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. ” (http://scholarislg.com/index.php)

 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.” (http://scholarislg.com/content/view/18/28/)

September 15, 2008   2 Comments

Using the CUBE to evaluate KEEP Toolkit

Warning:  This post is going to be (too?) long.

The product I’ll explore is KEEP Toolkit, an eportfolio tool developed through the Knowledge Media Lab (KML) at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Face 1: Market Focus

Their market is K-12 and Higher Education

“Carnegie is an institution whose thinking and actions are organized around teaching and those who teach, from preschool to graduate school (http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/about/index.asp).

Face 2: Types of Offerings

KEEP Toolkit would fall under the category of infrastructure.

Their web page describes the product as follows:

The KEEP Toolkit is a set of web-based tools that help teachers, students and institutions quickly create compact and engaging knowledge representations on the Web. With the KEEP Toolkit you can:

· select and organize teaching and learning materials.

· prompt analysis and reflection by using templates.

· transform materials and reflections into visually appealing and intellectually engaging representations.

· share ideas for peer-review, assessment, and collective knowledge building.

· simplify the technical tasks and facilitate knowledge exchange and dissemination. (http://www.cfkeep.org/static/index.html)

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

Rather than buyers, there are users. A university for example is able to install the software free of charge at its own institution and make it accessible to students and faculty from this installation.

Alternatively, anyone can create an eportfolio account that is hosted on Carnegie’s server.

Keep Toolkit stands for The Knowledge Exchange Exhibition and Presentation (KEEP) Toolkit and

is a set of open-source tools developed at the KML [and] is intended to provide an economical and accessible solution to this challenge. The KEEP Toolkit is available to educators and students at all levels as a free service from our website. We have also made the Toolkit available as an open source software application so that institutions, departments, and educational organizations can also implement and administer the Toolkit locally and integrate it into their local systems as needed. (http://www.cfkeep.org/static/about/about.html)

Recently, Keep Toolkit has been placed on the Sourceforge site, and a community to continue developing and sharing developments is being formed. http://sourceforge.net/projects/keeptoolkit/

Interestingly, two Carnegie initiatives will now focus on Higher Education and its need to prepare students for Political Engagement, as well examining how liberal education can give Business Majors a boost.

Face 4 – Global Markets

With this particular product, I would say that most of the users are from Wired Anglophone Countries.

Face 5 – Development of the Market

Market Supports Export Oriented Learning Technologies and Substitution of Imports

The market freely imports content and infrastructure. Local companies also produce similar products for export, as well as providing local services. In some cases, local products replace previously-imported products, either due to better localization of content, or because of a price advantage.

I’m not sure that I am clear on this aspect- my interpretation would be that Keep Toolkit is in a market that freely imports content and infrastructure. Where I work, ( University of Waterloo),  technology is supported centrally. However, because of the nature of higher education, individual instructors may have preferences for one tool over another. Students may decide to use another tool to create their eportfolio, or an instructor may decide to choose another tool. As we try to encourage and help students foster their ability to integrate their learning, it becomes a challenge to support a tool that will be all things to all users. At the same time, reliance on a number of different tools that aim to accomplish the same thing may make it more difficult for students to integrate their learning.

UW has recently chosen to comply with the Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations (UDLE’s) http://ocav.uwaterloo.ca/background/. This may make it more attractive to have an eportfolio system that supports administrative purposes of gathering data rather than a system that is more learner-centred.

At the same time, we want to support integration and life long learning. A system that integrates easily with the centrally supported LMS is very attractive. At the same, the ability for a student to have access to the eportfolio after graduation may not be possible using commercial software.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

“Fostering students abilities to integrate learning- across courses, over time, and between campus and community life- is one of the most important goals and challenges of higher education” (http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/files/elibrary/integrativelearning/what-is-ILP.htm).

Depending upon how it is used, the eportfolio can be very learner centred. Students make connections that are meaningful to them. Although artifacts may come from individual courses, this is not necessarily the case. The eportfolio is a tool that helps students integrate their learning, helps them reflect on what they are learning, and how they are learning, and helps them plan for future actions based upon lessons learned in the past.

