using a LMS to extend their reach to service student learning needs wherever they may be living.


In conclusion, Desire2Learn is in a very competitive Learning Management Systems market, whose buyers are typically removed from actually using the tool on a daily basis. Costs to provide the learning systems are typically recovered from the student (High Ed) or by provincial (CEU) funding.

A market approach could be to sell the perspective buyers on its ability to reach out to all students within their local area (if attending a bricks ‘n mortar school is not appropriate) and/or to extend their reach to other students in the province (K-12) or other provinces (High Ed).

It seems the Training sector hasn’t been fully appreciated so there’s a market approach to explore.

September 29, 2008   2 Comments

Module 4 – The Emerging Market of Social Technologies

Hello Everyone.  We’d like to welcome you to the Module 4 discussion on the emerging market of social technologies.  Social Technologies, often referred to as  Web 2.0 technologies, have had a significant impact on the evolution of the web and elearning venture possibilities .  This discussion site is meant as an introduction to Web 2.0 terms and concepts, the services and tools currently being offered and the myriad of issues relating to the Web 2.0 venture landscape.  We hope you find the articles and discussions relevant and thought provoking.

Module 4 members are Deepika Sharma, Ellen Wu, Drew Murphy

About the Discussion Site

1.  Four Market Segments
The discussion site breaks the social technology market into four Web 2.0 market segments: Blogs/Wikis, Social Networking, Media Tools, and Productivity Tools.  Browse through market segment webpage.  Read the information, visit some of the example sites and read the related articles.

2.  Polls
Each page has a series of polls that ask basic questions about you and your understanding of these web 2.0 market segments.  Fill out the polls at your leisure and view the results.

3.  Surveys
Each page has survey questions that seek to gather you basic opinions and experiences on various topics related to the web 2.0 market segments.  Fill out the surveys at your leisure and fee free to comment on the information offered by others.

4. In-Depth Discussions
The In-Depth Discussions page contains several forums that raise issues around the various web 2.0 market segments. Browse through the forums and leave detailed comments and opinions to the posted topics.  Note: Please register for the forums so you can upload your avatar and receive email updates of forum activity throughout the week.

Click here to go to the Module 4 discussion site….

September 28, 2008   9 Comments

Aplia – Cube Analysis is an educational technology company that was founded by a Stanford professor of economics in 2000. Its basic aim is to provide a content management system that assigns and monitors homework in a variety of business subjects (accounting, economics, finance). The premise is that if students practice more frequently, they will master the course material more readily – obvious, but this system gives instructors the tools to measure and evaluate student practice.


Face 1: Market Focus

Aplia is focused on the higher education market, specifically on a handful of core introductory courses in business and economics.


Face 2: Types of Offerings

Aplia is a content management system that comes with pre-populated content specific to the course the instructor is teaching. It is therefore a hybrid between a content and an infrastructure provider.


Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

As is typical in higher education, the buyer is the course instructor. An instructor adopts a textbook and decides to purchase access to Aplia with it. Students therefore are required to buy an access code to the program, which is bundled with their text. There is the usual disconnect that you find in higher education – the person who makes the purchasing decision is not the ultimate consumer, either in terms of content or in terms of laying out the money. Aplia requires a higher degree of instructor-student interaction, however, than a typical textbook. Instructors monitor student participation and student results, and it is necessary for students to participate in these before going on to more difficult material that requires higher cognitive skills.


Face 4: Global markets

The core market is found in wired Anglophone countries, but it has the potential to expand beyond that to European countries with language skills.


Face 5: Development of the market

The market space this product plays in is the most highly developed: content is freely imported and exported, and local producers are striving to compete with large US-based companies.


Face 6: Learning Technology and other forms of Learning

Aplia is explicitly designed to fit within the already established system of university education. The problem that it tries to solve is how to maintain student engagement with course material, while not overwhelming the professor with grading. By automating some of the ‘lower-value’ grading and requiring participation, it forces students to be better prepared, ultimately allowing them to get more out of the course. Key to the Aplia experience is that the product cannot be sold as a ‘recommended’ portion of the course – it must be required. If you don’t buy into the basic philosophical premise (students must work hard to get good grades) they won’t sell you the technology.

September 27, 2008   8 Comments

ANGEL Learning

ANGEL Learning is a company based in Indianapolis that was founded in July 2000. They have two particular pieces of software that they market, a learning management system (ANGEL Learning Management System), and an e-portfolio tool (ANGEL ePortfolio) that they develop and market. ANGEL originally began as a research tool for Indiana University in 1996 and has since evolved into a whole learning management system.

Face #1: Market Focus. Who is ANGEL’s target market?

ANGEL’s learning management system was originally developed for Higher Learning, but since then has grown and developed and is now a system designed for all learners. A quote from the website says, “Honed by use, our products serve millions of students and instructors from K to corporate.” ( As such they serve the three options available for Face #1 – Public Schools, Higher Learning, and Training needs.

One customer is the University of Waterloo.

Face #2: Types of Offerings

ANGEL main offering is the infrastructure for a learning management system. Included in this they also will manage the infrastructure for their clients to provide them with exactly what they need, and offer hosting in case a company / school needs to ‘outsource it’. ANGEL also offers documentation and online help with their system.

ANGEL also provides courses online (self led or instructor led) or onsite to teach their clients how to use their product effectively (specifically designed for “instructors, instructional designers, course developers, system administrators, developers and others who use ANGEL”).

ANGEL’s offering seem to be most specifically geared towards Infrastructure, but they also offer various Services to ensure that their system works for each client (“tailorable user interface [and] flexible backend database integration).

Face #3: Who is the Buyer?

ANGEL fits most of the categories available on this face as well. I believe that the most prominent buyer would be Higher Education facilities, such as the University of Waterloo in Ontario (one of their clients). The learning management system was originally intended for use in higher education and so it seems to follow that this is their biggest stake. In this manner ANGEL’s buyer would be Learning Bought for Learner.

Learning Bought Centrally – Local Guide Offers to Learner. As ANGEL is also targeting the k-12 and corporate market, this would also be an important category.

ANGEL’s learning management system is not intended for individual buyers (Learner buys Personally), and although they sell their product globally (“profitable firm with global reach”) they are more targeted towards corporations and companies than countries, so while some countries might buy the product, I don’t believe that Learning Bought Nationally – Open to Regions – Local Guide Offers to Learner is an intended buyer.

Face #4: Global Markets

ANGEL serves Wired Anglophone Countries, European Countries with Language Skills, and European Countries Requiring Translation (i.e. their software is used in the Colegio de Estudios Superiores de Administracion in Columbia). I am unsure of exactly what the numbers are, or whether ANGEL serves any more of the categories in this face as their website doesn’t clearly provide this information. I have emailed the company and will post an update in a comment if/when I receive a reply.

Face #5: Development of the Market:

I would have to say ANGEL is: Market Supports Export Oriented Learning Technologies and Substitution of Imports. As ANGEL’s market is very large, it would be impossible to suggest that there are not competitors within it, such as WebCT by Blackboard, or Desire2learn. However ANGEL seems to be very confident with its ability to attract customers and to maintain good relations with those customers so that it will not be replaced with those competitors.

Face #6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

I believe the goal is Learning Technology Works with a Well-Developed Learning System. What I mean is that the goal of the company I believe would be to integrate it into existing learning systems, such as university campuses. This way the students would have online access to notes etc., and various courses would be completely online, but students would also have the option of taking classes in the physical classroom. (This integration was achieved at my university, Wilfrid Laurier, with WebCT fairly well).

The ANGEL software I don’t believe is imposed, I believe that professors at universities (and instructors at corporations, teachers at k-12 schools) have the ability to incorporate it into classes or use it on its own for distance education (such as at Waterloo University), but there may still be tensions between those that are used to a physical environment trying to teach in a completely online environment. ANGEL does however provide services, including ‘webinar’s’ to try to minimize this discomfort.

September 26, 2008   2 Comments

The article by Prahalad and Hart

I found the article by Prahalad and Hart to be very interesting. In my Social Studies 11 class we study world living standards and one of the videos that I often show my students is Gwynne Dyer’s, “The Bomb Under the World” . In it he actually looks at the efforts of Hindustan Lever to tap into the huge market made up of the poor, rural population. The whole idea of small profit margins combined with sheer volume of consumption made for an interesting argument. Dyer also made the point that in the developing world, people are becoming more aware of the consumer items the developed world has easy access to. With this increased awareness comes a greater desire to share in that consumer wealth. The video is a little out of date (1994) but much of what he says rings true. It is interesting to note that during the filming of this video terrorists bombed the Bombay stock exchange and Dyer made the comment that it wouldn’t be long before the focus of terrorism shifted to the developed world.



September 26, 2008   5 Comments

the e-Learning Guild

check out, the “

269 magazines for sharing strategies, techniques, best practices, and case-studies for the management, design, development, and delivery of e-Learning – dated back to March 5/2002 – read the abstract on the right hand column of the article, very insightful.

1438 e-Learning tools, technologies, products and services found in the e-Learning Guilds’ Buyers Guide and who are supporters of the Guild.

PLUS e-Learning books, the e-Learning Insider, blogs, research library, online forums, what people are saying, job board, educational discounts… tons of stuff.   Not cheap though.

99$ US gets basic membership plan or 695 US gets you the “Member” plus plan.  Premium Membership, you don’t even want to know… Just in case you have a couple extra bucks in your pocket… try  $1695.00

Would I purchase a “one only” subscription for my school, for a 100 bucks,

I think I would… maybe one years worth anyway.

check out, Author: Jason Shaeffer – Published Date: 06/02/2008 – sounds interesting.


Many readers are already using synchronous e-Learning tools to deliver instruction live and on line. However, there are many other uses for these tools in education and in corporate settings. This week’s author relates the success of his school with one particular such tool, and offers a number of best practices that you will be able to put to work in creating and delivering effective, competitive programs and curricula.


September 25, 2008   1 Comment

The Automatic Professor Machine

A humorous comment on educational technology complete with press release, interview transcript and related products.

As an aside, if I tag (categorize) my post as “uncategorized”, is it?

September 25, 2008   4 Comments

Assignments Unveiled?

