A Pitch

November 30, 2009   14 Comments

MindLeaders Cubed

MindLeaders http://www.mindleaders.com

 My workplace has brought MindLeaders into our organization and is piloting its use with our IT department, so my exposure to this is limited to the past 2 months. MindLeaders is a company that has over 25 years experience designing elearning programs. The courses cover topics from software skills to leadership, from workplace and food safety to programming and network administration.

 Market Focus

-Commerical, Government and Educational Sector

 Types of Offering

– MindLeaders offers services, content and infrastructure.

– offers over 3000 e-learning courses (software skills, business skills, compliance training, technical training)

– learning platform – central learning management system

– reference library containing over 13000 electronic copies of books

– online mentors accessible 24/7 to respond to learners questions

– tech labs allows learners to practice IT skills in a safe live environment

 Who is the Buyer?

-Learning is bought centrally by corporations, government or educational sector for employees or students

 Global Markets

-The company is based in Ohio with a global market. In 2007 they merged with ThirdForce a company in Ireland and England. The website indicates they have over 1000 clients in more than 30 countries. I would assume that their global audience would be found only within those countries with solid internet infrastructure. The courses are in English so the learners would need a command of the English language.

Development of the Market

-MindLeaders offers partner opportunities to resell the elearning courses and the learning management platform. As in the case of my workplace, one reason we went with MindLeaders is the economic reason, to send IT staff to off site in class courses is expensive and often involves several consecutive days out of the office. With MindLeaders they can access the courses for a fraction of the price and take as many courses during a year as they like, not to mention read the books in the reference e-library. In this situation, MindLeaders substitutes other forms of learning due to cost. However, MindLeaders also can be seen as working with a well developed learning system to extend the reach and upgrade credentials of employees in such areas as business skills and technical training.  

October 10, 2009   No Comments

Global Education Initiative

World Economic Forum  – Global Education Initiative  


In its six years of existence, the Global Education Initiative has impacted over 1.8 million students and teachers and mobilized over US$ 100 million in resource support in Jordan, Rajasthan (India), Egypt, the Palestinian Territories and Rwanda. Today, the GEI engages over 40 private sector partners, 14 governments, seven international organizations and 20 NGOs with a Steering Board of nine Industry and Strategic Partners (AMD, Cisco, Edelman, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Satyam, StratReal, and SK Group).

When this initiative was launched in Egypt back in 2006, I’ve attended part of the ceremony, my analysis is mainly reflected from the Egyptian track.

Face 1: Market Focus

Egypt Education Initiative (EEI) has 4 tracks; K12, Higher Education, Life Long Learning and Corporate.

 Face 2: Type of Offerings

As the objective is to encourage Public/Private Partnership (PPP model), each commercial vendor supplied and sponsored either an Infrastructure, Content or Service.

 Face 3: Who is the buyer?

The hosting agency is the World Economic Forum, so such initiatives are normally discussed at the presidential level first during the famous Davos WEF summits. In Egypt, EEI is endorsed by the first lady of Egypt (Mrs. Suzan Mubarak) and the beneficiary stakeholders are; Ministry of ICT, MoE and MoHE

Face 4: Global Markets

Clearly such initiative targets developing countries. So far; Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Rajasthan.  What seems interesting, that WEF is asking piloted countries to extend support to new countries joining the program. This is what’s expected from Egypt to offer for Rwanda.

Face 5: Development of the Market

EEI model is to export best practice facilitated by international private companies (like the Intel Teach program which has been Cubed in this blog) , also capacity building is highly pushed forward to achieve the sustainability strategic objective of this initiative.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

As pointed above, technologies are being introduced as the big picture of integrating ICT in Education as one of the means for Education Reform.  Natural resistance is expected and alternatives are offered by starting with pilot model schools (ready for technology environment) in selected urban geography.


Food for thought; What the press reported when the initiative started that the international companies are engaged in this program for free, I believe there’s no such free lunch. What’s in it for the big guys is still something to debate and research further.

