A Note from Pat Cassella, executive director US Distance Learning Association — We are incredibly grateful to our partners and sponsors who support USDLA and provide insight and education to our members about exciting developments in the distance learning community. Please scroll down to read about these organizations. — Pat, email@example.com
USDLA Gold-level Sponsors
D2L: Transforming the Way the World Learns — D2L is a global learning innovation company helping organizations reshape the future of education and work. We’re leading the way into the era of personalized learning, driven by the belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality education, regardless of age, ability, or location. Learn more at D2L.com
Instructure: The Makers of Canvas — But we’re not only the makers of a leading learning management system. We’re an education technology company with a mission to elevate student success, amplify the power of teaching, and inspire everyone to learn together. Sparked in 2008 by two enterprising grad students, Instructure is the home of Canvas LMS and the Instructure Learning Platform that benefits millions of students and teachers worldwide every single day. Learn more at instructore.com.
JDL Horizons: Distance Learning and School Communications — Thomas Lapping, CEO, says: “Our team brings decades of experience in education and technology to provide products and services that benefit the K-12 education market. Our goal is to use the power of video to enhance community relationships and communication and to enhance teaching and learning through engaging and productive learning experiences. We always go the extra mile to help our clients because your results truly matter to us.” Learn more at jdlhorizons.com.
Logitech: Founded in 1981, and headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, Logitech International is a Swiss public company listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (LOGN) and the Nasdaq Global Select Market (LOGI). Logitech helps all people pursue their passions by designing experiences so everyone can create, achieve, and enjoy more. Logitech designs and creates products that bring people together through computing, gaming, video, streaming and creating, and music. Brands of Logitech include Logitech, Logitech G, ASTRO Gaming, Streamlabs, Blue Microphones and Ultimate Ears. Learn more at logitech.com.
Poly: Solutions for Education — Look and sound incredible from anywhere. Poly’s professional-grade video, phone, and headset solutions offer new and improved interaction with students and colleagues. As classrooms continue to evolve — so do Poly classroom solutions. Our video, voice and content sharing products and services empower educators to adapt to the changes and deliver exceptional learning experiences, in and out of the classroom. Learn more at poly.com.
Tennessee State University: Founded in 1912 after its organization in 1909 as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School, Tennesee State is designated as a “high research” institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, Tennessee State strives for excellence in programming, offerings, and community engagement. It is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. It is designated as a “high research” institution. Learn more at tnstate.edu.
TEDU: Learning Support System — TEDU’s Learning Support System centralizes your academic support offerings into one student and administrative-facing platform, increasing accessibility, participation, and data while substantially reducing program facilitation costs by improving efficiency. The TEDU LSS Tutor Center Module is designed from the ground up to reduce many of the challenges faced by your staff in facilitating a tutoring and writing center while providing more inclusive accessibility and functionality for your students. Learn more at tedu.app.
Verizon: Technology is key to the education evolution — The rise of distance and hybrid learning has brought the importance of digital equity to the forefront. Whether learning in the classroom or remotely, students depend on technology to help them keep pace and excel. And educators depend on technology to offer students a consistent and effective learning experience. Verizon’s network, collaboration, and communication offerings provide the digital tools to help students engage, connect, learn, and succeed. Discover our solutions to fit your educational needs, including strong internet networks, collaboration software for communication, and security tools to protect sensitive information. Learn more at verizon.com.
SPONSOR SHOUT OUTS
IntelliBoard: A cutting-edge company comprising data-loving, education-focused, and care-centric folks brilliant in the skills they bring to you.
Q&A with IntelliBoard’s Chief Operating Officer: Tonya Riney
USDLA: Tell us about IntelliBoard!