I figure if I am confused, chances are good that others are too. (at least that’s what I tell my students)

I am having difficulty deciphering the assignments.

Assignment 1 is to be a written piece in an analytical format that will will consider a market environment or a specific venture.  My assumptions follow: (which may be totally off base)

  • this is to be a researched piece with appropriate citations (APA)
  • it will use narative form similar to the articles we have been reading
  • it can consider *any* market or venture

Assignment 2 is a group project about the assigned market presented in some interactive online way

Assignment 3 is the Pitch of the venture written about in Assignment 1

How close am I?

September 24, 2008   2 Comments

Alternative marketplace strategies


This post is to further explore the alternative marketplace offered by international development opportunities.


In the aftermath of C.K Prahlad’s article, I am living its actualization. In my view, the bottom of the pyramid is getting truly energized now. My context is India largely (as is Prahlad’s in this article) and I wish to share my understanding and support for his rhetoric with a few current examples.


My sense and observation in my country is witness to the fact of the bottom of the pyramid being empowered albeit by large Indian corporations (equivalent in size to an MNC, but more local in context). These corporations are building their products and services for the bottom of the pyramid and it is reaping them dividends. India lives in her villages still and corporations are recognizing the power of rural India.


CASE : e-choupal – The details of the groundbreaking intervention can be read here


ITC an Indian tobacco giant brought technology to the doorstep of the farmers and empowered them in their own playing field by setting up computer kiosks called e-choupals (meeting place). The computer kiosks were set up to monitor market prices so the farmer no longer bowed to extractions from “middlemen” (and age-old ill in the Indian village system) and sold their produce directly to the wholesale market therefore getting a better price. Technology at their doorstep enabled them to understand how to produce a better crop – about the whole science and engg of farming etc. What does ITC get in return? ITC has diversified into Packaged Foods (in addition to Tobacco) and they buy good quality produce directly from the farmers which is then packaged and sold in the open market. ITC leverages its existing channels to get to the end consumer.


This link holds some more details of e-choupal. I want to draw your attention to the line “Let’s put India first” – that came from a home corporation having the vision to revolutionise!


CASE: Cellular technology. Rural India has for decades languished with no telephone connectivity – the cell phones have now done the trick. Price and market share wars continue to rage, but a local corporation (Reliance) has beaten the price to an unbelievable low – it now becomes affordable for the bottom of the pyramid. What is more, in their current advertising campaign for its services, another Indian cellular corporation showcases podcasts (without mentioning jargon) on cell phones to educate the rural children (a quiet transformation!)


Case BPOs move to Rural India:’s%20Potential.htm


Case – Elections: last elections were lost by the ruling party despite the GDP growth and their election slogan “India Shining” because rural India felt shortchanged (and that is where the votes are) – they only had a small slice of the “India Shining” cake!


Case Microcredit – As we all know, Prof Mohd Yunus of Bangladesh went on to get the Nobel Prize!


Role of MNCs – Following rather than leading.


Role of Development agencies and NGOs – A lot of good work being done – tie-ups with local corporations (as is happening) will provide required direction and impact.


This has become longer than I had expected. Guess précis writing isn’t my forte!


Inviting thoughts, views, other experiences…



September 23, 2008   6 Comments

Google Docs in Plain English

This 2:50 minute video may be helpful to someone. As a new user, it clarified a few things for me.


September 23, 2008   4 Comments

Interesting comparison for those also in ETEC 531

For those of you also taking ETEC 531:

It is interesting to compare the article in ETEC 522 Module 3 Alternative Approaches ( with Stephen Petrina’s paper on Technology and Rights from ETEC 531 Module 3.

The perspectives regarding the role of corporations in third world countries are quite different.

September 23, 2008   6 Comments

Calendar software

This is somewhat related to what we are doing in the course… Does anyone in their district have an inclusive calendering solution that (here’s the wish list) connects to Active Directory, allows everyone to have a calendar, group calendars, has a feature to register for events on the calendar, publishes to the web, works with blackberries and iphone, and of course balances my budget and answers the phone? Well maybe not the last two.

Currently working with Corporate Time (oracle) for most of the admin, student support, and itinerants, but have a couple different solutions for publishing events, no online registration features etc.

If someone has a great solution please comment, or email me at, and I would love to look at it using some of the analysis techniques from the course. If you have an idea on costs as well that would be appreciated!



September 23, 2008   No Comments


eConcordia is an online learning company owned by the Concordia University Foundation.  Check link for more info:

Looking into eConcordia’s market niche is quite interesting for me as it has offered me my very first e-learning experience almost five years ago. 


eConcordia offers some of the same higher education credit courses that are offered by Concordia University in a traditional setting, while also offering non-credit courses, professional development courses.  Additionally, the creation of custom-designed training courses for corporations.


eConcordia offers services:  access and development of courses, development of advanced portals and web application, online tools, web hosting.


The buyer varies depending on who eConcordia is dealing with and what type of service is being offered.  When designing a training course for a specific corporation, or a mandatory credit course for a higher education institution, the learning is being bought for the learner.  However, when an optional course (non-credit, professional development or elective) is designed and offered by a higher education institution, the primary buyer is at the institutional level yet it is still essential that the service is eventually desired/bought by the learner.


eConcordia services are offered in both English and French.  Services are otherwise available world-wide.  A relevant example is eConcordia’s development of a certificate in Canadian Studies to be offered to Internatiaonal Students before they relocate to Canada.  More info: 

Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

In servicing Higher Education, eConcordia compliments the traditional established learning system. However, when dealing with corporations, there is a high potential that it is substituting for other forms of learning or even replacing the existing learning systems.

September 23, 2008   4 Comments

iTunes U

Face 1: Market Focus

Primarily a content distribution channel for the Higher Education Market, iTunes U also distributes content for the K-12 market.  While I have not been able to find an example of corporate or trades training, iTunes U provides distribution for a third content market – Cultural Institutions (CI) under the heading Beyond Campus.  This third market includes content providers like the New York Public Library, National Public Radio, and Edutopia.

Face 2: Types of Offerings

iTunes U provides both:

·        the infrastructure to deliver online content (audio or video podcasts)

·        An enormous publicity mechanism for this content (through the iTunes Store)

The online content can be made available to all iTunes users, or restricted to authorized (registered) students.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

University Administrators (Web Communications) work with iTunes U to manage content delivered through the site.  Unlike other free-content platforms, iTunes U limits participation to “…any qualified higher-education institution…”.  Presumably, K-12 and CI providers are added by exception.

An article in the Washington Post (“Is iTunes U for You?”) argues that universities see iTunes U as “…both a free promotional tool, and a public service.”

Face 4: Global Markets states:

iTunes U is available to any qualified higher-education institution in United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and United Kingdom.

Distributes for/Distributes to

Although not yet available as a content distributor for markets outside those listed countries listed above, iTunes U is available “Wired Anglophone Countries” through “Asian Countries with Quality Internet.”  Many providers note the significance of receiving email from downloaders in distant and exotic locals.

Face 5: Development of the Market

Although use of the service is currently restricted to a limited number of western markets, expansion into other ipod/iphone/iglass-purchasing markets seems inevitable.

For content providers, the iTunes U platform should work well in any market that can supply the required computer and internet infrastructure.  In some markets, political sensitivities will conflict with free access to content from unsanctioned providers.  Protectionist concerns regarding import of infrastructure should be addressed by the local production of content, and Apple’s cost-free service.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

This platform works within a broad range of well developed learning systems.  Content is largely provided to augment the formal (for-fee) instruction provided by institutions, and to provide access to content for self-directed learners.



September 22, 2008   2 Comments

Alternate Approaches – M Triangle

In reading the various analysis using the Cubs and also a couple alternative approaches it seems that there are Micro and Macro considerations.  I would suggest in the pitch tool that the Macro issues should be addressed first for the audience to become comfortable with the “big picture” and following that the details or some of the Micro issues can be addressed.  Am thinking that as the EVA, you likely have more input (with your money) over the Micro issues than the Macro issues thus Macro is the first hurdle.

To this effect, I created something truly innovative, its not a “Cube”, its a… wait for it… Triangle formed by the product, the market, and the management team with a focus on the competitive advantage offered by each.  The centre of the triangle is return on investment, the central focus of the EVA.  This one even has colour coding technology with the red shadow on the competitive advantages linking to the red ROI (maybe red was a poor colour choice – next them profit will be black). The M stands for Marc Macro.

I went with a triangle as its a strong self-reinforcing structure so hopefully it will be able to withstand your comments and critiques – bring it on.

September 22, 2008   4 Comments

Google Docs vs Zoho (David and Goliath?)

Which is Better Google Docs or Zoho?

I see in a previous post by Jagpal Uppal, there’s been a lot of discussion about Google and its Google Docs application.  One other other productivity tool, similar to Google Docs is Zoho.  Zoho is actually an entire suit of productivity tools that are very integrateble and, for the most part, free!!  A quick cube analysis would be as follows:

1. Market Focus: small to medium sized businesses, non-profit organizations, post-secondary students/instructors, and to a lesser extent secondary school students/teachers

2.  Types of Offerings:  offers a variety of publishing tools (wp, presentation, spreadsheets, notebook), communication tools (chat, email, meeting), database tools (creator, reports) and more.  Zoho is positioning itself as a one stop shopping productivity, collaboration center.

3. Who is the buyer? Most of the Zoho services are  offered for free.  Business services are for purchase.  Buyers of Zoho services would include small and medium sized businesses looking for an affordable platform to integrate their online communication and document creation and storage needs.

4.  Global Markets:  Zoho is offered in several different languages.  The company that owns Zoho is AdventNet.  AdventNet is a large international IT organization.  It offers services in 23 different languages, however, not all tools are in every language.

5.  Development of the Market:  Zoho is competing in highly connected markets where high speed online access needs to be readily available.

6.  Competition:  Zoho faces stiff competition from Google Docs. However, Zoho offers broader range of services.  Other competitors are mostly at the enterprise level that don’t offer services for free online and are aimed more at high end enterprise users.

