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@tlantis® Learning Management System (LMS)


Business Plan


Target Market – Early Adopters, Educators, Creatives, Entrepreneurs, and Thought Leaders.


Helping People Thrive in a 21st Century Digital World!


A flexible, dynamic lifelong LMS – Learning Management System

@lantis® is the “Brand.”

The Problem @lantis® solves is Information Management.

The @lantis® Brand stands for Quality Actionable Information.

The Product is the @lantis® Learning Management System.

@lantis® differentiator – deliver the best Learning Management System through – focused, filtered, dynamic, multi-media, and personalized micro-nuggets. 


Table of Contents

  • Marketing Plan
    • Market Analysis
    • Competition – Direct, Indirect & Competitive advantages.
    • Customer Profile
    • Market Size, Sales Projections
    • Sales Strategy
    • Advertising
    • Public Relations
    • Pricing/Promotions
    • Distribution

Executive Summary

  • The “Intent” of the @lantis® Brand is to create and deploy a multi-media, dynamic, personalized, and hyper-connected Learning Management System (LMS) to improve the ability of the individuals in the community to make better choices.
  • @lantis® fills the virtually universal need to prevent information overload by providing Actionable Information Personalized to the Users Unique Context.  
  • @lantis® succeeds because it builds on our current “State-of-the-Art” understanding of: Cognitive, Information, Education, Computer, Communication & Telecommunication Science to build effective LMSs.
  • The Target Market is Early Adopters – Educators, Creatives, Entrepreneurs, and Thought Leaders.
  • The measure of success is when the community members tell their friends that the @lantis® Learning Communities are a great way to make better choices.


Vision & Measure of Success

The @lantis Brand has ONE principal vision; help our communities thrive by providing the best possible “Learning Environment” to discover new knowledge and make that knowledge available to others.

The best “Learning Environment” is one that, while taking advantage of traditional onsite classrooms and conferences, uses the Internet, Cloud Databases, and Digital Libraries to facilitate collaboration, enhance knowledge acquisition, and improve information sharing.

The best “Learning Environment” 1) encourages collaboration, 2) facilitates interoperability, and 3) looks for distributed learning best practices.

The best “Learning Environment” provides the highest-quality education, training, informal learning, and just-in-time support, tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere.

@lantis is based on the premise, “A Rising Tide Rises All Ships.” The fundamental belief driving @tlantis is; helping “each of us” learn more helps “every one of us” learn more.  The result is everyone in the community benefits.  The question is why wouldn’t a community want to have the best possible educational systems?

The value of the @lantis brand is measured by its ability to support itself through the sale of its knowledge products (think of the Amish building furniture and supporting themselves through the sale of that furniture.)

Market Goals

@lantis will attract “Eyeballs” by offering a totally free service that:

  • Reduces information overload for the person using a Learning Community
  • Provides personalized and free “Just In Time” learning.
  • Satisfies the need to teach others about the things that are important.
  • Provide a safe and effective forum to discuss current affairs.
  • Offers A great place to get good advice.

@lantis will make money by:

  • Publishing Premium Reports and Classes
  • Personalized Skills Assessments (Grading)
  • Onsite training and classes
  • Licensing of the @lantis Copyrighted Learning Management System.

Benefit of community membership is:

  • Community Members gain a cost effective knowledge and advice source.
  • Members can be paid for the Intellectual Property (Classes and reports) they develop.
  • Community Members can get paid for personalized Skills Assessments and mentoring.
  • Community membership can be a valuable networking tool.

The @lantis value proposition is:

  • Provide a learning platform equal to or better than other learning platforms.
  • Validate existing knowledge through the use of “Knowledge Validation Algorithms.”
  • Discover new knowledge through research and collaboration.
  • Make knowledge available to others via multi-media; websites, videos, formal class instruction, speakers, blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, etc., and over mobile and fixed networks, whatever fits the end users needs.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOTs)

  • Strengths:
    • Because of my unique Personal, Academic, Telecommunications (Cloud) Industry, and Education Industry experience, I bring a unique “holistic” approach to Cloud based Learning Management Systems.  I know how the Internet works and I know how to manage webpages.  I know Information Management and how to maximize actionable information.
    • There is nothing really “Sticky” about LMS systems.  If a better system came along adoption is not terribly hindered.
  • Weakness:
    • I am only 1 person.  I need help.  I need help with core programing.  I need help with Content and SQL Management programing.
    • I don’t have a lot of money to put into development
  • Opportunities:
    • Everyone needs better education and networking.
    • There are many existing Learning Communities that would benefit from joining our network.
    • This is one of the fastest growing software sectors.  It is now a billion dollar plus industry with hundreds of competing offerings.
  • Threats:
    • All established educational organizations and Learning Management Systems Providers will threaten marketshare acquistion.

