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Friday, February 27, 2009

Sean McKeever, e-Instruction: Interview -- Innovators in E-Learning Series

Innovations in digital tablets to encourage collaborative e-learning have helped students of diverse learning styles and preferences engage more fully and effectively. Welcome to an interview with Sean McKeever, eInstruction, who develops new learning strategies to ways to adopt new technologies. Students can concurrently interact with and contribute to the same digital content from team activities to learning simulations to interactive lessons

What is your name, and what is your involvement in e-learning?

My name is Sean McKeever, and I’m the Director of Classroom Solutions at eInstruction. I’ve always had a strong passion for education which has driven me to develop new technologies for students and teachers for 10 years. I’ve been a team member at eInstruction since 2005.

What are Interwrite Mobi System and DualBoard (, and what are their mission and vision?

The Interwrite® Mobi System

The Interwrite Mobi System is the first-of-its-kind multi tablet and multi user system. The Mobi System includes the Interwrite Mobi tablet (for teachers), two Interwrite Mobi Learner tablets (for students), Mobi Dock (charging & security station) and Interwrite Workspace® 8.0 software.


The mission of the Mobi System is to support student-centered, collaborative learning where both teachers and students can concurrently interact with and contribute to the same digital content from team activities to learning simulations to interactive lessons.

This mission is, in turn, part of a larger corporate vision in which all eInstruction products – hardware, software and content – serve to help educators realize academic progress everyday…in the classroom as well as at the school and district levels.

Mobi: Students can concurrently interact with and contribute to the same digital content from team activities to learning simulations to interactive lessons

The Interwrite® DualBoard

The Interwrite DualBoard is the first operational dual pen interactive whiteboard to hit the education market. The DualBoard allows two pens to be used at the same time on a single interactive whiteboard, creating the perfect solution for two students to work simultaneously at the front of the classroom.


The mission of the DualBoard is to create a learning environment centered on teamwork and students learning from each other. Teachers can have two students at the whiteboard solving two different homework problems at the same time.

As above, this mission too is part of a broader corporate vision in which all eInstruction products – hardware, software and content – serve to help educators realize academic progress everyday…in the classroom as well as at the school and district levels.

The Interwrite® DualBoard

Who do you consider to be the target audience? Why?

The target market for the Interwrite Mobi and the Interwrite DualBoard is the K-12 classrooms. The very nature of these products creates a collaborative learning environment that encourages student-to-student and student-to teacher interaction, which definitely appeals to K-12 educators.

What makes Interwrite Mobi System and DualBoard effective?

The Interwrite® Mobi System

From the teacher’s view point, I would say that the most powerful aspect of the Mobi System lies within the assessment technology that has been integrated into the Mobi tablet (for teachers). When used with our student response systems, the integrated color LCD screen on the Mobi displays individual student answers in real time. This dynamic feature allows teachers to privately view every student’s graded answer seconds after a question has been posed. With this knowledge at hand, teachers are empowered to provide differentiated instruction as the lesson unfolds, making sure that each student understands a concept even though their learning styles may differ.

The DualBoard is an effective educational tool because it was created to be shared—students sharing information, one student working on one problem while the teacher sets up the next problem with the other pen, etc.

Have recent changes in the way online learners interact changed anything about Interwrite Mobi System and DualBoard? (social networking, Twitter, wikis, multimedia, voice boards, etc.)

Both the Interwrite Mobi System and DualBoard are designed to facilitate access to and the use of digital content, whether drawn from the instructor's own computer or via the Internet. So these products mesh very well with the growing role and impact of Web-based content and collaboration tools.

Please list and describe a few key benefits of using Interwrite Mobi System and DualBoard. Do you have any demos? (please provide links, and a jpeg or two, with captions)

Key benefits of the Interwrite® Mobi System

Collaboration- creates a collaborative learning environment encouraging teamwork;
Mobility- allows the teacher to remain mobile in the classroom and look over students’ shoulders as he/she is instructing;
Assessment results- sends real time assessment results to the Mobi tablet. This allows the teacher to re-teach any concepts that aren’t “clicking” with the kids.

Key benefits of the Interwrite® DualBoard

Collaboration- creates a collaborative learning environment encouraging teamwork,
Engagement- provides interactive lessons that engage students and make lessons come to life.

Please describe upcoming activities. (please provide links and a jpeg or two, with captions)

Both the Interwrite Mobi and Interwrite DualBoard will be demonstrated at the following upcoming trade shows:

National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Feb. 27 – Mar. 1, 2009, in San Diego, CA

California Computer-Using Educators (CUE), Mar. 5-7, 2009, in Palm Springs, CA

FOSE, Mar. 10-12, 2009, in Washington, DC

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Mar. 14-16, 2009, in Orlando, FL

National School Boards Association (NSBA), April 4-7, 2009, in San Diego, CA

National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), June 28 – July 1, 2009, in Washington, DC

Georgia Educational Technology Consortium (GAETC), Nov. 4-6, 2009, Atlanta, GA

National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), Nov. 13-15, 2009, in Atlanta, GA

Optional question: Do you see any applications of Interwrite Mobi System and DualBoard for developing online courses for technical / professional development?