Tonya: IntelliBoard was founded in 2015 by Anatoliy Kochnev, a naturalized American citizen with a keen eye for learning software! He started his foundational work with the Moodle LMS, which eventually progressed to serving Moodle LMS users with “reporting.” From there, the IntelliBoard platform morphed into a dynamic, multi-faceted platform that brings learning data and analytics to institutions using Blackboard Learn (Anthology), Brightspace | D2L, Canvas, and Moodle-based LMSs. It utilizes 3 distinct features:
- Within IntelliBoard, different sources of learning data (e.g., the LMS, the SIS, and other learning tools) can be combined to create a holistic picture of learners, teaching effectiveness, and aggregated institutional effectiveness
- With so much data available, IntelliBoard’s predictive learning AI can create truly accurate models – far better than those based on only a single set of data
- Mountains of data are useless unless those who can create change are armed with the knowledge via notifications based on sets of conditions or criteria to impact that change, such as retention, at-risk learners, courses and/or instructors in jeopardy, and financial aid compliance.
USDLA: What need are you filling in the distance learning industry?
Tonya: Distance learning and/or blended learning were strong educational approaches before the pandemic; post-pandemic, these approaches were thrust into being primary methodologies in a world where education must be accessible to all people. IntelliBoard is the platform that makes learning tangible. If I am a college professor in a f2f classroom, I don’t necessarily need to know that “Johnny is struggling.” I can see it in action. Within distance learning, as leaders, we don’t always have access to the various inputs that could help us help Johnny and others like him/her. IntelliBoard provides insights not previously possible within the LMS alone.
USDLA: What have been your biggest challenges?
Tonya: Like any other company, managing growth is always challenging.
USDLA: What are some of your big wins?
Tonya: Our new platform is amazing. What our clients are doing with it has been mind-blowing and more than we could have ever expected.
USDLA: Who is your ideal client?
Tonya: Any institution focused on quality enhancement, federal and state funding, at-risk learners, right-sizing, reputation, and the future of learning.
USDLA: How has USDLA been helpful in your efforts?
Tonya: USDLA is the association that promotes eLearning/distance learning initiatives. From webinars, conferences, and everything else you do, you have the best interests of learning, practitioners, and institutions at the heart of it.
USDLA: What does the future look like for IntelliBoard?
Tonya: We’re pretty darn excited about our new platform, and we anticipate strong growth in the years forward as more and more institutions learn what they can do with their learning data!
Click here to learn more: https://intelliboard.net
Logitech: Founded in 1981, and headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, Logitech International is a Swiss public company listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (LOGN) and the Nasdaq Global Select Market (LOGI). Logitech helps all people pursue their passions by designing experiences so everyone can create, achieve, and enjoy more. Logitech designs and creates products that bring people together through computing, gaming, video, streaming and creating, and music. Brands of Logitech include Logitech, Logitech G, ASTRO Gaming, Streamlabs, Blue Microphones and Ultimate Ears.
A Q&A with Roseanne Cohen, Industry Solutions Marketing Manager: With more than 25 years of experience in the voice and video communication market, Roseanne is responsible for developing and executing Logitech’s strategy to align its core competencies, innovative market-driving technologies and solutions to help public sector customers solve their most critical collaboration and productivity challenges. Ms. Cohen is an active member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing Management from East Carolina University. Click here to meet Roseanne on LinkedIn.
USDLA: Logitech has a long history. Tell us about some of your most popular innovations.
Roseanne: Logitech has been innovating since its inception in 1981 when we designed the world’s first computer mouse. It was a watershed moment for the tech industry and computing because we made it much easier for people to interact in the digital world. From there, Logitech created some of the most popular computer peripherals in history, including keyboards, webcams, headsets, and gaming solutions.
Since then, Logitech has become synonymous with a flawless webcam experience with products that have become the standard in nearly every industry worldwide. Today, Logitech has grown into the world’s largest supplier of webcams and video conferencing room cameras and remains at the forefront of innovation with our cutting-edge products.
Our efforts in this area include the development of the Logitech Scribe whiteboard camera, and Logi Dock, the foundation for a seamless instructor station or personal workspace, as well as the incorporation of more intelligence into our video bars using artificial intelligence (AI) such as Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini. Most recently, Logitech unveiled two new products, the Brio 505 webcam with Show Mode, which is perfect for instructors that want to tilt the camera down to show sketches, work in progress, or other objects, and the Zone Vibe headphones, designed to meet the evolving needs of hybrid workers.