Basic Product Offered – A Learning Management System

Learning management systems are used by academic institutions and companies to manage, track, and deliver courses and training programs.  Below is list of some of the most popular options as measured by a combination of their total number of customers, active users, and online presence.

Click here for a detailed discussion of Learning Management Systems

 Management Team

Ira Gorelick – iragorelick.com, linkedin

Business Description and Vision


Business Vision

Goals and objectives

@lantis® History

Management Team
After reviewing this section the reader should know:

  • Who the business is and what it stands for.
  • Your perception of the company’s growth & potential.
  • Specific goals and objectives of the business.
  • Background information about the company.

Product Plan


Learning Management System

Actionable Information – Free & Premium

Skill Assessments

Pricing Model

Atlantis Learning Management System Pricing Model


Marketing Plan

  • Market Analysis
  • Competition
  • Customer Profile
  • Market Size, Sales Projections
  • Strategies for reaching or exceeding targeted sales levels
  • Sales Strategy
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • This section should:
  • Describe your business industry and outlook.
  • Define the critical needs of your perceived or existing market.
  • Identify your target market.
  • Provide a general profile of your targeted clients.
  • Describe what share of the market you currently have and/or anticipate.

After reviewing this section the reader should know:

  • Basic information about the industry you operate in and the customer needs you are fulfilling.
  • The scope and share of your business market, as well as who your target customers are.

Industry Description and Outlook — Describe your industry, including its current size and historic growth rate as well as other trends and characteristics (e.g., life cycle stage, projected growth rate). Next, list the major customer groups within your industry.

Information About Your Target Market — Narrow your target market to a manageable size. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to appeal to too many target markets. Research and include the following information about your market:

  • Distinguishing characteristics – What are the critical needs of your potential customers? Are those needs being met? What are the demographics of the group and where are they located? Are there any seasonal or cyclical purchasing trends that may impact your business?
  • Size of the primary target market – In addition to the size of your market, what data can you include about the annual purchases your market makes in your industry? What is the forecasted market growth for this group? For more information, see our market research guide for tips and free government resources that can help you build a market profile.
  • How much market share can you gain? – What is the market share percentage and number of customers you expect to obtain in a defined geographic area? Explain the logic behind your calculation.
  • Pricing and gross margin targets – Define your pricing structure, gross margin levels, and any discount that you plan to use.


Competitive Analysis — Your competitive analysis should identify your competition by product line or service and market segment. Assess the following characteristics of the competitive landscape:

  • Market share
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • How important is your target market to your competitors?
  • Are there any barriers that may hinder you as you enter the market?
  • What is your window of opportunity to enter the market?
  • Are there any indirect or secondary competitors who may impact your success?
  • What barriers to market are there (e.g., changing technology, high investment cost, lack of quality personnel)?


Definition of the Market

What to Include in Your Market Analysis



  1. Marketing and Sales Strategy

This section should:

  • Identify and describe your market – who your customers are and what the demand is for your products & services.
  • Describe your channels of distribution.
  • Explain your sales strategy, specific to pricing, promotion, products and place (4Ps).

After reviewing this section the reader should know:

  • Who your market is and how you will reach it.
  • How your company will apply pricing, promotion, product diversification and channel distribution to sell your products and services competitively.

Marketing & Sales Management

Marketing and Sales Strategies is Part 5 of your business plan. Marketing is the process of creating customers, and customers are the lifeblood of your business. In this section, the first thing you want to do is define your marketing strategy. There is no single way to approach a marketing strategy; your strategy should be part of an ongoing business-evaluation process and unique to your company. However, there are common steps you can follow which will help you think through the direction and tactics you would like to use to drive sales and sustain customer loyalty.

An overall marketing strategy should include four different strategies:

  • A market penetration strategy.
  • A growth strategy. This strategy for building your business might include: an internal strategy such as how to increase your human resources, an acquisition strategy such as buying another business, a franchise strategy for branching out, a horizontal strategy where you would provide the same type of products to different users, or a vertical strategy where you would continue providing the same products but would offer them at different levels of the distribution chain.
  • Channels of distribution strategy. Choices for distribution channels could include original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), an internal sales force, distributors, or retailers.
  • Communication strategy. How are you going to reach your customers? Usually a combination of the following tactics works the best: promotions, advertising, public relations, personal selling, and printed materials such as brochures, catalogs, flyers, etc.

After you have developed a comprehensive marketing strategy, you can then define your sales strategy. This covers how you plan to actually sell your product.

Your overall sales strategy should include two primary elements:

  • A sales force strategy. If you are going to have a sales force, do you plan to use internal or independent representatives? How many salespeople will you recruit for your sales force? What type of recruitment strategies will you use? How will you train your sales force? What about compensation for your sales force?
  • Your sales activities. When you are defining your sales strategy, it is important that you break it down into activities. For instance, you need to identify your prospects. Once you have made a list of your prospects, you need to prioritize the contacts, selecting the leads with the highest potential to buy first. Next, identify the number of sales calls you will make over a certain period of time. From there, you need to determine the average number of sales calls you will need to make per sale, the average dollar size per sale, and the average dollar size per vendor.