Both products will be compatible with new "virtual" clicker software that eInstruction is developing which will make it possible for instructors to create, administer and manage assessments of both on-site and online students.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Interview with Alec Jeong, Cooliris: 3D Immersive Browsing -- Innovators in E-Learning Series

The next new thing in web-browsing will be a 3D immersive experience. That is, at least, what many people believe. The implications for e-learning are interesting -- the kinds of research and resources that will be available with 3D visualizations via one's browser could revolutionize the way we conceive of and display statistics, the earth, and earth processes -- just to name a few. Welcome to an interview with Alec Jeong, whose company, Cooliris (, is pioneering the use of 3D visualization of Web information.

What is your name, your position, and your affiliation and what is your involvement in Cooliris?
My name is Alec Jeong. I lead the marketing communications initiatives at Cooliris, and have been a team member since the company’s inception in 2006.

What is Cooliris (, and what is its mission and vision?
Cooliris, Inc. was founded in January 2006 with a simple mantra: "Think beyond the browser." Our company's flagship product is Cooliris, a free browser add-on that provides a lightning fast, cinematic way to discover the Web. Hailed by the New York Times as the "new immersive approach to Web navigation," Cooliris transforms your browser into an expansive "3D Wall" that lets you browse thousands of photos, videos, and more with superior ease and speed. Cooliris is available for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari (Mac).

What do you identify as the key new trends that have made Cooliris beneficial to people?
Despite the advances in computer technology and the increase in information on the web in the past 10 years, the way people browse the Internet has not evolved at the same pace. Browsing and looking for images, videos, products, and news requires clicking from site to site, page to page—a somewhat tedious and slow process.

Cooliris takes Web-browsing to the next generation, allowing efficient consumption of the vast amount of information on the web. Cooliris lets users easily find and search images and videos within a full-screen, vivid environment. Inline search functionality and the pageless 3D Wall makes visual browsing a fast and more enjoyable process. There’s no need to jump from site to site, or click page by page, nor squint at thumbnail images.

How does Cooliris work? Can you provide one or two examples?
You can use Cooliris in two ways: as a standalone application or as an enhancement to your normal browsing experience.

After installing our free lightweight plugin, you can launch Cooliris by clicking a special Cooliris icon located on your browser toolbar. Once inside Cooliris, you are brought into a full-screen interface where you can easily glide through images and videos on an ever-expanding 3D Wall. An inline search function lets you search across major media sites including Google images, Flickr, YouTube, and Hulu, and a number of others. Cooliris also includes Discover, which lets you watch the latest TV episodes, music videos, and even full-length movies from Hulu. Finally, for those who like to window shop, Cooliris also has a feature that lets you shop for products visually.

You can also use Cooliris directly on hundreds of supported sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Google Images, or just about any site that uses Media RSS. How it works is that when you visit a supported site, say Google Images for example, a Cooliris icon will appear above images as you mouse over them. Click the icon and Cooliris will quickly display thousands of your search results on the single expansive 3D Wall. (See attached screenshots)

Please describe upcoming activities.
We’ll soon be releasing Cooliris 1.10, which will allow users to browse photos and videos stored on their computer hard drive, among many other useful features and enhancements.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Interview with Michael Clifford, SignificantFederation - Innovators in E-Learning Series

Welcome to an interview with Dr. Michael K. Clifford, SignificantFederation, whose company invests in post-secondary education companies. E-Learning Queen is committed to providing insights into the world of education - public, private, and not-for-profit. Insights into how education is supported are more important than ever, given the multiple shocks sustained by the global economy. E-Learning Queen welcomes reader questions and comments.

What is your name, your position, and your affiliation and what is your involvement in private equity?

Dr. Michael K. Clifford, Chairman, SignificantFederation, a principal investor in post-secondary education companies.

What is your company, and what is its mission and vision?

The link to the company is Our mission is to provide ethical business and financial strategies as principal investors in online education companies.

What do you identify as the key new trends in start-up for-profit educational institutions?

For the investment community, there is an unprecedented opportunity to collect valuable assets in a distressed market while doing something good for peopleʼs lives.

This is due in part to the financial pressure on traditional non-profit universities resulting from endowment portfolios income reduced in excess of 50 percent, major donor contributions did not come in at the end of the year at 2008 as scheduled due to market conditions, and reduced state subsidies; this, combined with an increase of enrollment demand has created the perfect storm for investors in post-secondary education.

Dr. Michael Clifford, SignificantFederation

Investors partnering with savvy, experienced executives, especially those elite online degree experts (which are few), have an unprecedented opportunity to step in and provide saving grace to the non-profit universities who are hitting the wall financially at this time.

