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

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.” (http://www.angellearning.com/media/about_us/default.html). 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