Watching the Battle Now….To See the Future

The interesting thing about Zoho is its tenacity to take on Google.  Many people have questioned Zoho’s ability to attract attention to its services given the huge shadow that Google tends to cast over competitors.  However, Zoho seems to be surviving, even thriving with the claim it now has over 1 million registrations.  Even though Zoho has backing from its large parent company, Adventnet, this is still a very interesting showdown to watch as it may fortell the ability of other startups to compete with the internet giants.  Some see Zoho ultimately winning the battle…

Personally, I think Zoho is a much better service and its potential for education as a fully integrated suite of services have yet to be exploited.  Check it out…. Care to debate?……any comments?


September 22, 2008   2 Comments

Jing Cube

Jing Video Tour

Face 1: Market Focus

This tool can be used in almost every aspects of business development and education (online or face2face). In essence, Jing is for anyone who would benefit from recording and sharing screen captures.

Face 2: Types of Offerings

Jing is a screen capture tool developed by TechSmith (Camtasia & SnagIt), which allows for simultaneous sharing. Content can be shared via Flickr, FTP, or, another project initiated by TechSmith. This original version, which allows for a maximum recording time of 5 minutes, is intended to lead to a subsequent subscription to premium versions that TechSmith intends to introduce soon.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

Possible buyers for the premium versions of Jing could be anyone aiming to train / support others in any computer related technology, as well as anyone wanting to create learning objects exceeding 5 minutes in length. (Note that the tool is free at the moment for projects not exceeding 5 minutes in length.)

Face 4: Global Markets

According to TechSmith’s website, support is offered in English, French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese. However, because the nature of the tool is to capture voice as well as image, we can conclude that it could be used by just about anyone in the world, having access to a strong enough internet connection.

Face 5: Development of the Market

Given that this tool requires nothing more that a reliable internet connection and that it offers visual support for learning (use of iconography makes it easy to figure out how to use the tool, without having to read anything), it is likely that TechSmith will be able to develop markets across the globe.

Face 6 – Competition

As far as I can see, Jing is not competing with the other leading screen capture tools (Camtasia & SnagIt) being that they have been created by the same group (TechSmith) and that it can be viewed as a lite version of both in many ways. Another point to consider is that although software like Adobe Captivate might seem to be in direct copetition with Jing, Jing still stands at the forefront because of it’s user readiness and friendliness. It is a point-and-click type of tool that requires no training. As the user gets more familiar with the tool, and perhaps finds more uses for it, s/he can then upgrade to the premium versions. Making the basic tool available at no cost is a great marketing strategy to infiltrate both markets and cyberspace.

September 22, 2008   7 Comments

Found this little dilly, check out – it’s a web site that analyzes web sites. Great functions like, global Top 500 sites, country Top 100, the movers and shakers… contacts by department, by level. I appreciate the function that lists the top rated sites and then a brief explanation to what they do or what they are. For example, I read about Flickr in the 522 blogs and now realize it’s almost like Photobucket which is what I use. Now there’s another one out there, ImageShack. Go figure…

Alexa also gives you a page view count or site count. Go to your favourite site and then click on the number at the end of the words, for example, Photobucket has a traffic rank of ” 27 or 29″ depending on top 500 or 100. Click on the number and some interesting stats appear re: that site.

I spent way too much time blasting around in there. One other thing, is general discussion the most appropriate spot for this message?


September 21, 2008   2 Comments

Working in a global context: some other analysis frameworks

This posting is also linked from my response to Deepika’s analysis of a development project in India in which she participated. Her cube analysis described the project, its aims, its activities and results.

It did not go well, and this I believe may be common in development projects where many contextual factors are in play simultaneously making it extremely difficult to manage the environment in which a project design is both engineered and implemented.

There are guidelines for this kind of work that are published by international development agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The approach is often one of extensive pre-planning to ensure that development funding is used in an optimal (and not necessarily “ideal”) manner. Below are two versions of a common framework called the logical framework approach (LFA). One is from Australia’s development agency. The other from Norway.

AusGuideline – Australia’s LFA guidelines

Logical Framework Approach: handbook for objectives oriented planning – Norway’s LFA guidelines

No matter how well planned a project is, it plays out in a context that is often beyond your control as a project manager or participant. What is is often more useful than “the actual plan” is a way of analyzing what is happening in real time in order to make mid-course corrections

One theoretical framework for this kind of project monitoring and improvement is provided by activity theory (AT). AT provides a way of understanding data within the project so that you can take steps to change things in mid-stream. In a sense, this is what may have happened with Recombo over its multi-year set of pitches and business model adjustments to achieve a new and more optimal model as a fit with its technology. The organic sense of something not working ran up against the business reality, and a change of course was needed.

The AT approach is often used by experience designers and human computer interaction (HCI) specialists as a way to understand how people react to technologies in various situations. It is very much a contextual approach to analysis that can apply in a broad variety of projects. A nice metalink to the University of Colordo’s AT resource page can be found below.

Activity Theory

You may also have some other ideas about working in a global context, based on your experience or previous reading or research findings.

What I’m trying to emphasize here is that you do often have a hunch when something is not working or will not work. What is essential is to understand that hunch within a framework of practice that allows you to vett future experiences and act upon them.

We’ve offered the Cube, LFA, and AT as potential frameworks for analysis. Are there others you know about or use?

September 21, 2008   4 Comments

DynEd International

DynEd International ( is one of the more established providers of English Language teaching software. I heard of DynEd when I was in Japan as some folks I knew had used been using it. Having not explored it myself, I decided to focus my cube analysis on it. Established in 1987, it has a clearly established track record and while headquarted in California they have offices/representatives in a number of places around the world. English is one of the most taught subjects world-wide and their international focus reflects the size and diversity of the language learning market.

Face #1 – Market Analysis

DynEd has products aimed at all segments of the market including corporate (& government), K-12, university, and additionally broadcasts lessons on Voice of America (the lessons they broadcast are actually parts of two of their products which clearly helps build product awareness for them). The courses they offer are tailored for each of these market segments with some overlap.

Face #2 – Types of Offering

The current line-up of Dyned products are software courses that are downloaded (or in some markets CDs which was their original product) that include lessons, placement testing, student record management, and teachers guides.

Face #3 – Who is the Buyer

As they cater to a broad range of markets, this depends on the segment. In the case of schools, it is bought regionally or nationally (apparently the French Ministry of Education has endorsed one of their products), in universities it will be purchased by Departments/divisions for the learner, and in corporations/government it will typically be purchased centrally within the organization.

Face #4 – Global Markets

The English language is taught globally and as such and DynEd has representatives that will work with potential buyers around the world. That said, looking through their team, and various products, their key focus is on the pan-Asian market, Europe, and more recently Latin America. By all accounts they have significant market penetration across a range of markets in both the corporate and K-university segments. They tend to focus on Language learners in non-English speaking countries and as such have limited focus on markets such as Canada and the U.S. as evidenced by a lack of material focused on the needs of potential segments such as new immigrants.

Face #5 – Development of the market

DynEd is in a broad range of markets and as such there is some overlap, but for the most part, the Market supports export oriented learning technologies and substitution of imports.

Face #6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

DynEd’s products will not replace actual teachers in the classroom, but for the most part will supplement what instructors do.

~ Joe

September 21, 2008   10 Comments


This particular e-phenomenon, while not an e-learning product in the typical sense, has such a vast and widespread usage that its potential as an e-learning tool and not just a social net-working tool cannot be ignored. 

Since its inception by a young Harvard student in February of 2004, it has grown pratically exponentially to have currently 25 – 30 million active users worldwide!

Using the cube as a guide to determine its place, if any, in the market, FB satisfied many of the desirable components of a promising e-learning product.

Originally FB was created as a way to share personal information and to build a social network for students at Harvard University.  As the website states:  Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them”.  It extended at first to students from Harvard to other universities and in September 2006 extended beyond educational institutions to anyone age 13 and over worldwide. 

Slated as a social networking service with an educational focus, FB now allows personal applications and potentially users can build businesses, increase business contacts, solve business and/or social conflicts and can have many other business related uses. 

Access is free and (predominantly college-aged) users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school or region.  The money is in the advertising and advertisers that purchased banner ads targeted towards these young, educated adults are enjoying revenues in the millions. 

Globally, FB is available in several languages worldwide.  FB’s 500 employees in California are continually developing and expanding to continue to meet market needs.  However, FB is also blocked in several countries including Syria and Iran and also banned at some workplaces so as to not reduce levels of productivity.

FB generates revenue solely from advertising and the site has an projected valuation of $15 billion by 2015.  It competes with other similar social networking forums such as MySpace but apparently continues to be the leading social networking site especially in English speaking countries. 

Some negative aspects have been an issue – personal privacy may be compromised at times.  Some workplaces have been known to have hired students to research background info of prospective employees – several lawsuits are pending.

The power of this forum and similar others as an e-learning resource can’t be underestimated.  (I wish I had purchased stock….)

September 21, 2008   10 Comments

Focus on Drupal in Education

I’ve decided to focus on a particular expertise of mine, the Drupal CMS.  Although this isn’t itself exclusively intended for educational use, there is a collection of modules which have been created to allow for a Drupal Educational website.

Out of the box, this installation profile allows for student, teacher, and administrative users with different levels of permissions.  Teachers can create groups to organize content around their classes, and students and teachers both can post content into these groups.  Podcasting, video, blogs, and a content management system to boot.  The obvious advantage to this over Moodle is that one can build a website using the same tools that one is building course content.

The faces of the cube:

Market focus

This installation profile for Drupal has been designed with a secondary school in mind, but it could easily be used for any level of education.  It would probably not be appropriate as is for a corporate environment.

Types of offerings

This installation profile doesn’t provide any services for the end user, or any content.  Instead it provides the necessary infrastructure to build content.  Unfortunately the lack of services means that if there is a problem with the site, or the end user wants some customization, they are left to figure it out themselves or hire a professional.

Who is the buyer?

This type of site requires some understanding of the technology being used and could not reasonably be expected to be set up by the average teacher.  This means that the IT personel at a school would have to set it up, however since the profile is free, this makes the set up just following some instructions, and having server space to support it.

It is conceivable that this could be something set up by a district, but they would want to create individual sites for each school in that case.

Global Markets

One of the nice features of the Drupal CMS is that it is possible to translate the interface to any language.  Many languages on already have had most of the interface already translated, and the additional text associated with this installation profile can be translated through the default administration profile of Drupal.