A key trend is that these investors, like myself, will be able to maintain the traditional mission statement of an established institution by injecting best practices, especially in the area of financial accountability, enhancing faculty involvement in the operations, introducing cost-saving technologies, and providing astute marketing to properly exploit these established brands in their region.

A robust online operation is the billion dollar endowment of the future for these schools. Thanks to the regulators at the Department of Education and the accrediting agencies, the level of quality educational degrees has continued to increase while these regulatory bodies have made access a priority in their support of the institutions going forward.

How do private, for-profit institutions assure students of a high-quality, flexible curriculum that includes general education as well as their major area of study?

Market-driven institutions, whether they be for profit or non-profit, are governed by regulators to ensure high quality flexible curriculum that includes general education and relevant real world areas of study. However, the Academy needs to review the traditional Gen Ed that requires two or more years of a studentʼs time while adding a burdensome 50 percent to the cost of a relevant degree. Faculty need to understand that in this new economy they must be focused on cutting costs to the student and their family and all the other funding contributors such as the Department of Education, corporate America, and grandparents, in order to get the student through to a degree and on a career path for all parties involved.

Have recent changes in the way online learners interact changed anything about private equity funding for for-profit colleges and universities? (social networking, twitter, wikis, multimedia, voice boards, etc.)

Everybodyʼs talking about social networking and ways to generate low cost leads. I donʼt think weʼre seeing much of an impact in that area yet, but we will. I believe private equity firms are just now waking up to the realization that market-driven opportunities in a non-profit and for profit education industry are unprecedented opportunities for diverse portfolio investments.

When one looks at a university, one actually sees a city with various investment opportunities. A university has real estate transactions, software and technology, curriculum design, human resource and career development opportunities, marketing and advertising, food services -- a whole gamut of industries that are spin-offs from what the university pays for to deliver the final services to a student.

Please list and describe a few key benefits of starting new institutions, or expanding using private equity funds. Do you have any case studies?

The real value creation for private equity investors is the strategic alliance or conversion of non-profit assets that have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in them over many, many years to unleash the value through strict discipline on the residential programs, combined with robust niche marketing for online degree programs.

I cannot find a sector in the investment community that is more robust. Combine this with the fact that weʼre helping people live better lives, it makes it a very meaningful investment opportunity.

Case in point, Grand Canyon University, which when we formed the strategic alliance with the non-profit board, was approximately $40 million in debt, had fewer than 1,000 students on the campus, dormitories with no air conditioning in Phoenix, Arizona, a swimming pool filled in with dirt, 22 lawsuits that the institution was bound to lose to vendors, and completely out of cash. Our group was the catalyst to bring in the money, the management, and the marketing to unleash the value of this 57 year-old Southern Baptist University based in Phoenix , Arizona . The result was a public offering November 20, 2008 that broke the longest dry spell in 33 years of IPOs. LOPE is rated the No. 1 IPO in 2008, with the stock up over 70 percent as of today.

Another case in point is the remarkable story of Bridgepoint Education, which filed its S1 prior to Christmas Eve. Bridgepoint Education began with ten employees in San Diego three years ago, now employing 1,500. Bridgepoint Education promises to be the most stunning IPO in 2009.

I am humbled that two companies I founded might indeed represent the best-performing IPOs in 2008-2009 back-to-back. This is a testimony to the need for working adults to go back to school to retool to compete in the global market during what some are calling the second Great Depression. During the last Great Depression, the government had people pick up shovels and build bridges. During this economic downturn, we need to get people back to school to learn so we as a nation can compete.

Please describe upcoming activities.

For the investment community, there are several conferences throughout the year that I would recommend, including the Credit Suisse conference, the BMO conference, Signal Hill conference and others. For the private equity investor, they are truly missing the boat by not learning about this space and the long legs it has into the next ten years.

Optional question: What do you think the stock market will do in the next 18 months? How about the price of oil? Do you think that "contango" situations in commodities will affect pricing -- obscuring the fundamentals (yet again)?

Nobody can predict the stock market, especially in today's economy. Personally, I do not believe the traditional fundamentals can be counted on any more because of the global financial wheeling and dealing that is taking place. It is my belief that until post-secondary education institutions begin to turn out business MBA students who have a strong moral compass and can make ethical decisions on Wall Street, our financial markets will continue to spiral down in uncertainty. The No. 1 comment I hear from CEOs of the Fortune 1000 is the fact that they cannot hire MBA students in business that have a strong principled decision-making process of what is right and what is wrong because they have been taught that greed is No. 1 and beating the competition is most important.

We have tried to institute in all of our institutions a strong charitable component of service by giving of our time, talents and treasures back to the community in which we serve. It is my feeling that until profitable companies get serious about giving back to our society we will continue to have this type of financial turmoil in the markets.

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