Follow up to eCollege concerns

11/11/08


I want to make a follow-up post to my previous post regarding the letter we sent to eCollege Now removed by request of eCollege.

  • Our letter/my post was in NO WAY a slam or a complaint regarding the people that we work with at eCollege. All of the individuals are great and we have a good relationship with the people. The concerns we outlined are technology concerns. eCollege as a software program, just isn't DOING what other software programs are doing (in this case what other LMSs are).
  • I understand that "higher ed" is eCollege's bread and butter. I understand that we are some little tiny school with just a handful of enrollments. But, we pay a lot (given our operating budget) for the enrollments we do use. The purpose of our letter was to highlight just how many of our needs are not being met with a product that is basically built for higher ed.
  • When we started our school over five years ago, there were no LMSs available that had K12 customers in mind that were a viable solution. We looked at Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, and so forth. eCollege was very attractive for several reasons:
    • ASP model--I didn't want to run my own servers, backup, internet access, etc...
    • public company, had been in the game a long time, industry leader
    • willing and able to help us start and grow our program
    • service and support for students, staff, admin, and tech
  • I don't think we could have made a better decision at the time because the products that are available today just weren't around five years ago.
I believe what has happened during that time frame is that K12 online learning exploded and many new products came onto the scene. eCollege was focusing on their core client base, higher ed. I can't blame them for that. eCollege needed to pay the bills and higher ed was writing the checks. I understand.

What is going on now is a growing gap in functionality that the new products are able to provide. These new products (Angel, D2L, Go Course, Maestro, etc...) benefited from their predecessors like eCollege, BlackBoard, and WebCT, who provided a solid base of functionality. They were able to take that base and add specific K12 needs that just don't exist in higher ed. They also didn't have a huge client base to keep happy while developing their new products. They were free to experiment and develop with a handful of K12 customers.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not upset with people at eCollege. I understand how we got to where we are today. But these concerns need to be addressed. These functionality issues need to be addressed in order for eCollege to attract new K12 customers. These functionality issues need to be addressed in order to keep existing K12 customers who may have contracts that are going to expire.

We are ready, willing and able (especially myself) to work with eCollege on adding some of the functionality we outlined in our letter.

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