In my experience, in some instances, students have been able to choose the tool which best suits their purposes. In other instances, students have been required to use the tool that is centrally supported.

The IMS Global Learning Consortium describes different types and uses of eportfolios (IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2005). The tool that a certain institution chooses to support, or require its students to use will depend upon the way the eportfolio is being used, and what type of information the institution wants to glean from students’ eportfolios. Similarly, the tool that a student chooses to use to create an eportfolio may depend upon the main purpose. Does the student wish to use the eportfolio to showcase strengths to a prospective employer, or does she want to use the eportfolio to help track her development over time, set goals and plan for the future.

The Cube model may not be the best for evaluating initiatives that are open source and encourage a more collaborative and open form of development where all community members adapt tools for their own use, and share this freely with the rest of the community.

I had problems trying to analyse KEEP Toolkit using Faces 5-6. Perhaps there is another model that would work better.

References
IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (June 2005. IMS ePortfolio Best Practice and Implementation Guide. Retrieved September 15, 2008, from http://www.imsglobal.org/ep/epv1p0/imsep_bestv1p0.html#1663759.

September 15, 2008   2 Comments

Welcome to Module 3

Hi Everyone,

As you’ve probably guessed already, Module 3 is somewhat like a dry run for your Assignment #1 analysis of a specific venture or a market environment.  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.

Perhaps the most important point of departure for most of you will be to “think global” for your marketplace.  The rest of the world often seems a lot hungrier for learning than North America, but almost everything about making it a business is different.

Please remember that Module 3 is two (2) weeks long – indicative of the attention we’re expecting from you here.   See if everyone else’s cube-mapping activities make sense to you.

We’re looking forward to your contributions,
DavidV

September 15, 2008   No Comments

EVAs ‘R Us.com

Due to my late registration in this course, I’ll focus on two Pitch Pools:

·         Recombo

·         Ingenia

The title of this article suggests we/I are/am Educational Venture Analysts (EVAs). I certainly did not feel like an EVA. My M.O. throughout these pitches was to start/stop them frequently (to decipher what was said and see how it fits with the criteria). Here are the results of my efforts.

Recombo 2004/2005

Over the years I’ve learned (the hard way) to listen to my “gut instincts.” As an EVA, my gut says “pass.” Here’s why:

  • Within one year they’ve transitioned from a products company to a services company. This “flip” in focus implies the organization did not have a strong understanding of their proposed market. They didn’t do their research. They’re basically functioning on a trial-and-error basis. That’s an unattractive concept for investors. Do you want to invest money in a company an experiment? Sure, a company must adjust to customer needs and so on, but this appears to be a complete overhaul.
  • It seems that Brad’s business motivation is to sell off the company once it gets big enough (i.e. 100 million). A bit of a “cart before the horse” scenario.
  • The business model relies heavily on customer’s opening up their client lists to Recombo. For example, Lighthouse would allow Recombo access to their learning clients. Since Recombo has already changed focus once, what’s to stop them from gathering large client lists from other companies, change focus to service them…basically steal customers from Lighthouse.
  • Having various computer systems share data streams is the panacea of most technology companies….i.e. everyone’s working to that end. I would invest my money in a proven company..e.g Sun.
  • No real discussion about the management team, their credentials etc.

I could go on but think you get the point.

Ingenia

The pitch started off wonderfully and she almost had me sold on investing, but here’s a few reasons why I decided not to investment:

  • It’s primarily a consulting firm. Consultants are a dime a dozen! I’m interested in investing in companies that “do” instead of companies that “tell you how to do it” All the “do” stuff is sub-contracted so I’d anticipate Ingenia’s margin for profit would be low.
  • They’re going after foreign markets when they really haven’t established themselves locally…besides a few government contracts which we don’t really learn about. Asian markets are culturally sensitive so wondering if they have an Asian within their management team.
  • 40% of my investment would go to pay for their travel! I’m  not investing money in a company so they can travel.
  • Ramona claims to be a guru in her field.  I don’t see any evidence in the pitch.