October 6, 2009   1 Comment

Engrade Cubed

I was recently introduced to Engrade, as some of the colleagues I’m teaching with are using it with a lot of success.  It is easy to use and very intuitive.  The company, Engrade, is based in San Diego, California, and was founded in 2003 by a team of Internet entrepreneurs.  Engrade is used all over the world today.  Engrade is free and claims to remain free of charge for educators.

Face 1: Market Focus

Engrade seems to be focused for school systems from K-12; or for any company that need to keep track of student records, such as tutoring services, summer camps/courses, or educational services that do not have a required grading system.  Engrade provides services to principals, teachers, parents, and students – all at the same time.

Face 2: Types of Offerings

Engrade provides services to principals, teachers, parents, and students.  Some of these services include updated information of students’ class marks, attendance, work habits, and scheduled tests and exams.

  • For teachers, they are able to input grades of student assignments online.  This can be done anywhere with an Internet access (and the password to sign-in).  It is a paperless gradebook.  The teacher can manage several classes, multiple students, and customized weighting and grading systems as well.  In addition, they are able to communicate privately among colleagues.
  • For principals, they are able to send messages to teachers at once or individually.
  • For parents and students, to check their grades and their information, class marks, missing assignments, work habits, customized feedback from the teacher, etc.


Engrade also provides some infrastructure in that it manages student and content.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

As this service is absolutely free, there is no “buyer” per se, but there are users.  The people who will be logging in to this service are students, parents, teachers, and principals.  So, the buyer would be people related to the K-12 system (or as mentioned earlier, an academic environment  – ex: tutoring company).

There is nothing to download; however, the only thing that participants must “buy” is access to the Internet.  If Internet access is a problem for the student, teachers can also print out specific pages for students to bring home.

Face 4 – Global Markets

Looking at Engrade, I do not see the option for other languages.  Therefore, I assume that this service is for English speakers only – or those who can navigate student names, numbers, and letter grades simply in English.  As our school is located in Beijing, China, it would be only be fair to say that English speakers in Asian Countries with Internet can also benefit from this service.  Basically, Engrade has a global market as long as there is interest.

Face 5 – Development of the Market

The market is among educators around the world (Engrade claims that over 250,000 educators are using this service).  Engrade is continually improving since 2003.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

Every classroom, regardless of public or private, has some sort of grading system.  Teachers will assess the students’ development in one way or another.  Engrade is an alternative to paper gradebooks, and because its functions are very similar to Integrade Pro (or now, PowerSchool Pro – Pearson Education), it may be in competition with electronic gradebooks that the school or school districts are required to use (such as BCeSIS – which I am, unfortunately, not familiar with).

October 6, 2009   5 Comments

BridgeIT Tanzania

This project, is supported by the International Youth Foundation,  The Tanzania Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Forum for African Women Educationalists, United States Agency for International Development and Nokia Siemens Networks. It distributes cell phones to teachers and gives them the capability to view information on the phones that helps them teach in elementary classrooms. The project adapts and creates mathematics, science and life skills videos and establishes the necessary technological infrastructure for teachers to access the content in their classrooms.


Face 1: Market Focus

BridgeIT is aimed at teachers in elementary schools, so the focus is k-12 (although there is an element of training involved in that the information goes to teachers to improve their instruction rather than to the children directly).

Face 2: Types of Offerings

The end product of the program is content. Information is provided to teachers on hand-held mobile phones. One of the partners of the program is Nokia, and they presumably are interested in selling mobile phones, so there may be some interest in providing hardware as well which would come under the heading of infrastructure.

Face 3: Who is the buyer?

In this case the buyer would be the schools who have agreed to be part of the project, although at this stage they are not paying for the devices or content. Perhaps, then, the buyer is the International Youth Foundation that is funding the project? Presumably the idea is to develop a product and service that can eventually be sold to schools and teachers across developing nations.

Face 4: Global Markets

This project is aimed exclusively at markets where there is poor or non -existent internet availability. If the product and the project are successful, it might be possible to market this kind of product to vast populations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Face 5: Development of the Market

At the present time, this project is in a market that does not support learning technologies. The hope is that projects like BridgeIT will develop products and services that will become viable opportunities. Presumably this is why companies like Nokia are involved in the project.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

This project is bringing content into schools where there was previously no access to this kind of information. This does not compete with any other forms of learning.