This means that this installation profile could be used in any market where someone is willing to take the time to translate the interface.  Since this requires a web interface, this could be an issue in countries where the internet connectivity is poor.

Development of the market

Other than providing a support group where questions can be asked and answered, there has been no effort made to create a market for this product.  Obviously there are a lot of schools out there they may want to use this product.   Unfortunately they will have to hear about this system through word or mouth of because of a deliberate search for this type of product.

Competition with other learning platforms

There is a lot of competition in the elearning market, so obviously this installation profile of Drupal would have an uphill battle in order to gain an noticable market share.  There are a lot of expensive elearning platforms on the market, and a smaller number of open source platforms, Moodle being one of the leaders in the Open Source field.  What most of these platforms lack however is a proper CMS.  Moodle can be used as more than an E-learning platform, but requires significant customization to create a useable website.  Drupal has this feature built in, although the E-learning portion is weaker than Moodle.

Many schools have worked toward integrating Moodle into Drupal with a shared user base and shared information.  They have been somewhat successful, and this combo might be a better bet than using the Drupal for Education installation profile.

September 20, 2008   10 Comments

Pitching Your Idea – Some Internet Resources

This site has a brief explanation on how to pitch (elevator pitches, knowing your investors), and also has a video with information on selling your business:

This site is focussed on female entrapreneurs, and has links to various information (market fundamentals, creating a pitch, business plan guide – all of which also have accompanying videos:

I hope these are helpful!

September 20, 2008   2 Comments

Using the cube to evaluate Google within the e-learning domain

I have focused my analysis on Google and their software application “Google docs” and it’s contribution to e-learning.  Previously I have used Google docs during one of my MET courses, and with the launch of their web browser “Chrome” and new cell phone platform, Google has been a company that gets a lot of discussion within my Business class.

Background on Google Docs

Google Docs is a software application that allows users to create and edit a variety of documents (word processing, spreadsheet, and presentations) entirely online.  There is no need to download the software, and this allows users to access the files anywhere and at anytime.  Furthermore, users can invite others to collaborate on the document and different versions can be saved and changes are shown in real time.  In addition to creating documents, Google docs also recognizes traditional file formats such as MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  Google docs is available free of charge.

Face 1: Market Focus

Google docs can be used by a variety of consumers.  Public Schools (k-12) could benefit from using Google docs as opposed to MS Office, and save money (how much? Not sure….but the district could be close to saving thousands of dollars a year on licensing fees).

In terms of higher education, Google docs can again be used to save the colleges and universities from paying software licensing fees.  At the same time, the applications allow students to collaborate on projects in real time and can be a useful tool in online learning, especially for group work, where the group members maybe geographically separated.

Individual families may also switch to using Google docs versus MS Office and save money in licensing fees.  The only downside of Google docs is that it requires the users to have an active Internet connection.

Face 2: Types of Offerings

Google docs operate on a software infrastructure that recognizes other application platforms, and allows those files to be uploaded and worked upon over the Internet.    It allows users to save their work directly over the Internet, and access it on any computer with Internet access.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

As Google docs is a free application, I believe every individual and organization is a potential user or customer.

Face 4: Global Markets

Google is in many countries over the world, and with the launch of their new web browser, new cell phone and open-source platform, Google is clearly trying to establish themselves as a leader in software innovation and applications.  Google docs will allow people working in Global markets to work with clients and employees from around the world on the same document.  I believe the document has to be in English; however Google is also working towards translations as well.


Face 5: Development of the Market

Google docs have great positioning and potential in the market for online applications.  Already, they have the reputation of being a leader in search engines and with their mapping software they will benefit from a market that is expanding.  More and more potential users are using their mobile phones to connect to the Internet to get directions or check their email or simply surf.  Google already offers the searching and the Gmail, but now they can also capitalize from people using their applications to edit and upload documents online.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

The technology presented by Google docs can be used by traditional schools and replace MS Office applications.    Google docs are a tool that can be used by both traditional and e-learning systems of education.


– Jag

September 20, 2008   15 Comments

E-learning pilot venture cuboid

I will be analyzing an e-learning venture that was designed and launched as a pilot in 2003 for secondary school teachers in rural India.


Background: I work with teachers in rural areas of different parts of the world, with a development agency, helping/enabling them to integrate technology in the classroom through a series of workshops in which we create scenarios that model a teacher’s experience and walk them through issues, difficulties, obstacles in the process – it obviously is a totally hands-on workshop that relies on various experiences for a solution. There isn’t just one solution – with every teacher, every group, every workshop the solution changes – there are several.


The e-learning product: It was in 2002 that the development agency decided to replicate the workshop experience and reach out to a larger audience, in developing countries, in remote areas (where no man has been but technology has) faster at a lesser cost. A e-learning program was developed and launched, in 2003, as a pilot in some schools of Anglophone Africa and India (I will be analyzing the India experience). 18 teachers across 10 schools participated.


Face 1 – This was a training needs product – aimed at re-training teachers to work with technology in their classrooms.


Face 2 – It was a services product with elements of custom development absent from it – the customization was done from a desk far away and far removed from the real world scenario.


Face 3 – This was meant to be “Learning bought nationally” once the pilot was successful. The stakeholders – principals, teachers were not included in the decision making.


Face 4 – Asian country – with quality Internet but not so in far-flung remote areas. Also, limited access to the Internet lab (usually only a single computer was provided with connectivity at the time) within school premises.


Face 5 – Market does not support learning technologies – the pilot was happening on the basis of a grant – there was no plan in place to grow and sustain it. The good news about e-learning is that once the product is created there is no need to pay for creation for every round of training, unlike F2F where the facilitator must be paid a fee. But a plan must be in place to sustain connectivity and training at the school-end and some maintenance staff needs to be organised for this activity.


Face 6 – Learning technology works well with a well-developed learning system – in this case it was set alongside the instructor-led system and did not fare well.


Result: The pilot was unsuccessful. 2 teachers completed the e-learning course with much persuasion an dhand holding.

Analysis: The e-learning project failed because of the following reasons:

  1. Concept of training, re-training for teachers not well-established, much less the concept of e-learning.
  2. Market not ready for it – traditionally F2F training works best particularly in the education system in rural schools.
  3. Access to computers within the school premises difficult – computer labs are governed by lab assistants who may not be willing to let teachers have access as and when the teacher needs it – clash of free time available and access to computer labs.
  4. Design of content not in sync with local context – eg case study asks participants to envision a scene when their classroom would be equipped with 4 computers…for a teacher struggling to accommodate 40 kids in a lab of 15 computers with no redemption in sight, the former case appears to be too far fetched to devote time to.
  5. Overall, geographical fragmentation of course enrolments did not work – its integrative value for teaching and learning was not immediately visible to school administrators – having one or two teachers, from a school, attend the pilot was a lost cause. In hindsight, maybe the pilot should have been designed for a school – all 18-20 teachers should have been from the same school so that they could have been a support group in an uncharted territory.
  6. Even if the pilot has been a success there wasn’t a plan in place to install the system across 50 schools and implement lessons of the pilot.

 It is indeed ironical that a market that needs e-learning most does not take to it when given a chance. In my view, a bottom (as opposed to a top-down) approach in designing, installing and maintaining the system would go a long way in ensuring its success.


Finally, this was a high risk venture (hence the pilot) that had all three risk related novelties attached to it – novelty to the market, novelty in production, novelty in management (De Coster, R & Butler, C. 2005).

September 20, 2008   6 Comments

Distributing Learning of BC

Correspondence schools in BC were established around 1918. In 1995, the School Act changed the term “correspondence education” to “distance education”. The Revised Statutes of the School Act 1996 recognized a distributed learning school operated by a board to be a “school”. Between 1998 and 2001, the Ministry sponsored a pilot project, Distributed Electronic Learning – computer and internet technology assisted education involving 18 school boards and 2200 students. Bill 33 of September 1, 2006 enabled all school districts offering distributed learning to receive the same funding as any other students in the province.

Currently, the Ministry uses multiple enrolment date collections to fund boards or distributed learning authorities, and every Grade 10, 11 and 12 student in British Columbia is allowed to take any distributed learning courses no matter where he/she is registered. Using the Active Policy, the Ministry provides funding for each educational program of Grade 10 to 12 students who receive instruction through distributed learning. The effect of Bill 33 is the explosive interest in the operation of distributed learning by school boards. Distributed learning is no longer simply a method of instruction that relies on indirect communication between students and teachers using technology. It now offers a dynamic and engaging learning environment which strives to be of high quality. The goals of distributed learning include equitable access to education and the elimination of all kinds of divides.

We have witnessed the power economy has over education. The availability of the Ministry’s funding to students who are multiply registered with distributed learning drove many school boards to start offering distributed learning. Educators who used to be strong advocates of face-to-face education seem to have been converted to technology assisted distributed learning.

With Campus 20/20 in mind, I can see great potential in educational ventures in this field. An obvious trend is that Grades 10-12 will be expanded to K-12, and then to K-postsecondary. As with the vision of Campus 20/20, if a Multilanguage/multicultural platform is supported, distributed learning in BC can absolutely become a global enterprise. Considering the multi-racial trends of BC population growth, it is not an unrealistic dream and plan. There certainly is an opportunity for all universities of British Columbia to be a part of this. In light of UBC already being a community of students from over 130 countries, this venture is highly attractive and unwise to ignore.

Face 1: Market Focus
Public schools/ postsecondary schools

Face 2: Types of Offerings
Distributed learning

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?
Learning bought by province, regions, and nations

Face 4: Global Markets

Face 5: Development of the Market
Start with BC which has a strong network of education, develop into nations which already have established networks, and subsidize part of the revenues of underdeveloped countries and regions, targeting the achievement of the equalization of education throughout the world.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning
The distributed learning of BC has already going towards the direction of encompassing and merging with the face-to-face education. This approach is critical.


September 19, 2008   8 Comments


I found this Education Channel Partners report which had a very nice section at the end about how to evaluate products. It has a very clear focus on sales and marketing, which my experience is the most difficult part to get right. So rather than the cube, I will use this multifaceted approach.