Learning Management System to Cross $10 Billion In Revenues By 2021 With Higher Education Segment Driving Majority Growth

Moodle is the major shareholder in the Brazilian LMS market in education sector with the share of 27.5% in 2015 followed by Santillana and Blackboard.

hyderabad, Oct. 27, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — According to the new report,”Learning Management System (LMS) Market: Modules (Collaborative Learning, (Content, Talent, Performance) Management) Vertical (Government, Corporate, Education Sector) Services (Hosting, Colocation, Authoring Tool, Payment Gateways, Others)-Forecast(2015-2020)“, published by IndustryARC, the market is estimated to cross $10 Billion in revenues by 2021.http://industryarc.com/Report/1259/learning-management-systems-market-analysis.html

A learning management system (LMS) is a software-based platform provides the necessary framework, infrastructure and tools which helps in providing online training or commonly known as e-Learning. This web-based technology allows the user to create, manage, distribute and track learning materials anywhere on any device. As the adoption of online learning and digital learning technologies increases, learning management systems providers will be at the forefront of this change and looking to capture a fast growing market. Though the conventional learning management systems market is close to maturity, the development of an online learning market, particularly based on social media technology provides new avenues for these companies to explore. LMS solutions such as Litmos, Canvas, Docebo and Latitude have witnessed impressive growth in recent years looking to capture this expanding market.

The global market for Learning management systems has remained dynamic and highly competitive with significant investments, mergers and acquisitions. Skillsoft and Providence Equity acquired leading companies such as SumTotal and Blackboard, respectively, in the last five years resulting in dramatic change in the competitive landscape. The dynamic nature of the market and highly competitive industry has resulted in a regionally varied market with the undercurrents of the market landscape highly evolving over the years. Despite the change in leading companies and lively market, the growing demand in the corporate sector will continue to drive the market forward.

Despite education being a major focus, the corporate industry will be the major driver behind the growth of the market. The manufacturing, healthcare and IT companies in particular have increasingly looked to utilize learning management systems for staff training as well as improving efficiency of their employees.

The majority of the learning management systems market for the corporate sector will be focused on companies in the $1M to $10M revenue range as the ease of usage and improved efficiency offered will allow the companies to enhance their employees abilities and efficiency without focusing on extensive review of their processes or training methods.


Decision Assistence Tool

At its core, an LMS could be a Decision Assistence Tool (DAT).  If one considers “Learning” something that helps you solve a problem, then all learning helps make better decisions.  The same filtering and focusing tools you use for LMS you can use for DAT.  

If an individual or a team needs to make a decision, they need the information and the skills to understand the information.

As demand for online education escalates, such systems and solutions will be critical to effectively handling the increased demand. The global LMS market was $3.3 billion in 2015 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 18.5% during 2016-2021, while the LMS market for Education as an end user was $678.7 million and by 2021 is estimated to be $2.02 billion globally with a CAGR of 20.2%. This growth will be derived to some extent from the expansion of the market in the emerging economic countries such as India, China, Brazil along with Eastern Europe.

South America, APAC and Eastern Europe offer strong growth potential for the LMS market with a number of local companies (such as Emeneo and Shezartec) being established to take advantage of this opportunity. The Brazilian LMS market in education sector for 2015 was $21.6 million and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 24.3% to reach $79.2 million by 2021. Cost saving through e-learning and increasing need of training coupled with technological advancements and the continued adoption of cloud technology are driving demand for the LMS in the country. Moodle is the major shareholder in the Brazilian LMS market in education sector with the share of 27.5% in 2015 followed by Santillana and Blackboard. The U.S will maintain its position as a leader in learning management systems driven by increased adoption in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. With education market heading towards maturation in North America and Western Europe, the corporate market will be the driving factor in these regions. Higher education in emerging countries continues to explore and embrace new learning platforms and elements in the country. The rising adoption of digital learning in such countries is another major factor driving the market. LMS providers in emerging countries have significant opportunities of enhancing their market share by offering LMS in local languages; user based content generation, user-friendly and with social media enabled learning.

At present, the corporate market accounts for the largest share in the learning management system market, driven by its increased usage in technological companies, followed by the education market. The governmental sector accounts for a low share in the market due to low penetration in utilities and transportation sectors.

The growing shift towards online or e-learning has created a rising demand for cloud based learning management systems. A number of companies have entered this competitive market in recent years to satiate the ever-rising need for improved educational tools and services.

