e-PIKE cubed

e-PIKE™, created by Advanced Integrity Solutions Ltd. (Calgary), is an innovative learning management system (LMS) designed to meet the needs of locations with limited bandwidth connections to the internet. One of their goals is to reach remote communities in developing nations in Africa. The Internet information on this product is very limited. It is very new (March 2009), so I am sure that if it is successful, it might be something we hear about soon.

 Face 1: Market Focus

e-Pike could be purchased by any number of groups considering it is an LMS and authoring software. However, the information provided online leads me to believe that AIS is marketing to corporate groups and governments. Since this infrastructure costs money, businesses and governments must find a way to finance this technology.

The e-Pike information sheet states:

“Applications for this technology include:

• Businesses with remote field training needs (oil and gas, construction)

• Government organizations maintaining remote offices

• Reaching remote communities in developing nations in Africa

• Supporting humanitarian missions abroad

• Allowing countries to rebuild faster from conflict or disaster”



Face 2: Types of Offerings

e-Pike is offering infrastructure only. The fact sheet states: “The e-PIKE™ core uses proven learning management software from the open source community.  With millions of users world-wide this software is fully SCORM 1.2 compliant allowing for e-Learning professionals to upload their course content with confidence of delivering a rich environment for students to focus on their studies. (http://www.advancedintsol.com/news/e-PIKE_product_info.pdf)”


Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

Although this infrastructure has been developed for developing nations and remote training field needs, it costs money to have it. I am sure AIS is expecting governments and businesses to purchase this product.  For this reason, I would suggest the learning is bought centrally by corporations and developing regions.


Face 4 – Global Markets

 e-Pike was developed for remote areas and Africa – both areas with no or poor quality Internet service. This is a fairly new technology (released in March 2009), so I am not sure if this technology is actually being used in Africa yet. The company has not declared this technology for any other developing nations, and Africa is a very large and diverse continent, so it will be interesting to see where this product goes in the next few years.


Face 5 – Development of the Market

The remote areas, especially remote areas in Africa, do not support learning technologies. In fact, many of these areas do not even have access to basic radio technology or desks and chairs. As well, even if the infrastructure becomes available, local teaching resources most likely won’t be. Lundell and Howell (2000, as cited in Butcher, 2003) suggest insufficient funding; a lack of computers and other resources; a lack of computer literacy among teachers; and the absence of established curricula for teaching computer skills are hindering schools from using computers for learning. In addition, even schools that have a computer rarely have access to the Internet. In Ethiopia, “nine of the 12,000 primary schools had Internet access at the end of 2001, and ten of the 424 secondary schools (Butcher, 2003, p. 61).” 


Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

 In remote areas of Africa, existing learning solutions are not working.  Many children do not have access to basic classrooms, books, and teachers. Literacy levels are low, as well as limited technology exposure. In 1960, Sub Saharan African governments dedicated themselves to providing primary education for children and by the 1990’s, those countries implemented Education for All (EFA). Suprisingly, by 2001, “over 45 million children of primary school age in the region, almost 42 percent, were not enrolled in school (Zhang, 2006, p.581).”



Overall, I believe that of intent for this project is positive; however, without someone to develop the content and provide the technical support, I have a hard time expecting this project will be successful. Africa is such a challenging and diverse place to market e-learning. In ETEC 511, I had the opportunity to research education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Not surprisingly, the level of technology present in Africa is considerably low compared to developed countries. Extension technologies, such as radios and televisions have spread throughout Africa more so than computer technology (2001, http://www.adeanet.org/publications/nesis/AssessmentofBasicEduc.pdf). In addition, neither technology requires the ability to read and write which allows individuals to receive information easily. However, there is still great disparity within each country. In 2001, of the 818 million people in Africa, only 1 in 4 had a radio, 1 in thirteen had a television, 1 in forty had a landline telephone, 1 in 130 had a personal computer, and 1 in 160 used the Internet (Butcher, 2003, p.68).  Along with infrastructure and resource issues, there are issues with cultural perceptions of Western technology and education. There are many challenges involved that might not be answered by e-Pike.



Butcher, N. (2003). Technological infrastructure and use of ICT in education in Africa: an overview. Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). Retrieved on October 7, 2007 http://www.adeanet.org/wgdeol/wgdeol/publications/icttec.pdf.


Zhang, Y. (2006). Urban-Rural Literacy Gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Roles of Socioeconomic Status and School Quality. Comparative Education Review,  50 (4), 581 – 602.


1 Mark Reed { 09.29.09 at 8:40 pm }

Hi Amy
it is good to see Canada still has a hand in developing technology solutions that tackle challenges developing countries face. Nice work referencing your statistics – it will be interesting to see if the development we have seen in the western world through phones and television to computer will be leap frogged in Africa.

2 davidp { 09.29.09 at 8:59 pm }

I’m a bit skeptical of this company, Amy.

Sounds like a product that was developed primarily for supporting remote resource extraction camps, and has been given some lipstick to make it appear like an attractive system for rural development and education. SCORM compliance is a big thing in technical training and competency-management situations in my experience, not K-12 education.

Take a look at the opening screen of the company’s web site. Do these look like teachers who would make rural children smile?


This one looks like a good candidate for further investigative EVA due diligence.


3 Greg Lewis { 09.29.09 at 9:02 pm }

Hi also Amy:

I agree that the African market is tough. I am wondering what exactly infrastructure means? If it is actual transmission lines or other facilities on the ground, I wonder about their security given the large amount of open conflict that exists in this continent. The statistics re: what Africans own (radio/tv/internet) is staggering – sadly interesting.


4 Amy Frank { 09.30.09 at 6:46 am }

Hi David,
I am skeptical of this company, as well. I thought I would take a look at them because they are based out of Calgary and very recent, not because I found them promising. I think for me, I couldn’t even tackle the company end, because I had such a hard time getting past the fact that they intend on using this infrastructure in Africa. There are so many issues involved at a high-level, I couldn’t imagine getting down to the details of the product offering.

You bring up an excellent about the market group. Africa is in need of K-12, and this does not fit this criteria. I wonder if this is just a project designed for tax breaks and to market as a globally conscious provider. It makes me wonder…..

Thanks for your comments!

5 davidp { 09.30.09 at 8:56 am }

“I wonder if this is just a project designed for tax breaks and to market as a globally conscious provider. It makes me wonder…’

This could be it. It wouldn’t be the first time.

6 Bev { 09.30.09 at 9:34 am }

I agree with you David- As I was reading it I thought it sounded like a resource for extraction camps- Interesting that Advanced Integration Systems is hiring on-line ESL instructors for $9/hr. They appear to be a multi-faceted company.

7 Annette Smith { 10.01.09 at 6:04 pm }

I find it interesting, as have several other people, that AIS is also targeting resource extraction companies. In the best possible light, this might be to generate resources to fund their k-12 side of the project, but I am also skeptical.

It may be more realistic to invest in projects that give mobile phones to teachers to provide support for k-12 education, as that technology may come to more remote areas of Africa before internet access.

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