For both pitches, I’ve included some of the pitch criteria within the given points. Again, I looked at it as an EVA looking to invest my hard earned money. Hopefully, this synopsis doesn’t come across as being too gnarly…I don’t like to foolishly part with my money J

September 15, 2008   4 Comments

highlighting links in messages?

I just posted a message in Mod 3 and including some links. When I wrote the message the links were a different color from the rest of the text but when I published it, you could no longer distinguish between the links and the regular text. Is there a way to make my links more visible to the reader?

September 15, 2008   No Comments

Texas Instruments

Trying to get a head start this week.

The e-learning product I have chosen to explore is the Texas Instruments TI graphing calculator.

FACE 1

In Canada, graphing calculators are required or recommended for most provincial high school exams, therefore, the market focus would be K-12 and probably spill over into Higher Education as well.

FACE 2

I would say that the Texas Instruments offers services to their clients. Their website has links for applications and downloads which can be added to the calculators. There are also lesson plans, classroom activities, test preparations for both educators and students.

FACE 3

The buyer differs in each individual case. There is the option for the learner to buy a calculator for themselves; however, a parent most likely will buy the calculator for their child to use in the classroom. Additionally, some schools may purchase a large number of calculators for their students so they will all be using the same instruments. Texas Instruments now offers educator calculators that are only sold to educators and administrators in a school bus yellow color. This enables the distinction and monitoring of school property.

FACE 4

Texas Instruments offer their product and services to many global markets including wired Anglophone countries, European countries with language skills, European countries requiring translation, and Asian countries with quality internet.

FACE 5

Because Texas Instruments has so many markets, I would say that the majority of them would fall under the category of “Market supports export oriented learning technologies and substitution of imports.” There are other graphing calculators and other companies that offer similar products.

FACE 6

Texas Instruments graphing calculators will not replace traditional mathematics instruction. Therefore, it is a technology that works well with an existing, well-developed learning system.

September 15, 2008   3 Comments

Corporate Jingle and Venture or Marketing Pitch – does one affect the other?

I don’t know if I’m introducing the “Corporate Jingle” a little too early in this course, or if it is part of a marketing pitch that should, should not be part of the pitch process or have I opened a can of worms by stating that I think a corporate Jingle should be part of a pitch campaign?

Case in point,

As a young kid growing up in the Interior of BC, we lived in a community 2 hours drive, north of Spokane Washington, 90 percent of our TV programs came out of that city. KXLY  TV is one that comes to mind, don’t remember the rest.

To this day, 48 years later, I still remember the jingle of two elderly ladies as they sang, “when you dis-co-ver oil… call Boyle… If you tap the notes on the keyboard of a piano, it should sound something like this. First, find middle C then follow the notes for the jingle. When (middle C) you (F) dis (G) co (A) ver (b flat) oil (C) call (b flat) Boyle (A) let the word Boyle resonate for a couple seconds. Does anyone remember hearing that jingle?

To get you to sing the jingle properly is not part of my pitch, but in my opinion, I believe that a Jingle develops an immediate auditory connection as a marketing strategy for the End User. If introduced correctly during the pitch campaign, investors have another reminder of the pitch, the product or service that they can relate to. Possibly even an image of the person who developed the jingle or the day and time it was seen in the board room. (I hesitate to mention that advertising costs money and some businesses may not be financially able to afford TV or radio spots.) I remember Jed, firing his shot gun at some food and saying to myself back then, “I wonder if he knew to call Boyle?”

Just because there is a catchy tune, does it mean a successful business venture, obviously not. But, at least the investor remembers a previous experience to it. If it’s catchy enough and heard often enough, would it persuade an investor to lean in that direction? Everyone is hearing it… I also ask, “Is a Marketing pitch part of the Venture pitch? Are they the same thing?  Is one embedded in the other?”

Let’s look at “life could be a dream sweetheart….” you know you’ve heard that before. What comes to mind? How about, “Home Depot – you can do it, we can help.” What a GREAT line, it implies that, “you CAN do it.” I know lots of wanna-be Home Reno types who are into it knee deep and have no idea how to get out.

thanks, ddp

September 15, 2008   1 Comment