Following key players were also covered as part of the market landscape analysis:

  • Moodle
  • Blackboard
  • D2L
  • Instructure
  • SumTotal
  • Docebo and Others

24x7 Learning Pvt. Ltd, ABSC Group Pty. Ltd, Active Mind Solutions, AJ Square Inc, Alchemy Systems, LP, Allantra Learning Technologies Corp, Allion Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, Amida Learning Consulting, Apixel Pty Ltd, Automatic Data Processing Inc, Aziksa, BaseCorp Learning Systems, BIS Training Solutions, BitKea Technologies, Blackboard Inc, Blue Sky Broadcast, BlueVolt, BrainShark, Brightspace, Chamilo Association, Coggno, Connect-i, Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc, CrossKnowledge, Desire2Learn Inc, Docebo NA, Eaglewood Systems Ltd, eCollege, Edmodo, EduBrite Systems, Educadium, Elearning Force, Entrenar, Evolve Technologies, eXact learning solutions, GlobalScholar and others.

Moodle vs BlackBoard – That is the Question

Even free LMSs like Moodle can require a significant IT investment, whereas premium LMSs like BlackBoard can end up paying for themselves in the long run. The numbers show a strong split between LMS choice depending on how limited a school’s student body is (and thus their resources). George Kroner, a former BlackBoard engineer, expresses surprise in “…seeing [Moodle] surpass Blackboard below the 2,500 FTE mark – I was actually kind of shocked to see that.” When choosing an LMS, we face a question: what is better – a free open-source solution which requires further development, or an expensive product which is ready out of the box? This question reveals two general investment factors: initial price and future cost of ownership. The market provides dozens of alternatives, but this article compares the two most popular solutions from each category: Moodle vs Blackboard. Regardless of the investment, a good LMS should be user-friendly, cost-effective, and suitable for the type of organization that uses it. Which LMSs are colleges and universities already using, and which new LMSs are they choosing? According to LISTedTECH, BlackBoard and Moodle dominate the market for current LMS usage, and they are both competing with Canvas LMS for new implementations (based on 912 new implementations in the past 5 years). Moodle is a powerful free solution, but tailoring it for your specific needs may require many hours of programming. BlackBoard is fully loaded, but expensive. Let’s compare:


Moodle is open-source software using the “freemium” payment model, which means that you get the basic elements for free, but must pay for extra options. According to recent surveys, it is one of the most popular LMSs, mostly used by institutions with between 1,000 and 2,000 full-time students. One of the main disadvantages of this system is that it’s very difficult to set up and fine tune. There are lots of companies that can help to set up the system and customize it, but their services are rather costly. Moodle is perfectly suited for common educational goals, but to implement it, a company should have at least one qualified IT specialist, plus a separate server and hardware. Moodle is free up front, but extra expenses may amount to $10,000/year, not including IT department salaries. The main features of Moodle:

  • Grade management
  • Student roster / attendance management
  • Assessment implementation
  • Discussion forums
  • Lesson planner
  • Collaboration management
  • File exchange
  • Internal messaging, live chat, wikis

Moodle offers special modules for creating courses (moodlerooms) which can be used in situ or migrated to another LMS. The main problem of this system is that it requires extra time and effort – up to 18-24 months – to customize and implement. If you can afford such time-consuming activities without any harm to your business, then Moodle is a great solution for your company. Here are a couple of reviews from Capterra which reflect the pros and cons of using Moodle:

Moodle is a nice alternative for those that are looking for a full-featured Learning Management System with a relatively low cost. It is often referred to as the free Learning Management System but it is free like a puppy where it comes with a lot of hidden costs such as maintenance, support, etc.. If you’re going to go with Moodle. I would recommend finding a trusted hosting provider such as Moodlerooms to help with all of those hidden costs. If so, you can have a cheaper alternative to some of the others that are out there, have a lot of functionality, and don’t have to worry about any of the behind the scenes stuff. The other benefit is you have access to a massive amount of documentation, how-to videos, and the community to help with anything you can imagine. — Aung Myint Myat , C.E.O at Trust Training Center

The best and worst thing about Moodle is it’s complexity – there are so many features and settings that you can make Moodle do and look like whatever you want, but it can be a bit overwhelming for a teacher new to using an LMS. However, the support community – both instructional and technical – is very responsive and helpful. Being open source, Moodle is continually being upgraded and integrates with many other digital tools. No other LMS compares to Moodle. — Fanny Passeport at Stonehill International School

Moodle is a great LMS but since it’s open-source, you have got to figure out many things. Even though the moodle.org forums are well maintained, it’s not always easy to get support on very specific questions. It’s a great tool if you have a great IT Support in place but if you are only a teacher, it’s not easy to administrate the LMS only by yourself. I like the immense possibilities in terms of delivering content and providing interactive materials but it’s not user-friendly and require long navigation. A great tool but could be improved. — Stephanie Weirich , Staff Developer at Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12

Overall, Moodle is a free and popular LMS, but it often requires customization, which can be very costly and time-consuming. One of its strong points is the active online learning communities and collaboration activities (Blackboard is deficient in this department).