The product I have looked at is also unique in that it was created as part of a government contract. I chose it because it is one of the best music education sites I have ever encountered. You can look at it here Sound Junction

Education Market Emphasis The Sound Junction site is geared toward K-12 education as well as homeschoolers and could be appealing to some post secondary institutions

Target Education Contacts In the end user category, target contacts in this case would be Technology Coordinators, Curriculum Coordinators, teachers, students, and parents. In the development category, the site was written in conjunction with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in the UK.

Sales & Marketing Methodologies & Activities From browsing the site and looking at the user base, I would say that they were likely to have used sponsorships, strategic partners, and also email/blogs as a marketing methodology.

Staffing The site appears to have moderators which implies staff. In the design phase they employed a Technical development company, Atticmedia Ltd. It was commissioned by Culture Online, part of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, of the UK Government.

Geographic Field Sales Coverage Area This product seems to be aimed mostly at the UK, but is also appealing to any English speaking country which is connected to the Internet.

Product & Service Offerings Sound Junction offers Online curriculum, professional development, educational video’s, and games. In addition they also offer alternate ways to browse their site, with their journey mode. They have lessons online and content that was created by commissioned artists.

Purchasing Options It’s free! (and there is nothing for a fee on the site)

September 19, 2008   1 Comment

PROSPERO Learning Solutions


When I started my current job as a workplace instructor with De Beers Canada, I was asked to take on the job of setting up the company’s training records using Prospero’s Learningworks Suite™. I was left to figure out how to use the program on my own, as I didn’t receive any formal training on the software. Having a background in IT was a plus, but when things got tough, I did take advantage of Prospero’s technical support department. 


Established in 1998, Prospero developed its own unique proprietary methodology for designing, developing and delivering custom learning solutions. They claim that their technique is adaptable to all content, cultures and industries around the globe. They also claim to be able to create solutions capable of accommodating multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-generational learners. 

Courtesy of PROSPERO Learning Solutions

Courtesy of PROSPERO Learning Solutions

 Market Focus

Their award winning products and services are aimed primarily at mid to large size national and multinational companies from all across Canada. Their products are designed to help track and manage a variety of learning initiatives.

Prospero has developed a variety of products and services to meet market demands. They offer several services: placement, learning strategy, Instructor-led training, custom e-learning, blended learning and evaluating and testing services. They also offer two learning management products: Learningworks LMS and Learningworks Lite. A third product, Quizworks is also available.  

 Types Of Offerings

Prospero claims to provide cost effective custom build learning solutions. They accomplish this by implementing the best educational technologies into your custom built e-learning courseware package before tailoring it into your learning management system. You tell them what you need and they will help you to build it! 

 Who Is The Buyer

Prospero is available to any business or organization requiring a custom-tailored solution. All of this from a company which claims to have mastered the art of mapping learning outcomes directly to business goals. Prospero offers quality, service and results! 

 Global Markets

Based on their list of clientele, Prospero certainly appears to have the connections to go global. I didn’t read anything specific to indicate that they were doing so. Their website, however, is viewable in three languages (English, French and Spanish) which seems to suggest that they may be doing business in the United States.  

 Development Of The Market

Prospero has taken an interesting approach to building their customer base. They offer potential clients a partnering program. Their aimed is to establish long-term mutually beneficial partnerships. To this end, they have designed three ways to partner: Gap Partner, Co-Sourcing Partner and Full Service Partner. Each one takes a slightly different approach to partnering which makes it easier for prospective clients to align themselves with a service that best fits their needs. 

 Learning Technology Competing With Other Forms Of Learning

Prospero has been in the business for ten years and they appear to be well established in the learning management market. There well may be many other companies offering similar products and services but not many can match their client base or their expertise.

The key to Prospero’s survival will lie in their ability to incorporate the latest learning technologies into their existing programs. They will also have to come up with new and more innovative product lines and services if they hope to remain competitive.

September 19, 2008   2 Comments

Delmar Cengage Learning

Delmar Cengage Learning

Delmar Cengage Learning is a place where if you wish to improve your knowledge in electronics it’s the place to go. You will find products including books and software, developed in conjunction with leading electronics technology educators and trainers, for DC/AC circuits, Circuit Fundamentals, Circuit Analysis, Electronic Devices, Electronic Communications and more.

Market Focus

The Delmar site is targeted more specifically towards and educator for teaching and personal learning purposes but with that said it offers advanced learning for those students looking at furthering their education.


There is a 1-800 number that you can call to find our more of what they will offer to you if you chose to sign up with them. It does not actually state on the site what that offer would be.

The Buyer

Like mentioned above the buyer would most likely be an educator. It does not offer a price list on the site.

Global Markets

From reviewing the site I would say that this site and these products are targeted more towards those who speak English. It does not look like the products are written for any other countries.

Development of the Market

The site at the moment does not show in any way any form of further development.

Competing with Other Forms of Learning

With the budget cuts coming into districts it is getting harder and harder to purchase many items at once. It is now becoming more reasonable to purchase a software which can be loaded to many computers and allow for students to work almost at their own pace. With the tutorials those students who are ahead of the rest can move forward and not become restless.

One problem with this though is that it does not allow for students to take things home to complete so everything must always be done in class.

September 19, 2008   1 Comment

Speaking of free…

Speaking of free…

Here’s a new venture that hosts up to 1TB of media “free.”


Maybe someone would like to subject it to a cube analysis, or even a combined cube-pitch analysis if you haven’t posted one as yet.


September 19, 2008   1 Comment

Mitchell1 – OnDemand5

Mitchell 1 “the First Choice of Automotive Professionals” has an online learning tool, “OnDemand5” that is a completely self-sustained website dedicated to automotive repair professionals. The images, tutorials and step by step instructions give mechanics, instructors and auto repair enthusiasts, the ability to fix just about anything on wheels.

Market Focus

This is where Mitchell 1 does well as a market leader of their product. Their approach to vehicle repair gives “OnDemand5” a unique balance between technical jargon and plain English understood by a multitude of readers and users. I’ve seen this software package used at the high school level, Technical training schools with apprentices and in the automotive/transportation industry. Many say they couldn’t live without it. All three sectors use Mitchell1 extensively. Albeit, the majority user is the adult learner.


OnDemand5 is a dynamic, interactive service with a “one day turn-around” for Q’s and A’s and 1 888 number from 5:30 am to 4:30, based out of San Diego. Although predominantly a service oriented website, their content is the useful information you access from a monitor which is located inches away from the repair task. They have built course ware and content that they host themselves. Backup of client data happens immediately and a snippet of code sends the customer a reminder of upcoming service to their vehicles. It seems that the technical writers are employees of Mitchell1, therefore, the infrastructure, CMS and all material is housed within the Mitchell Repair Information Company. (MRIC) Interestingly, technical repair manuals are still available for sale.

The Buyer

This e-Learning service, as mentioned earlier, can be used on several platforms: high schools, Technical schools and more specifically, Repair Shops including light duty, heavy duty, diesel and tractor-trailer. In the category of repair, Mitchell 1 dominates with an array of products available to the users, each having it’s own purpose. They are; On – (OnDemand5 Repair, OnDemand5 Estimator, OnDemand5 for Transmissions, OnDemand5 Medium Truck and lastly, Vintage Service and Repair) and the mother company supporting OnDeand5 is Mitchell1 supports,,, MitchellSupport, ASEtestpreparation, MitchellRep, Tractor-Trailer, and lastly, OnDemand5direct. As you can see… tons of information and support available to the buyer of this service. However, with service comes a price. A site license for a single user runs 159.00 per month with a year long commitment to the license agreement. That’s a whopping 1908.00 dollars, taxes not included. Site bundles are also available. At the high school level, I suspect point of purchase would be through a district wide initiative or on the other side of the scale, as a single user to whoever finds this product useful.

Global Markets

From my research at the site, it seems that Mitchell1 products are developed for the North American market, or any English speaking country. Product line supports repair service for Audi all the way to Volvo and expressed as “Import and/or Domestic” With the huge inventory of repair information, Mitchell 1 by far exceeds competitors such as All Data, Jonko or AutoRepair4U, to name a few.

Development of the Market

Mitchell1 is a high end, supported learning technology that is specific to Vehicle repair. With the millions of vehicles on this planet, Mitchell products is the viable choice for the English speaking market. In other words, they do very well close to home. The range and scope of this business is therefore a strong resource right next door. So far, English is the written language at the site and the indigenous user would be the people who have a vested interest in automotive repair. I have not read where they plan to re-create content material for use in other languages, in other countries.

Face 6 – Competing with Other Forms of Learning

A – Computers in any auto shop years ago was unheard of. Because of the cost of Technology, the climate of most repair shops was not conducive to having a “pristine computer” sitting idle that no one wanted to get it dirty. Now, it’s the complete opposite. Key boards are blackened with dirty fingers and monitors need to be wiped constantly from the probing fingers of inquisitive mechanics. Why worry about a filthy key board when you can by a new Logitech for seven dollars and sixty two cents and just through the old one into the land fill… 🙂 (just kidding!)

B – Many people who are using Mitchell1 have said good-bye to text material. Walk into any garage and ask where the shop manuals are? If the guy is close to retirement he may awkwardly turn around, with his fag hanging from his mouth and hobble to the darkest part of the shop where you then choose to say… “aw… it’s OK, I’ll come back later.” These days, most shops are bright and “cleaner” and the computer is a welcome site. Billions of bits of information is just a key stroke away.

C – The learning technology I speak of is not an imposition to the current system, but rather an addition to. OnDeMand5 is an ideal way of learning via the Internet, in a capacity that is appropriate, quick and up-to-date for the subscriber. My pitch!

sorry, mine are always so long…


September 19, 2008   2 Comments

An alternative to The Cube

As David Vogt noted earlier in Module 3, “There is nothing special about the CUBE. It’s merely one way of organizing an analysis of a learning technology venture. We’ve offered other approaches and would appreciate further ones coming from you and your research.”

To that end, we’ve posted an article from Technovation that outlines another way of assessing technology business ventures coming out of university research environments. We’re wondering whether you have found others during your research that might be useful to note for the benefit of the class.

