Aplia – Cube Analysis

Aplia.com 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