  • PROS

    Free. Open source. Modular, plugin-based design enables administrators to add or create features as needed. Supports myriad activities, including peer assessment workshops, real-time messaging, and wiki forums. Generous progress tracking and reporting options. Unparalleled language support.

  • CONS

    Setup is by no means turnkey. UI lacks the visual finesse of paid alternatives.


    If you’re willing to shoulder some of the administrative burden, Moodle offers an entirely viable learning management service that is free, open source, and rapidly advancing.

An acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, Moodle is an educational Learning Management System (LMS) that enables educators to level up features with various instruction, assessment, and reporting modules. Suffice it to say, Moodle is not your typical learning management system. First and foremost, Moodle is free. As an open source initiative, the LMS can be customized or modified through modular, interoperable plug-ins, and commercial and non-commercial projects can be shared without any licensing fees.

Over the past dozen years, the platform has accumulated an active and far-reaching cohort of educators, learners, and developers. Having attracted nearly 90 million users in fields as wide-ranging as higher education (such as The Open University), medicine, and government from nations as varied as Spain, Russia, and Colombia, Moodle’s developer community has actively contributed to the project, including more than 120 language localizations.

Like other open source initiatives, Moodle entails compromises. Unlike a paid option such as Instructure Canvas the free version of Moodle is not turnkey. While administrators can enable advanced features such as Single Sign-On (SSO), they will need to perform granular configuration.

Unlike Blackboard Moodle assumes that administrators want to host their LMS, though there is a limited-scale hosted version available for a fee. Moodle lacks an integrated marketplace, but users can distribute paid courses via CourseMerchant or enroll in courses via Moodle.net.

In this sense, Moodle may not be a viable option for a lone faculty member who wants to create a blended version of a course; however, Moodle is an exciting alternative for educators who can ask a Faculty Technology Center or IT department to help configure, support, and administer their LMS.

Dashboard, Blocks, and Themes
Moodle’s Dashboard is organized around content blocks. By default, the Course overview block occupies the center of the screen, with left- and right-aligned blocks for navigation and news. Users can customize Dashboards by hiding, docking, deleting, adding, or moving blocks. If instructors get carried away, administrators can now reset Dashboards using a convenient “reset” button bundled with last fall’s Moodle 3.0 release.

Configuration requires practice, and even when you achieve your desired Dashboard, it isn’t exactly flashy. Moodle has about as much visual panache as Wikipedia.

Moodle offers two different themes. In addition to the standard theme (Clean), it provides a custom theme (More), through which administrators can tweak text and background colors and upload a custom logo or footer.

If you’re technically savvy, you can produce a fairly dynamic-looking page.

However you choose to tailor the look and feel of your LMS, you can count on it remaining accessible. In addition to compatibility with every major browser and device, the interface will soon be responsive. Moodle also offers mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Roles and Groups Administrators may choose from a variety of roles, which often overlap in complicated ways. At the highest level is the Site Administrator and Manager, followed by roles related to course assembly: Course Creator, Teacher, and Non-Editing Teacher. Whereas Teachers can add or edit content of existing courses, Non-Editing Teachers can only post grades; Course creation is reserved for, you guessed it, Course Creators. Finally, there are two different types of learners: Students can access and participate in courses, whereas Guests can only view courses. Educators can organize their learners using groups. The default mode of organization occurs at the Course level (editable via the Course administration menu), though educators can sort also learners at the Activity level. Activities, Assignments, and More Alongside groups and roles, Moodle supports blended and online courses with nearly two dozen course-related Activities. Similar to other LMS alternatives, Moodle allows administrators to upload SCORM packages as course content. In addition, however, Moodle offers an external tool through which administrators can add resources compliant with the IMS Global Learning Consortium Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard. In practical terms, that means a learner can share their Moodle course using Mozilla’s public Badges Backpack.

Most LMS alternatives include some kind of integrated message service or commenting tool. Moodle offers an all-of-the-above approach, with activities for conducting polls and surveys (Feedback or Survey), asynchronous discussion boards (Forum or Wiki), and synchronous discussions (Chat).

All communication flows through Moodle’s javascript text editor, Atto, which recently gained new mathematic capabilities (e.g. buttons for square roots, fractions, and vectors) and table-formatting controls (border styling, sizing, and colors).

In addition to submitting multiple choice or short responses, students can upload files such as documents, spreadsheets, images, audio, and video clips. (For sound and video files to load, an administrator will need to enable the Multimedia plug-ins filter). Moodle 3.0 brought a handful of new assessment options to the platform, including questions that involve dragging and dropping images, text, and markers. Teachers can comment on responses (Assignments) or organize a peer assessment activity (Workshop). Few LMS alternatives support peer review processes, and what I like about Moodle’s approach to the Workshop is that students can receive feedback on both their own work as well as their assessments of colleagues’ work. Also new with Moodle 3.0 are options to filter submissions using five different workshop phases and to visualize student progress using a new Workshop Planner tool.