If so, please post some links in comments to this post

September 19, 2008   4 Comments


Hoping to catch a ride on the social media train, Test Toob is a free web-based service that enables science (users performing science experiments) videos to be uploaded, rated, categorized and viewed. Test Toob, A Community for Everyday Scientists was founded by Lopa Mehrotra in hopes of making science education more interesting to children. It was incorporated in October. The company suggests that it is the first social networking community focused on science and learning.

TestToob received a $25 000 award from the Kentucky Enterprise Fund. In the future they plan to add more social-network features such as discussion forums, information sharing, and photo posting.

TestToob has a goal of attracting 10 000 users by the end of the first year and penetrating the global market and reaching +1 000 000 users by 2010.

Face #1 – Market Analysis
TestToob is targeted at a youth market; school-age children who are performing science experiments or are looking for videos showing others doing science experiments.
While geared to youth, TestToob is also attracting adults in the way of parents and teachers. The information found on the site infers that parental consent is mandatory for those under 13 years of age. Since it has strong educational value, teachers will also be tempted to sign up for an account.

Face #2 – Types of Offering
TestToob is primarily a video sharing site with social network applications coming in the future. The type of offering is predominantly Service but there is addition of valuable content for users.

Face #3 – Who is the Buyer
Targeted at a youth market, TestToob is a free service provided to students, their parents and teachers. Sign-up is free for students, parents and teachers (individuals sign-up, at this point there is no registration at the class, school or division level) and there is no suggestion of premium service for cost or any type of fee for use. TestToob has investors and it has received monetary award to aid in the start-up, but one would assume that a source of revenue is planned. There is no evidence of advertisement; speculation only suggests that it is the user database that provides income.

Face #4 – Global Markets
On first glance, one would assume that TestToob would only be used in wired, Anglophone countries. But one of the videos that I happened to view was of Japanese origin with Japanese subtitles. Many science demonstrations are universal and it is the video that is important, not the audio.
I can see that TestToob could reach a global audience of any quality internet-connected location.

Face #5 – Development of the market
At this point, TestToob is in beta. Even on a quick tour of the site one will find glitches and improvements that could be made.
As it develops, TestToob will need to model itself after more successful competitors like TeacherTube and the giant, YouTube. Supplied code for embedding, a better search structure, higher quality video played in a larger format, ability to comment on videos and a more user-friendly interface need to be developed.
Since TestToob manages user-generated content, it can be used to support a variety of markets. Perhaps in its evolution, TestToob will offer private accounts that are secure and geared toward consumer chosen parameters or group accounts tailored to user preferences.

Face #6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning
TestToob can be used by interested students outside of any formal learning environment. It can be used as assigned homework, supplements to face-to-face learning or as a method of sharing in an e-learning environment.
Teachers may insist that students post videos on TestToob instead of the immensely popular YouTube as there would be a greater emphasis on proper safety measures required before the video would be accepted on the site. The social networking environment designed for use by middle and high school students may be more attractive to student use than educational competitor, TeacherTube.

My concern for TestTube is that with the advancements in Learning and Content Management Systems, students will soon have the ability to post video into the LMS environment with ease. When this happens, there will be no competitive edge left in which TestToob can define its market.

September 19, 2008   5 Comments


PBwiki, launched in 2005, headquartered in San Mateo, CA, provides wiki hosting with over 500,000 wikis hosted (more pages than the English language version of Wikipedia).  PBwiki also provides knowledge management, project management, collaboration and other business workflow services.  Basic functionality for public users is free, additional features are available according to a fee schedule.  Organizations pay on a per user basis.

Face 1: Market Focus

This wiki hosting, file sharing, and collaborative page editing service offered to government, business, academic, and personal users.  Testimonials reflect use by US corporations(RMC Vanguard Mortgage), international businesses (Deloitte, Wal-Mart), Universities (DePaul), educators in the K1-12 system, and the general public users. 

The company represents that 1/3 of the Fortunate 500 are customers and also claims the FDA and Facebook as notable customers.  This breadth of market focus also affects the face of the buyer.

Face 2: Types of Offerings

The offering is consists of both infrastructure and service.  The infrastructure consists of the application software, data-housing server, and predefined templates.  The service consists of training, 24 hour a day product support, and customization.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

The buyer varies with the level of utilization.  Public users can be buyers and pay on the basis of features.  Academic and business users can buy directly and pay on the basis of the number of users.  Whether they buy is a user, in an IT function, or management function would be influenced by the use of the wiki and the number of users.

PBwiki also differentiates between buyers in terms of target market and niches in the target market.  The academic market is defined in classroom, library, campus, and district/university niches.  The business market is defined in project management, intranet, extranet, public communication, and enterprise niches.  The public market is not segmented.

Face 4: Global Markets

The site is published in English and available on the internet.  Hence the global market consists of wired Anglophone countries and markets with quality internet service and English language skills.

Face 5: Development of the Market

The accessibility suggests that the market supports export and as there are competing product offerings there is substitution.  Substitution of imports may occur for reasons of US dollar pricing and language.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

This product works well with well developed (classroom) learning systems.  As there are competing product offerings (moodle) that are implemented in organizations (Univerisites), the offering may also compete with imposed learning technology.  Though there is no evidence of this on the site, the offering may also substitute for forms of learning through the digital distribution of multimedia content and collaborative functionality.


Disclosure: I have used PBwiki to complement face-to-face teaching and in defiance of IT imposed Moodle.  The functionality that I used was within the free service provided. 

September 19, 2008   2 Comments

First attempt: Ingenia and Recombo 2004

As an inexperienced EVA I decided to focus on both Recombo 2004 and Ingenia pitches.  Their format and the visual aid used by the speakers made it a lot easier for me to follow the pitch.  I’m assuming this format also makes it easier for any potential investor to get the most out of a 12 minute pitch.

Recombo 2004: MacPhee seems very confident about his company’s potential and shares his vision for the long-term.  He identifies key players in the team he’s assembled and highlights they’re relevant experience.  For now, I am impressed with the business model that was presented.  The speaker describes the company’s specific goals and the strategies to reach these goals. He uses clear graphics and relevant examples to get his point across.  MacPhee mentions some of his clients and key partners but also takes the time to mention the competition he is facing.  Furthermore he seems to give a realistic view of the company’s path to success by identifying the challenges that need to be dealt by the company in order to reach the described goals. MacPhee mentions the positive feedback he’s received from publishers/clients and shares his desires for the long-term.
Ingenia: Materi gives an overview of her presentation before she starts her pitch per say.  She describes her company’s activities in detail.  Shares the company’s success to date and briefly mentions the type of team members she is working with.  Materi emphasizes her own personal experience in the field.  She shares the type of clients she works with.  Materi clearly identifies some of the challenges faced by the company and discusses the approaches the firm will take to tackle these. She specifies the market the firm wishes to tap into and describes the logic behind choosing that market.  Furthermore she highlights her personal experience with this market.  She shares Ingenia’s main goal.  Very clearly describes the type of investment needed and the percentage of return that is expected.  Materi seems a lot less confident when discussing the potential challenges.  Some of the language used, such as “we think we can” and “ this will be tough”, is likely worrisome for a potential investor.  Overall, I feel more substantial facts about the firm could have been shared within the allotted time.

If I had the required funds and had to make a decision between both firms, I do believe I would go forward by granting Recombo another chance to further discuss investment potential.  I believe it will be interesting, however, to do this same comparison once I have more experience as an EVA.  The outcome could very well be the opposite.

September 19, 2008   3 Comments

Answers to questions not asked

While reading through the module 2 & 3 materials made some notes in CMap format.  Idea is to develop them over the course of the modules and reference them when designing and evaluating pitches.  Future versions will be made available at a nominal fee – actually will just post them when and if it happens (suppose will need to add version numbers).

Curious about reaction to the blog interface format.  Candidly, I find it more frustrating to use than Vista and find it affects my interest in the course – suppose that qualifies as exploratory learning.  The use of applications (i.e. a news reader) to add basic functionality to the interface attest to user unfriendliness (and still does not resolve direct access to posts or comments, direct/private communication with users)….

It may also be that patience is worn a little thin through repeated interaction with Shaw this week.  At least telephone and internet service seem stable again (the irony of telephone and online customer support when your the reason for customer support is no telephone and no internet connection).  Will peruse the 118 posts and 197 comments currently on the blog tomorrow and resume comment.  Thank you for your patience

September 19, 2008   16 Comments


Elluminate ( promotes itself as an elearning or web conferencing solution for real-time online learning. The company is headquartered both in Calgary and Fort Lauderdale. The website mentions that Elluminate is “the winner of several prestigious awards, the company is also one of Deloitte’s 50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies and is positioned in the Visionaries Quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing, 2007.”

Through LearnNowBC (, BC teachers have free access to Elluminate online meeting rooms and training. I have only had one brief training session, so I’m not really familiar with Elluminate, but here goes!

Face 1: Market Focus
According to its website, Elluminate seems to be targeting all three areas of the market: k-12, higher education, and training needs.

Face 2: Types of Offerings
Elluminate offers infrastructure in the form of a virtual classroom/meeting place. Elluminate Professional Services targets services: Elluminate training; custom implementation through content conversion, etc; integration support (integrating with learning management systems, for example); event hosting; technical support.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?
The learning is bought for the learner, rather than the learner buying it for him/herself. In most cases, it seems that the learning is bought centrally (the corporation or, in BC’s case, the provincial authority). For BC teachers, training is available through Elluminate, but it is up to the local school to implement local changes in order to create an optimal learning experience for the students.

Face 4: Global Markets
The Elluminate website states that Elluminate is used in 185 different countries. It appears that Elluminate could be used with all of the markets except for “Other Regions with Restricted or Poor Quality Internet Service.” Although Elluminate claims to work with speeds as low as 28.8 kbps, it certainly won’t work if there is no connectivity. Markets with different languages could use the virtual meeting rooms. I am not sure about the ability of Elluminate to work with other alphabet sets (I can’t imagine that the text area would support this), but there would still be some value in the application sharing and the virtual meeting rooms.