October 4, 2009   1 Comment

The Hottest Ed Tech Company?

That’s not my title, but someone else has posted something about the company Techsmith, which I do like and use. How they evaluate the conpany may interest everyone … although, cubing it may be better.


I have been thinking of ways to use Jing for creating machinima — a creatve way to have students practise their language skills through storytelling. If you want to watch some good examples of machinima, go here.


October 1, 2009   4 Comments

iParadigims: Turnitin

iParadigims (Turnitin) Cubed

When I think about e-learning technologies and businesses, I tend to think mainly of the delivery, presentation, and access to information aspects of e-learning.  Turnitin is something different; it is a digital information tracking software that protects intellectual property.  Recently, it has started to evolve into a comprehensive online teaching tool, integrating filing management with both teacher and peer assessment.

Market Focus:

Initially, Turnitin focused on post-secondary institutions and is generally used to check the authenticity of student writing.  Today, however, Turnitin, has expanded the utility of its services to include grade-book options and assessment strategies, and, as a result, has expanded its market to include K-12.  Turnitin is especially useful to teachers of the Social Sciences and English where the volume of student written output is greatest.

Types of offerings:


In addition to searching of plagiarism, Turnitin provides a number of additional services and is evolving into complete management and assessment system for teachers.  The online “Write Cycle” system allows students to actively engage in a collaborative writing workshop.  In addition, Turnitin provides grade-book services.


There has been a definite shift in the content delivered by iParadigims which, interestingly enough, has started to morph into more of a learning interface. It seems like this is natural progression and possibly a necessary one given the emerging competition in this area (ie. Google Docs).


iParadigims provides internet-based services designed primarily to protect intellectual property.   It is expanding this service to include online evaluation and assessment tools.

Turnitin also is designed to allow for open integrations with e-learning systems such as WebCT.

Who is the buyer?

Up until recently, the buyer has been post-secondary institutions.  More recently, however, with the addition of online products, the target market has expanded to include K-12 public schools.  Turnitin services are packaged such that they can be purchased by individual teachers—a fairly expensive proposition which works out to about one dollar/assignment.  The most cost effective way to purchase the service is as a school or department.  The flat rate for a medium to large public school (1500-2000 students) is approximately $3500.00 US.  This fee includes unlimited access to all of the services for a one year period.

Global Markets:

Turnitin is current available in 10 different languages and in 110 different countries.  The only real barriers to market would be the lack of internet in developing countries or the lack of language capabilities.  The primary market, however, is post-secondary institutions world-wide.




September 29, 2009   14 Comments

Wharton Africa Business Forum

This is an annual forum I came across, field trip anyone?


It has some interesting topics and is very pro-Africa as a place to invest.  Thoughts?


September 28, 2009   2 Comments

Moodle Cubed

I use it every day and still find it fascinating.

Moodle is an open source Learning Management System (LMS) that provides a framework for elearning course delivery.  The LMS is a shell through which “customers” offer course content.  Moodle provides a wide range of tools to facilitate online interaction between students and offers the administration functionality required to enroll, grade, and monitor student and teacher users.

Face 1 – Market Type

Moodle is being used in the K-12 sector and corporate training but has found its biggest niche at the post-secondary level in fully online courses and blended classrooms.

Face 2 – Offering

Moodle offers two services.  The first , branded as Moodle.org (the product) is a completely free and open source software platform.  The second, Moodle.com (the service) is a company that offers hosting, support, and customization through country-based Moodle partners that pay royalties to Moodle (which are then used to support development of the product).

Face 3 – The Buyer

Moodle the product is usually acquired at an institutional level (school, school board, university, corporation).  Due to the free nature of the product the decision to utilize Moodle does not always come through the usual channels and often takes a grassroots approach as instructors and technicians pilot the platform.

Moodle the service is purchased by organizations who wish customization of the product, in-house training, and feature development.

