Indianapolis-based, IU-backed learning management system company moves into North American market

  • Oct. 24, 2016


INDIANAPOLIS -- CourseNetworking, an Indianapolis-based global learning management system company, has set its sights on the North American market, having established itself in Southeast Asia.

The company has hired Peter Eliason, a sales leader and top revenue producer with international experience and expertise in growing global sales opportunities, as vice president of sales. Previously, he was international sales manager for Kurzweil Education.

Eliason brings a history of success in building strong, long-term business relationships and creative marketing programs to drive revenue and profitability, said Ali Jafari, who founded CourseNetworking with seed funding and intellectual support from Indiana University.

Jafari, considered one of the pioneers in envisioning and developing new e-learning systems and teaching methods, is a professor of computer information technology in the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and director of CyberLab, also on the IUPUI campus.

CyberLab, which engages students and scholars in developing new educational technology, makes CourseNetworking the only for-profit learning management system with a research and development lab in the middle of a college campus. CourseNetworking, headquartered in Indianapolis, has its professional development office in China.

CourseNetworking continues to hold its unique position as a company created and owned by academics that is developing and marketing learning software by educators for educators.

With offices in Indianapolis, Malaysia and China, CourseNetworking offers a global, academic social-networking site with unique, next-generation technology solutions for learning and collaboration. Its product line includes a full learning management system, a plug-in tool called CN Post, a social e-portfolio and perpetual open-source licenses. Large institutions and states may license the software and its intellectual property for life, with options of owning the source code.

"At Indiana University, we are using the CN Post as a plug-in to the Canvas learning management system to allow students to reach beyond the boundaries of the classroom to connect with other students studying similar topics," said Stacy Morrone, associate vice president for learning technologies, dean of information technology and professor of educational psychology at IUPUI.

The difference between CourseNetworking and other learning management systems is its ability to engage students, Jafari said. That engagement stems from its concept: a learning management system that looks and feels like Facebook.

In addition to its Facebook-like social aspects of informal communication through posts, CourseNetworking engages students with key features such as gamification, engagement analytics, badges and recognition by both teachers and peers of students' academic work, Jafari said.

The company's move into the North American market follows the opening of its first office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2014. Southeast Asia offered the fledgling firm better sales opportunities than did the U.S., where large learning management system companies dominate the market, Jafari said.

Since opening the Malaysian office, CourseNetworking has entered into licensing agreements with institutions in Southeast Asia. Among them is Nanyang Technological University, a comprehensive and research-intensive university in Singapore. In the 2016 QS World University Rankings, it was ranked 13th in the world and second in Asia.

Having refined its products to address privacy issues that arise with the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, CourseNetworking is ready to compete in North America with what Jafari believes, based on feedback data from users, is the most "student centric" learning environment on the market today.

Richard Schneider