Progress Tracking, Reporting, and Plug-Ins Moodle reporting can be augmented to satisfy the appetite of the most data-hungry administrator. By default, administrators can track learners’ progress related to activities, courses, or grades. However, baseline tracking can be greatly expanded through optional plug-ins: Administrators can add features such as progress bars, checklist modules, and even advanced integrations with Office365.

The same principle applies to reporting. In addition to course-level activity and participation reports, administrators can enable Statistics (via the Site Administration menu) to access user activity graphs and tables. Administrators can also run site-wide reports related to activity, performance, and security. If you crave still more reporting options, you may choose from dozens of plug-ins designed to address the most esoteric reporting queries, from listing all assignment files for a course or user (Assignment Files) to rendering a force-directed graph based upon a Forum activity (Forum Graph). In the past year, Moodle has greatly improved the interface for installing and upgrading plug-ins: Admins can now install extra features using the Moodle plug-in directory, an uploaded zip file, or manually at server level. There’s now an option to assign an upgrade key to prevent non-authenticated users from accessing the upgrade screen.

Jailbreaking the Educational LMS If you’re an administrator looking for a hosted LMS with 24/7 phone support and turnkey operation, Moodle is not for you. While MoodleCloud offers hosted plans that scale to 500 users (a bargain at $1,000 AUD annually), most institutions are going to need more accounts and dedicated support. You already knew this because you’re likely already committed to an alternative such as Blackboard or Canvas (in higher education) or Edmodo

If, however, you’re willing to assume some additional administrative duties, Moodle could save you a lot of money, and let you create exactly the LMS you want. Smaller colleges are already voting with their feet, and I suspect larger universities will follow.

Moodle provides an entirely viable education LMS that is free, open source, and rapidly advancing.

Universities deserve a choice, and I am eager to see Moodle, or some other organization that shares its values, jailbreak the educational LMS.


BlackBoard is an industry-leading LMS, comprehensive and flexible, but expensive. Detailed pricing information is not publicly available, but the cost depends on how many licenses you need. It has lots of schools on board already and is considered to be a great value for the money, especially for large institutions with a lot of resources. BlackBoard excels in course creation; an instructor can upload and manage all the materials s/he needs. However, if extra training or implementation services are required, it may be difficult to find and hire a qualified BlackBoard specialist. The main features of Blackboard:

  • Custom branding, fields and functionality
  • Exam engine
  • Multiple delivery formats
  • Administrative reporting
  • Course catalog
  • Data import/export
  • Grading
  • Individual plans
  • Student portal
  • Goal setting
  • Skills tracking

The system lacks collaboration features and doesn’t excel in email integration, but offers self-paced instruction methods and resource management. Here are a couple of reviews from Capterra which reflect the pros and cons of using BlackBoard:

I used blackboard as an online central hub for each class during my first couple years at the University of Mary Washington. Blackboard provided each teacher the ability to create diverse classes through their use of online tools such as blogs, online collaboration, and easy communication between professors, classmates, and participants in other classes of the same subject. These tools that Blackboard provided could have created an amazing classroom experience at home. However, blackboard was so complicated to use and had so many bugs that it became more of a hassle than a tool to be utilized. Posted materials would disappear or be locked out of nowhere. Blogs would stop refreshing. One time, a professors whole page was reset to blank over night. These things would always be quickly fixed but annoying nonetheless. — Braylyn Yancy at FLLC

Blackboard puts differently formatted information – pdf, simple data, hyperlinks, etc. – in one spot, but it can be more user friendly. The tools sections, in particular, is so full that it makes looking for the most basic thing a chore. Why, for example, are grades in the tools section? Emailing all members of a class is not prohibitively complicated, accessing course materials is not hard (though they tend to be organized in ascending order from the first thing posted to the last, which is annoying because typically a student would be looking for the latest course material first and not last), and all of the most necessary links – except for grades – are conveniently located on the side bar. — Matthew Allen, logistics support at Talbots

I used blackboard as a student at Georgetown. Professors differed in how the used the program – some would post a syllabus and forget about it, while others would post everything from grades to homework to multimedia and made ample use of features like the discussion board. Overall, I found it useful. Blackboard streamlined communication between me, my professors, and my classmates. I think Blackboard does feature a lot of “noise”, in the sense that it offers many tools both I and my professors never had a purpose for. — Monica Unzueta at Wyoming High School

Overall, Blackboard is perfect for educational institutions, but it is very expensive, takes a lot of time to sort all the software out, and is not convenient for businesses.