USDLA: Please tell us about the unfulfilled need in the industry.
Roseanne: We’ve heard from our customers that there have been challenges in creating equitable collaboration experiences with the transition to hybrid work and learning. Logitech answered the call by announcing a new product called Logitech Sight. It is a new tabletop camera that uses AI and works in tandem with our front-of-room video bars to give remote participants a more inclusive experience. The result is a system that provides users with a more realistic and engaging experience. Logitech Sight will be available in mid-2023, and this announcement will help customers plan for evaluations and room redesigns.
USDLA: What have been Logitech’s biggest challenges?
Roseanne: Logitech has been a leading innovator for over 40 years with a passion for making people’s lives better through technology. Our biggest challenges have always been pushing the boundaries of innovation, developing groundbreaking products that make people’s lives easier and finding new ways to delight our customers.
USDLA: What are the company’s big wins?
Roseanne: Logitech has recently seen significant success thanks to several key factors. Firstly, Logitech has built a strong brand identity synonymous with quality and reliability, which has helped us win many loyal customers. Secondly, the company has an extensive product range that covers all price points and meets the needs of both consumers and businesses alike. Finally, Logitech has a strong track record of innovation, regularly releasing new products with unique features and benefits. Thanks to these big wins, Logitech is well-positioned for continued success in the years ahead.
USDLA: Who is your ideal client, and how have you grown the business in recent years?
Roseanne: Logitech’s products facilitate learning in various settings to meet the ever-growing and changing needs within the education market and training communities. Our ideal clients appreciate quality, durability, and performance in their technology investments. Logitech products are designed to meet the needs of demanding users, and we have a reputation for delivering on our promises. As a result, Logitech products are often chosen by power users and professionals across all industries who need reliable, high-performing gear. In addition, Logitech’s customers tend to be early adopters who recognize cutting-edge technology and appreciate affordability. This makes Logitech a go-to choice for those who want the latest and greatest. Ultimately, Logitech’s clients value quality, innovation, and performance.
USDLA: How has USDLA been helpful in your efforts?
Roseanne: USDLA has played an important role in helping Logitech reach customers focused on training at a distance through its vast network of members and affiliates. USDLA’s advocacy for distance learning has helped increase awareness of Logitech’s products and solutions amongst key decision-makers in the education space. In addition, the annual conference provides a great platform for us to showcase our latest innovations and connect with institutions from all over the United States. Logitech has also celebrated Distance Learning Week with USDLA over the past 2 years by curating speakers and content to share with our growing community. We are proud to be a USDLA corporate member and look forward to continuing to work together to promote distance learning worldwide.
USDLA: What does the future look like for Logitech?
Roseanne: Logitech is optimistic about the future. We continue to invest in research and development, and our products are well-regarded by consumers, businesses, and public sector customers. In addition, we continue to innovate and expand our product portfolio to meet changing needs in the global market. As the demand for hybrid workspaces, flexible learning modalities, and eSports continues to grow, Logitech is well-positioned to continue its success for many years.
A note from Gerry Hanley, executive director of Merlot.org: If you haven’t used our service yet, I am thrilled to introduce you to the MERLOT project, which began in 1997 when the California State University Center for Distributed Learning developed and provided free access to MERLOT: www.merlot.org. Under the leadership of Chuck Schneebeck, CSU-CDL’s Director, MERLOT was modeled after the NSF-funded project, “Authoring Tools and An Educational Object Economy (EOE).” Led by Dr. James Spohrer and hosted by Apple Computer and other industry, university, and government collaborators, the EOE developed and distributed tools to form communities engaged in building shared knowledge bases of learning materials.