Face 4 – Global Markets

As an open source project, Moodle has the benefit of a large client based contributing back to the product.  As such, the Moodle interface has been translated into 81 different language interfaces (Moodle, n.d.).  Since content is developed by the customer, the product is viable in any wired market.

Moodle partners offering a wide array of paid support services operate out of 33 different countries offering a wide range of language support and local suppliers (Dougiamas, 2007).

Face 5 – Development of the Market

Within the scope of the wired marketplace, learning management systems are well-supported and in growing demand as institutions look to offer online or blended learning environments.  Additionally, acceptance of open-source software is gaining acceptance for use at the enterprise level with successful products like Linux, Apache, Firefox, and OpenOffice being recognized as equivalent or superior to their commercial counterparts.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

While the impetus for competition varies globally with jurisdiction, there seems to be a trend in wired markets for elearning technologies to augment or replace traditional classroom settings (Howell, Williams & Lindsay, 2003).  Whether this is market driven where students are demanding the flexibility to study at their convenience and maintain work schedule; or government/corporate policy to reduce cost in infrastructure spending on brick and mortar learning spaces.

Dougiamas, M. (2007). Moodle: A Case Study in Sustainability. Retrieved Sept 24, 2009 from

Howell, S., Williams, P., & Lindsay, N. (2003). Thirty-two Trends Affecting Distance Education: An Informed Foundation for     Strategic Planning. Retrieved September 28, 2009 from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall63/howell63.html.

Moodle (n.d.). Moodle UTF-8 Language Packs.  Retrieved September 24, 2009 from http://download.moodle.org/lang16/.

September 26, 2009   7 Comments

Teen Second Life Cubed

The younger, safer, sibling of Second Life, Teen Second Life (TSL) offers educators in secondary education an opportunity to instruct in an immersive environment without putting their students at risk of harm from predators. Access to TSL is for teens and rigorously screened adults only. Movement of adults in the world is very restricted, but teens can move about freely. TSL is owned and operated by Linden Labs, the same company that owns Second Life.


Face 1: Market Focus

Teen Second Life is designed for teens 13-17 so obviously they are focused on secondary education. Because of the tight restrictions higher education institutions and corporations must go to the main Second Life grid.

Face 2: Types of Offerings

Linden Labs is offering the infrastructure in which educators and students can create content. Instructors and students can create virtual educational spaces where all the data is saved on Linden Lab’s servers, but which they can access from their own computers.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

There are two levels of buyer in TSL. First, they are trying to attract institutions like school to buy land and create a presence in TSL. Second, individual instructors who are early adopters of the technology may purchase land themselves. This may occur when schools are not willing to invest and the individual teacher wants to prove the concept to a principal or a superintendant. Teens can create accounts for free, so they are not buyers.

Face 4 – Global Markets

Because all the documentation and marketing for TSL is in English, the primary market would be wired Anglophone countries, with some customers coming from European countries with language skills. It would be possible for instructors from Asia and other well wired areas who had English skills to set up a virtual environment for students who would then communicate in other languages. This would mean that TSL could expand into any market that had good, high speed internet and a population with higher end computers.

Face 5 – Development of the Market

TSL targets markets with well developed internet access and a population which has access to higher end computers with good graphics capabilities. They also need to attract instructors who are willing to go outside of their classrooms and create educational experiences in a virtual world. Within that relatively narrow niche, they compete well in the market because they have all the technology and software developed for Second Life. Other educational immersive environments have less developed infrastructures, or are based on earlier versions of Second Life released as open-source projects. Linden Labs has the economically successful Second Life to drive development and improvement of both Second Life and TSL while the smaller and open source projects have fewer resources.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

Teaching in immersive environments like TSL is currently an adjunct to teaching face to face in a classroom. The 3D building environment competes with some aspects of traditional teaching, like lab demonstrations and lectures, and provides the opportunity for students from geographically separated locations to interact and work together. In the future immersive environments may displace some aspects of traditional teaching, but with the current level of technology and the constraints of having to have a higher end computer; TSL is still very much on the fringe of teaching and learning.

September 26, 2009   3 Comments