Payment model Freemium (open source) Proprietary
Course assignment Activity list on a single page Weekly activities tab
Managing content Automatic content management. Manual. You have to change settings every time.
Features/Plugins Limited options, you have to create new plugins and develop them Extra features are included in the price
Product/vendor model Many supporting companies and vendors Only one company to work with
Help options Forums, Knowledge Base Forms, Knowledge Base + Live Tech Support
Mobile friendly MoodlEZ iPad app for $2.99 and/or free MyMoodle app Free Blackboard Mobile app
Market share (2015) 22.98% 34.22%

You can also have a look at BlackBoard vs Moodle comparisons on G2Crowd and eLearning Roadmap. If you are looking for a multifunctional LMS, you can choose from the two above, but watch out for extra expenses for their customization and maintenance. In choosing the right LMS for you, we recommend you write a checklist of all your requirements. Give Moodle a try, have a look at a demo version of BlackBoard, and check if they fit your list. Tick the points if they are covered, and cross them out if they are not. Then you’ll have an idea of which system fits you better.

How to launch e-Learning faster?

If you are new to LMSs, it can be rather difficult to choose the best solution. A good strategy is to try an easy and affordable system and see which LMS features you need to meet your specific goals and build a complete learning experience. Try iSpring Learn – an easy-to-use platform for teaching students online. This cloud-based platform requires no installation. Once you create your account, you can immediately start developing your learning environment. iSpring Learn LMS collects detailed statistics on all aspects of the learning process and provides a powerful set of reports, so you can always track learners’ performance and analyze training effectiveness.

Is Blackboard Inc. really worth $3 billion?

I have a special interest in Blackboard. In 1995, I gave a grant of $25,000 from the university’s fund for distance education to a young, untenured associate professor named Murray Goldberg in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, to cover the costs of two of his research assistants who were finalising the development of WebCT, the first real LMS.  In 1999, WebCT was sold to ULT, who then in 2006 sold the product on to the current owners of Blackboard, Providence Equity Partners LLC, who further developed the product to its current state. So in a sense I was a midwife to Murray’s Blackboard baby. From a small acorn grows an oak.

So I was particularly interested when Reuters reported that:

Blackboard Inc… is exploring a sale that it hopes could value it at as much as $3 billion, including debt.

Now $3 billion is a lot of money for a company that specialises in software mainly for the higher education market. (It’s a lot of money for a company specialising in anything, for that matter). So what makes Blackboard think it is worth this amount to a buyer?

Blackboard Ultra

It’s probably no coincidence that Reuters reported this at the same time that Blackboard announced its new learning platform called Ultra. (Yes, groans from all the faculty who have just moved up to the latest version of Blackboard Learn). However, although I have not yet seen Ultra in operation, it is reported to be much more than just an LMS.  According to Brian Fleming, a senior analyst at Eduventures:

Ultra consists of an integration of three core products (Learn, Collaborate, and Mobile) into one coherent, responsive, and immersive platform. It includes a radically improved user experience (UX) and a number of improved workflows, including drag-and-drop capabilities, embedded grading tools, mobile communication features, and expanded analytics.

In other words, it’s more of a complete learning platform than an LMS. Fleming believes this makes Blackboard Ultra a:

product that is on par, if not prepared to outmatch, its most agile competitors (ahem, Canvas).

More importantly, according to Fleming,

Bb now has the foundation it needs to develop a comprehensive learning analytics platform unlike anything the education world has seen.

But before you rush out to buy Blackboard stocks, you might like to listen to this old midwife (especially as the company is private at the moment and isn’t publicly listed, so it has no stock to buy.)

Risks and opportunities

I’m not a financial analyst (for a good discussion of the financial aspects, see Phil Hill’s blog post), but I do know a bit about learning technologies, and here are some of the risks or challenges I see for Blackboard in the future that might influence whether or not you rush out to buy the stock of any company that buys Blackboard. (I doubt whether anyone actually contemplating buying Blackboard will read my little blog, but the advice is free.)

1. A maturing market 

There are signs that the rapid growth in online learning is beginning to slow down, if not flatten out. The Babson Surveys had been recording growth of between 10-20% per annum in online enrolments in the USA over the 10 years up to 2012. However, the U.S. Federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey showed an overall decrease in DE enrolments of 4% from 2012 to 2013. The biggest area was the for-profits, which declined by 17%. Even the Babson Survey recorded a slower growth rate in online enrolments in 2013.

There are technical reasons that make measuring the growth in online learning very difficult, and one year is not enough to determine a trend. However, the rate of students taking fully online courses in the USA (and Canada) is likely to slow in the future for two reasons:

  • there is a limit to the market for fully online studies and after 10 years of fairly large gains, it is not surprising that the rate now appears to be slowing down
  • as more and more courses are offered in a hybrid mode, students have another option besides fully online for flexible study.

However, offsetting this is the much bigger move to blended and hybrid learning, resulting in the use of online learning in campus-based classes. This is a much bigger overall market than the fully online student market, and has hardly been touched yet outside North America (Blackboard is actually used more for on-campus than fully online courses in the USA). As more and more institutions move to blended learning, so will the demand for software to support such course designs. So while the market is changing, the demand for some kind of platform to manage the online, and increasingly the on-campus components, is likely to continue well into the future. The market then may be maturing but there is still plenty of room for growth, especially internationally. At the same time, the product has to meet the demands of new blended course designs and not be merely an online platform somewhat adapted to use on campus. It remains to be seen whether Ultra can really respond to that requirement.