Face 5: Development of the Market
Elluminate would work well on the right-hand side of this face – in markets that import or export of content and infrastructure. Elluminate might also work in a market that only supports custom work or indigenous suppliers. Because Elluminate can provide just the virtual meeting place, the content can be developed locally.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning
This technology seems to fit best where there is already a well-developed learning system. It could also provide a substitute for other forms of learning by displacing face-to-face learning.

September 18, 2008   6 Comments

I came across and it looks very useful and engaging for students.  It also has a simple platform that opens access to non-computer types.  The cost is lower than a f2f private tutor which breaks down the economic barriers to additional help that many students face.  I don’t know any students who have used this service yet, so don’t take my review as a pitch! 


Face 1 – Market Focus is “homework help and online tutoring” for gr. 4 – 12 students that is available 24/7.


Face 2 – Types of Offerings is both a content and infrastructure based e-business that assists students with homework, studying, and general concept questions.  Once learner/parents purchase minutes they have access to a real-time private tutor.  Instant messaging is used to communicate between student & tutor.  Both the tutor and student utilize a white board to hash out problems.


There are also a number of free articles for students/parents/educators/librarians to access.


Face 3 – The Buyer

The “learning is bought for the learner” here!  The website is marketed to both the parent and the learner.  The company markets to the parents by providing a solution to their child’s homework needs.  The company also elicits the learners “buy-in” by using appealing aesthetics and the word “you”.


Face 4 – Global Markets

Currently, the site has both Canadian and American tutors which limit the services to North America.  When a student logs on they are prompted to list the specific subject & grade they are looking for as to get the appropriate tutor.


Face 5 – Development of Market

The ‘market supports export oriented learning technologies and the substitution of imports’ for online tutoring.  This business can be exported to anywhere in Canada and the US (and if they can acquire tutors in other countries if they wish to expand).  There are also substitutions at a local level as learners can get tutoring f2f and not go online.


Face 6 – Competing with Other Forms of Learning

Tutor. Com falls into two categories here as it both supports traditional learning in the classroom and is a substitute for f2f tutoring.




September 18, 2008   6 Comments

Alan’s views on Recombo and Ingenia

Both presentations were convincing and easy to watch.  In Recombo the company has changed with the need/? and this is good.  I am a little uneasy about the  large turn around.  Was this always in the design, or just what exactly caused the large shift.  It is not clear in the presentation.  The first presentation was very “silicone valley” , relaxed, open shirt, whereas the second was more “business” with shirt and tie, etc.  This may be healthy growth, but is there a hint of non specific direction, or indecision?  All in all a  case to support this opportunity could be made, but another presentation could place this one out of contention.

Ingenia looks good on the outside, but I am hesitant about their expertise.  I would like to know more about the “guru” status of the presenter and why is it that with all the cultural concerns, are they working with Vietnam, without a solid base at home?  There may be very good reasons for all these concerns, but it is not clear in the prersentation.  Again I have some concerns and another project may be more rewarding.

September 18, 2008   1 Comment

Web 2.0 Tools: Rolling the Dice With the Cube

Face #3 – Who is the buyer?……When its free!!

For a change of pace, I thought I might focus on one aspect of the cube and raise some issues around the current economic meltdown and implications for  web 2.0 learning technologies.  In particular, I thought I’d focus on face #3 “Who is the buyer?”.  For many of the web 2.0 tools the buyer isn’t anyone.  There are no “buyers” only users. The services are offered free.  There are countless examples of such tools offering  presentation, video, slideshow, music, etc…. The thinking behind many of these ventures is to create a vast user base and then monetize this user base by offering paid premium services or by leveraging the potential of this user base to obtain a buy out by a larger company.  This model has been a driving force behind much of the innovation and creativity we’ve seen over the last few years.  However, in some ways this parallels the attitudes in the greater economy that have led to the current economic meltdown.  Web startups are borrowing time and money today with little or no ongoing revenue security going forward.

The End of Web 2.0 as We Know It?

With no real revenue model these ventures are hollow and highly exposed to external economic variables.  When the economy dips, the likelihood of converting non paying users nurtured on “free”  to premium paying users falls and the likelihood of obtaining a buyout by a larger, but now more cautious company also falls.  The short term “free” model now  becomes a long term charity service.  If I’m the owner of a web 2.0 startup operating on this model, do I stick around and support this venture and devote my time to non-paying users?  What happens when the first prominent web 2.0 tool pulls the plug and leaves users standing at the login page.  Will we loose faith in the reliability of small web startups to maintain our data and thus do we eliminate the “free” business model as a viable web model?

The Golden Age Of Web 2.0

Perhaps we are not only seeing the end of an economic boom, but the end of the web 2.0 boom of online tools where the business model of “free” will be seen as a golden era of creativity and innovation.

Any comments?

September 17, 2008   8 Comments

Moodle and the cube

I chose to look at moodle for my analysis since I work with it often.

Face #1 Market Focus

Moodle’s market focus is to provide people that need learning management software in all three of K-12, Higher Ed, and Training, with a free, open source solution. I’ve seen it utilized in the MET, university of Waterloo counseling, K-12, and as a training LMS/CMS in various situations where a group needed something but couldn’t afford a paid solution such as blackboard or d2l.

Face #2  Types of Offerings

Moodle as an organization offers the software as well as community driven, created, and monitored support. Moodle does license other for profit groups for paid training, hosting, and certification. ( Moodle does organized conferences (moodlemoots) but users by and far create and share content freely through groups such as (BC Curriculum)

Face #3 Who is the Buyer

The purchasing buyer of a moodle national/regional license provider is for profit educational group. The rest of us happily purchase moodle software for free. Mostly the people involved are teachers, technologists, school authorities that are looking for a free solution to an LMS/CMS

Face #4 Global Markets

Moodle has multi language support that has been created through social networks. I’ve added the french component for some of my immersion teachers that come to my district with sometime low english technology vocabular. I’m thinking about adding the german and russian for some of our ESL students as well. This social contribution has made moodle accessible across the globe. Moodle runs on the free Apache server as well so the software infrastructure is free as well.

Face #5 Development of Market

Looking at the four categories of the development face I would say that moodle plays nicely in all the markets saving the one that does not have the physical infrastructure. I would enjoy playing with one of the xo laptops from the OLPC and see if it could host an apache server (which I believe it will) to load a moodle instance on it and serve to other xo’s in the wireless range.

Face #6 Competing with other forms of Learning

Moodle in my school district has been used to replace some f2f reporting for graduation requirements. While there is a teacher available there is no scheduled brick and mortar classroom time for this required four credit course. Moodle is also competing with commercial offerings such as blackboard/webct, and desire 2 learn (d2l). Moodle has facilitated the creation and sale of learning objects to other school districts. It enables us to compete in the DL market for students in a newly legislated, increasingly competitive market for distributed learners.

Moodle has been used in hybrid learning environments where there is a f2f and computer component. It can also be used in f2f and distributed or purely distributed environments. It plays well with others.

September 17, 2008   3 Comments

“Articulate” superimposed on “the cube!”

I’ve chosen Articulate as my e-learning product. This software suite is intended for users to deliver “rapid e-learning to any community of choice” and comprises a set of authoring tools, a flash-based presentation tool imported from Powerpoint, (WOW!) a quiz making tool to assess and conduct surveys, a means to create interactivity and an LMS.

 The essence of this product is to hand over the reins of development and delivery to the user. In the words of one of their sales support rep, “we provide the hammer and nails, you make the house!”

 1. Market Focus:

Articulate is found in all three vertical markets, K- 12; Higher Ed, Corporate and Government. Given that their focus is to provide the tools all markets are of interest to them. A key element of their success lies in the infrastructure in place to support the tools for each market.

 For example: there is a highly successful blog, created by Tom Kuhlmann who has done a fabulous job of pushing creative instructional design tips out to the marketplace. He has over 10,000 subscribers making it the most read blog in the e-learning industry.


 2. Types of Offerings:

As Articulate is out of the content/customized content game entirely; they only provide the tools, support, and LMS infrastructure to the user.

 3. Who is the Buyer:

The majority of buyers are found in the corporate setting, with academic institutions and government representing the other key client base. Purchasing is largely made centrally by larger corporate headquarters, and with IT departments at University and government levels. Larger non-profit societies such as the Canadian Cancer Society and The UN are also clients of Articulate.

 4. Global Markets

The market focus for Articulate is represented broadly with the exception of areas where there is poor quality internet service. They are represented in 115 countries, including North/South America, Europe and Asia and in more than 12,000 organizations. Now that is serious market penetration! They are also represented in military and maritime organizations.

 5. Development of the Market

This facet of the cube looks to developing the market in a quadrant of possibilities. Articulate is not in markets which have poor internet infrastructure or marginal languages, but flourish in markets which support custom work. They thrive in markets where content can be developed at any level, from the individual through to the corporation and government. It knows no real boundaries other than those with marginal technological infrastructure.

 6. Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

 Again, given that Articulate is a tool which can be manipulated to serve many masters, it can fit within other forms of learning, albeit not always optimally. The real question is how to engage the learning communities to see the value that this learning technology brings to the table and make allowances for its shortcomings by adding instructor led involvement.


 Certainly Articulate can work within a well developed learning system. Articulate Online has recently been added to their suite of software tools to track e-learning activity, as their LMS equivalent.


 As well, it could serve as the other form of learning technology for a region, however it may not be optimal if this is the only modality for learning.


 Articulate is by far one of the most flexible learning technology components, and while it may compete with an existing learning system, it can easily be geared up or down depending on the political circumstance.


September 17, 2008   3 Comments

Jag’s thoughts on Recombo and Ingenia

First off, I enjoyed watching all the ‘pitch’ examples and the use of video technology has definitely made this course more personable.

The two venture’s that I reviewed were Recombo and Ingenia.  I found both companies focused on offering e-learning services to traditional companies that are trying to digitalize their training or product offerings.  These clients have a choice in how to enter the e-learning  marketplace.  Either they develop the platform and resources ‘in-house’ with intrapreneurs and hire ‘IT’ specialists, or they contract out to a 3rd party entrepreneur who will develop and manage the technical infrastructure.