In 1998, a State Higher Education Executives Organization/American Productivity and Quality Center (SHEEO/APQC) benchmarking study on faculty development and instructional technology selected the CSU-CDL as one of the six best practices centers in North America. Visitations to the CSU-CDL by higher education institutions participating in the benchmarking students resulted in interest in collaborating with the CSU on the MERLOT project. The University of Georgia System, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the University of North Carolina System, and the California State University System created an informal consortium representing almost one hundred campuses serving over 900,000 students and over 47,000 faculty. SHEEO was the coordinator for the cooperative of the four state systems.
In 1999, the four systems recognized the significant benefits of a cooperative initiative to expand the MERLOT collections, conduct peer reviews of the digital learning materials, and add student learning assignments. Each system contributed $20,000 in cash to develop the MERLOT software and over $30,000 in in-kind support to advance the collaborative project. The CSU maintained its leadership and responsibilities for the operation and improvement of processes and tools.
In January 2000, the four systems sponsored 48 faculty from Biology, Physics, Business, and Teacher Education (12 faculty from each of the four systems) to develop evaluation standards and peer review processes for online teaching-learning material. In April 2000, other systems and institutions of higher education were invited to join the MERLOT cooperative. In July 2000, twenty-three (23) systems and higher education institutions had become Institutional Partners of MERLOT. Each Institutional Partner contributed $25,000 and in-kind support for eight faculty and a project director (part-time) to coordinate MERLOT activities. The CSU continued its leadership and responsibilities for the operation and improvement of processes and tools.
Cheers to the power of Merlot: www.merlot.org.
Yellowdig: A community-driven active learning platform adopted by more than 130 colleges and universities, K12 schools, and corporate training clients, Yellowdig’s goal is to transform every classroom into an active social and experiential learning community. Learn all about it at yellowdig.com.
Please scroll down for our Q&A with the company’s founder and CEO, Shaunak Roy. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Bombay and completed his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before founding Yellowdig, Shaunak spent a decade advising global companies on technology strategy and growth.
USDLA: Tell us about Yellowdig. What inspired you to create it? What need did you see being unfulfilled in the industry?
Shaunak: Yellowdig aims to transform classrooms through organic student-led learning communities. Yellowdig is not a bolt-on or a tool but a learning platform that powers better learning and high-impact instruction while saving valuable faculty time. It does this by moving students from receivers of knowledge to finders and creators of knowledge and providing a modern learning experience. This shift leads to a deeper level of student and faculty engagement, better academic outcomes, and better student retention outcomes. The platform can be easily integrated within your existing learning environments with 1-click access for your students. The platform enables real-time attendance tracking learning analytics for instructors and administrators and supports your compliance requirements.
USDLA: What Inspired you to create Yellowdig?
Shaunak: I grew up in a modest financial background in India. If you know South Asian culture, a good education is not a choice but almost a must-have for most families. I did what I had to go get a great education. I was fortunate to go to some of the best universities in the world. Although I’m curious and enjoy learning, sitting in classrooms was sometimes quite painful. The courses I enjoyed the most were where the teacher involved me in discussions, ideations sharing learning by doing, etc. In those learning environments, I learned as much from my talented peers as I did from the professors.
USDLA: You went to college in the 2000s when active learning was time-consuming to implement.
Shaunak: That’s right. My professors could only interact with you when you were in the classroom. But now technology is everywhere, and social media is around the clock. Our mission is to use the best of technology to turn every classroom into an active learning community irrespective of the topic mode of delivery or age group a community-driven active learning environment.
USDLA: You and your team identified that students are not building relationships and connections in their learning environments. And you came up with a great solution!
Shaunak: Yes. Too often, learning has looked like a solo endeavor, even when there are elements like discussion boards where instructors assign students to “Post once and comment twice” because they are writing mini-essays to their instructor, not conversing. Real connections to peers and instructors are vital to student success and retention.
USDLA: What have been your biggest challenges?
Shaunak: The first product we launched when I was an excited new entrepreneur did not get the engagement we expected. At first, I thought I failed, but then we realized that is a common problem that platforms struggle with, and that led to the development of our patented point system, which is the key to our engagement now. The only failures are those you don’t find a way to learn and grow from.
USDLA: What are your biggest wins?
Shaunak: Big wins include seeing our clients succeed. We love when our clients report successful gains in student grades and favorable instructor reviews in part due to Yellowdig retention and student persistence gains and overall successful programs.
USDLA: Who is your ideal client?
Shaunak: We love working with innovative institutions that are excited to embrace new pedagogy and track results of their new changes. We enjoy working with clients who see the value in a connected learning experience from admission to graduation. We’ve enjoyed working with USDLA to meet wonderful people at their conference and through hosting webinars together.
USDLA: What does the future look like for Yellowdig?
Shaunak: It looks connected! We will continue to work with our partners to create a connected learning experience for their learners. We continue to grow yearly and are working to create a movement around Education 3.0: Connecting the Learning Experience. Join us!
USDLA: Thank you so much for your time today, Shaunak! Best of luck with your organization. We look forward to sharing more about your success with our members.
About Yellowdig: In 2014, Yellowdig’s CEO and founder Shaunak Roy knew he wanted to start a company that mattered. As Facebook and other social media technologies took over the social connectivity scene, he saw an opportunity to leverage this idea of social sharing through technology, specifically in sharing academic ideas and knowledge. As Shaunak looked back on his academic days (he went to undergrad at IIT Bombay and postgrad at MIT), he realized that he learned as much from his peers as he did from his brilliant professors. Some of the bonds he created with his peers lasted well beyond those formative years and morphed into lifelong friendships. Click here to learn why online learning communities drive deeper learning, energize faculty and increase retention: Yellowdig.co.
VYOPTA: The Collaboration Intelligence company is a global leader in comprehensive monitoring and analytics for Collaboration Performance Management and Workspace Insights. By integrating insights from multi-vendor Unified Communications & Collaboration vendors and IOT devices, the Austin, TX-based company helps organizations deliver the best UC user experience and optimize their UC and real estate investments. Vyopta helps hundreds of organizations worldwide spanning 20+ industries monitor 6 million endpoints and over 20 billion meeting minutes a year.
Scroll down for our Q&A with Alfredo Ramirez, the company’s president, CEO, and founder.
USDLA: Your company announced last February that the Vyopta Partner Community grew by 75 percent in 2020, as has become integrated into its partners’ broader IT and UC managed service offerings. Tell us about that amazing accomplishment.
Alfredo: Programmatic support for MSPs has led to a 200 percent increase in the number of MSP partners. Indeed, our Partner Program allows Certified Partners to deploy Vyopta on behalf of their customers, many in the Global 2000.
USDLA: To support the Vyopta reselling and managed service partner community, you held an inaugural Collaboration Intelligence Partner Summit to educate and empower our global partner ecosystem.
Alfredo: Yes. The event was held virtually on March 4, 2021. It included three educational and interactive sessions that are customized to executive, sales, and sales engineering audiences.
USDLA: As you know, next week USDLA is about to celebrate its 35th anniversary at our National Convention in Nashville and look forward to showcasing Vyopta . What is it that you’d like our members to know about your company?
Alfredo: We have seen that when partners, and ultimately customers, understand Vyopta’s value proposition, it becomes an exciting conversation about what’s possible, and the opportunities are endless. We help our partners deliver higher value solutions while attaining high gross margin recurring revenue subscription sales. We also continue to drive customer revenue retention and expansion through aggressive product innovation.
USDLA: Thank you so much for your time and insights, Alfredo. We look forward to introducing you and Vyopta to our thousands of members at the 2022 USDLA National Convention. We’ll see you there!
About Alfredo Ramirez: A seasoned entrepreneur with direct experience in building early-stage software technology companies, which is why he proudly serves Vyopta as CEO and Co-Founder. A nod to his passion for pushing the button of innovation, Alfredo previously co-founded Vitalz (a venture backed enterprise software company acquired by Oracle) and Daman Consulting. He also held positions at Andersen Consulting (Accenture) and Trilogy Software and as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Reddwerks Corporation. He holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. Learn more at Vyopta.com.