Recombo – offers clients a technological infrastructure that will allow the clients applications to be shared and used across other applications.  The company has made the transition from multiple product offerings to strictly being a service provider and a manager of the technical infrastructure that Recombo would customize for their clients.  A major client of Recombo is the traditional publisher Mindleader, and through this major client, Recombo is hoping to gain further clients.

Ingenia – specializes in e-learning applications and is focusing on the developing S.E. Asian market, specifically Vietnam.  Locally, this company has many government clients (SFU, ICBC, to name a few), yet when looking to establish overseas they are concentrating on multi-national corporations.  The e-learning applications for corporations could be for internal training or for accreditation.  In order to compete for government contracts in Vietnam, Ingenia did partner with a local software firm…ensuring that jobs and wealth are being re-invested back into Vietnam.

As an investor, I found both CEOs to be credible and knowledgeable about the industry.  That being said, I found it interesting that Recombo’s VP, Brad MacPhee, was wearing an earring.  I know that earrings are no big deal and apart of today’s norms, however I come from a traditional family and if Recombo is looking to venture into foreign markets,  it would be worth investigating how other cultures  perceive piercings and even tattoos for that matter.

In terms of the business model, both ventures revolve around large-scale contracts with major companies or with various levels of government.  Information technology and software architecture is a huge business, what is stopping giants such as Microsoft or Google from entering this market?  How would these companies respond and/or survive with greater competition?  Or is the goal of these ventures to be bought out by one of the larger companies allowing all investors to cash out?

In regards to the e-learning industry, are these programs being used for accreditation or are they being used by companies for internal training?  As an investor, I don’t see continuous cashflow in these businesses without the large scale contracts from major clients.  From my senses, it seems as though these companies are relying on large multinational corporations or governments to supply them with that ‘home-run’ contract.  Outside of these contracts, there are no external sources of revenue.  While I wish both entrepreneurs success in their ventures, I would not invest in either of these ventures…but than again, I never invested in Microsoft, Google, or Apple for that matter.

September 17, 2008   1 Comment

Fun cube tool

Some Flash Guru wrote a script to take a cube and spin it around with 6 arbitrary images around the cube.  I’ve just adapted to our 6 pictures.  It’s not terribly useful, but it makes for a neat visual.

Check it out, it may give you some ideas.  I may even take my responses to this exercise and add them as images to the faces.  Too bad I can’t then embed the flash here…

September 17, 2008   7 Comments

eXe Through the CUBE

eXe ( is an open source e-learning XHTML Editor I came across through the Commonwealth of Learning link on the International Development side of the mind map. The tool is developed in New Zealand and supported by CORE Education.

As an aside, this tool looked quite interesting so I downloaded the software and gave it a quick tryout.  I wish I’d found it sooner, as I think it might have been useful in some of my other courses such as the lesson development projects in ETEC 531, and ETEC 510.  Perhaps others may find it useful this way as well.

Face 1:   Market Focus
The market focus for eXe is probably largely higher-education, but I can also see it being used in the K-12 or corporate markets in cases where CMS’s are also being used.

Face 2:  Types of Offerings
eXe provides infrastructure.  It is a software package that allows teachers and academics to develop content, and publish in a variety of formats including SCORM, HTML, and iPod Notes. It also provides infrastructure that students could use directly to develop eportolios.

Face 3:  Who is the Buyer?
Since eXe is Open Source there is no buyer per se.  It doesn’t really require a local guide.  It is a single user software application and can be downloaded and installed for free by both teachers and students. It is available for Windows, Mac OS/X, and Linux machines.

eXe is basically a fill-in the blanks tool that doesn’t require much technical expertise or understanding. As such, I could see the tool helping Learning Technology department staff in post-secs work with teachers to facilitate course content development.

Face 4: Global Markets
Interface translations for eXe have been developed (remember it is Open-Source) to meet user requirements for a diverse range of languages. The eXe website lists 33 language translations including Norwegian, German, Japanese, Maori, Zulu, and Twi.  The markets would include portions of all the global markets on this face of the CUBE. The key barriers for the eXe market would be language (is there an available translation for the market, or is there someone willing to customize one), and network access (eXe could be used in a LAN situation, or an Internet situation depending on the market need).

Face 5: Development of the Market
There appears to be some local (Canadian) interest in eXe.  The eXe website publishes a frappr map (, but it isn’t clear whether all the pins indicate developed markets.

Darcy Norman has done a screencast, and a static eportfolio demo of his test with eXe, that also includes some discussion of his take on aspects of the market for eXe.

I am still working on my understanding of this face of the CUBE.  Wondering if someone might give me some insights on this?  Or perhaps I’ve misunderstood the whole exercise!?

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning
Content developed with eXe can be exported in a range of formats that can then be imported into most content management systems (CMS), including Moodle, WebCT, and other Open Source CMS systems. eXe would integrate well with most other learning systems that might already be in place.  It could work within a well developed learning system, it could substitute for other forms of learning, and because it is easy to use, it could also provide a bridge when working with other learning technologies has been imposed.

September 16, 2008   4 Comments

Cubism take on E-learning Products

The e-learning program that I would like to look at is probably very familiar to everyone. I wanted to look at the WebCT platform (Blackboard) because it is really the only one that I have had any experience with. Specifically I would like to look at how it is used within our own school district (SD 27 Cariboo-Chilcotin). Two years ago our school partnered with the distance learning school in Kamloops in order to offer more options to our students so that we could retain more of them. The idea was that we would offer courses to students that perhaps had a need to do their courses electronically for a variety of reasons. Some students were looking for ways to complete their high school studies at a quicker pace, others wished to take courses that simply were not offered in our regular timetable simply because of very low enrollment (i.e. English Lit 12). Still others, for a variety of reasons, felt that they could not successfully participate in a “regular classroom”.

In terms of the cube, the market is clearly K-12 although it really is only being offered through our school at the grade 10-12 level. The actual development of the courses/program was left up to the Kamloops school district.

In terms of the global market it is fairly limited. The students accessing this resource are really only those that fall within our catchment area. Theoretically we could be offering these courses to students outside of our area. Initially there was some attempt at being the hub for the whole school district but that never really got off the ground. The advantage form our school’s point of view was an increase in FTE. This is probably why it never happened as there does seem to be some competition between schools for FTE.

The development of the local market has not been very strong. The number of students who have taken advantage of these courses has been very small. The students that I have spoken to who have attempted these courses do find that there is a disconnect because they miss the face to face interaction with an instructor and their classmates. The delay in response to their questions (via email) is another common complaint.

The integration of the technology can be somewhat problematic. It is not that unusual for a student to have no access to high speed internet at home. In some cases, students have no access to internet at all. Because of this, the students are often tied to the computers in our school. Access to computers within the school can be difficult at times because of a lack of availability.

While I might be sounding negative, I do see a positive use for this type of program. The availability of these courses to students allows us as educators to fill a niche that perhaps a traditional timetable cannot fill. Despite the alarm expressed by some of my more senior colleagues on staff when we first introduced this new program, these courses are not being offered to replace staff. Instead, they are in place to meet the needs of students who, perhaps, would not have those needs met in a regular classroom setting.

Georges Braque, Woman with a guitar, 1913

September 16, 2008   4 Comments

Three Deal Making Principles

According to Joan Wood Moser, “Intrigue opens the deal, Facts justify the deal and Emotion closes the deal”.

Read about Why Investor Pitches Fail to Deliver.

September 16, 2008   4 Comments

Q for David & David

For the Module 3 post – is it ok to analyse the cube characteristics for an e-learning program that was piloted in a few countries, about few years ago, but never took off – one that I know of? I do not have another elearning software or environment in mind as of now. If this would not be ok then do I have the permission to analyse this MET program?


September 16, 2008   2 Comments

Using CUBE to evaluate Scholaris

Scholaris  is a Portal based learning gateway that the school district that I am an Administrator in has been rolling out over the past year.  I was one of the “champions” that was chosen to helped pilot scholaris as a solution to our lack of an e-learning platform.

Face 1 – Market Focus

The market focus for Scholaris is the K-12 public schools.  There are 3 products each targeting a different customer in that market.

2.  Types of Offerings

Scholaris offers infrastructure – provides a connected learning environment to allow collaboration between teaching staff and administrators, teachers and students, teachers and parents, students and parents.  The Through the internal portal District staff have access to the district servers from anywhere that they have internet access.  They can manage lessons, meetings, collaboration with colleagues and all components of their teaching.  Parents and students are granted permissions to access parts of the school portal. “In a single program the whole school community will have highly secure access to everything they need. ” (

 3.  Who is the Buyer?

In the case of our school district the learning is bought centrally -local guide offers to the learner.   After having the program piloted by several administrators and teachers within the district the purchasing decision was made centrally  and was imposed upon the entire district with the caveat that support would be provided at each phase of the rollout process. 

4.  Global Markets

Wired anglophone countries, Malaysia and Singapore.

5.  Development of the Market

The market supports the Import of Content and infrastructure?  I’m a little unclear how to go about dissecting this part of the analysis of Scholaris.  I would say that the market freely imports content and infrastructure to some extent. Local businesses tend to concentrate on services work. Any school district could replace previously imported products for various reasons including content or price but there are not many or any local companies producing similar products for export.

6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

The e-learning in this case works with and supports a well developed learning system.  After using Scholaris for the last 2 years I don’t believe that  Scholaris has developed to substitute or replace existing public education systems.  In their own words,

“Scholaris International is a software development company focused on building innovative solutions to improve teaching and learning across the global education market. Scholaris International’s flagship product “Scholaris Learning Gateway” provides an enriched and stimulating student centric learning environment, transforming education for the 21st century.  Scholaris allows;

  • Students have their own rich and engaging digital learning environment which is accessible anywhere anytime, where they can share, communicate, collaborate and complete assignments and activities.
  • Teachers are provided with a unified interface of applications, tools and student centric data allowing them to tailor an actionable curriculum for the student’s individual needs. Teachers are also able to communicate, collaborate and share content, curriculum, lessons and learning objects thereby fostering the use of best practise.
  • Parents have simple and seamless access to information, such as their child’s academic performance, attendance, workload, events and news enabling a richer engagement with their child’s learning and their school community.

Administrators are able to interpret and make informed decisions from a central view of information thus improving leadership and strategic direction.” (

September 15, 2008   2 Comments