2. Increasing competition from other integrated platform providers

This is probably Blackboard’s most obvious (but not necessarily most serious) challenge. It is operating in a market with more than 50 direct competitors, and the list grows almost daily. Some of the later entrants, such as Instructure and Desire2Learn, have been taking a big bite out of Blackboard’s market in recent years. Learning platforms still require a relatively low-entry level of technology/software development and it is not difficult to design alternatives on the general theme. While Ultra certainly will help Blackboard to push back against its competitors, they too will not stand still in new software developments and approaches. So while the overall market may be maturing, the consolidation into two or three dominant players seems to be moving even further away.

3. Alternatives to course platforms

The design of Ultra in bringing together a range of disparate but proprietary products into one integrated, consolidated product or platform is being countered by moves to lighter, stand-alone, often ‘open’ technologies that the end-users (both teacher and learners) integrate on an ‘as needs’ basis. This can be seen particularly in the use of social media, such as blogs, wikis, You Tube videos, and mobile apps.

On the other hand, I have also argued elsewhere that the need for some kind of platform that enables learning materials to be stored and organised, limits access to registered students and appropriate teaching staff, provides secure assessment and learning analytics, and offers a central, single location for student work, is not likely to go away well into the future.

The question though is whether the kind of proprietary system such as Ultra is the best way to provide such a platform. Open source solutions such as Canvas and WordPress provide more flexibility and allow more easily for future technology developments and new teaching approaches to be incorporated.

Watch this space

These arguments of course may be actually just academic. No-one has yet made an offer and although suggestions have been made that Oracle, Microsoft or some other company with data-based products might be interested, Blackboard sits in a fairly small, niche market.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see how many institutions, having made the investment in Blackboard Learn or some other LMS, are willing to go through the major upheaval needed to move to a new platform such as Ultra. If I had $3 billion to spend, I’d wait and see – but then that’s why I don’t have $3 billion in the first place.

Exclusive: Education company Blackboard seeks $3 billion sale – sources

Blackboard Inc, a U.S. software company that provides learning tools for high school and university classrooms, is exploring a sale that it hopes could value it at as much as $3 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Blackboard’s majority owner, private equity firm Providence Equity Partners LLC, has hired Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) to run an auction for the company, the people said this week.

Blackboard has annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of around $200 million, some of the people added.

Two of the people said that Blackboard could fetch a valuation between 14 times to 17 times EBITDA, up to $3.4 billion, based on current multiples of subscription-based software companies.

The sources asked not to be identified because the sale process is confidential. Providence Equity, Blackboard, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America declined to comment.

Based in Washington D.C., Blackboard provides custom software to help students collaborate on assignments and communicate with teachers. It serves 19,000 clients in 100 countries including 1,900 international institutions, with 80 percent of the top academic institutions using its software, according to its website.

The majority of Blackboard’s business is from higher education clients but it also generates revenue from K-12 schools and from government and corporate clients. The company has also branched into “student pathway” services that help students manage financial aid, video conferencing and other areas.

Providence took Blackboard private in 2011 for $1.64 billion and also assumed $130 million in net debt.

A pioneer in education management software founded in 1998, Blackboard has seen its growth slow in recent years as cheaper and faster software upstarts such as Instructure Inc have tried to encroach on its turf. Since its launch in 2011, Instructure has signed up 1,200 colleges and school districts, according to its website.

The sector has been very active for private equity firms. Last year, Hellman & Friedman LLC acquired K-12 education company Renaissance Learning for $1.1 billion, and Charterhouse Capital Partners acquired Skillsoft, which provides educational software to businesses, for more than $2 billion.

Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) has held talks with investment banks about taking McGraw-Hill Education public later this year in an IPO worth more than $5 billion, Reuters reported in April.

Providence has previously invested in education companies ITT Educational Services Inc ESI.N, Archipelago Learning and Education Management Corp.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker, Greg Roumeliotis and Mike Stone in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

A bang just went off in the corporate training and HR market.  One of the largest training content companies (Skillsoft) just finalized the acquisitionof one of the largest learning platform companies (SumTotal Systems). In some ways this is like the makers of peanut butter and jelly buying the bakers of bread. The whole “sandwich” now comes from the same company.  (One could call it “SkillTotal.”)

While much of this deal was about growth, this acquisition represents the beginning of deeper integration between corporate learning and the LMS or learning technology market. Earlier this year Wiley acquired CrossKnowledge with this same goal: providing a more integrated, embedded, and engaging learning experience for corporate employees.

Let me give you some insights about what this all means:

1. The combined company has a new level of scale.  

The combined company now has nearly 10,000 customers, more than 60 million users, and more than 2,400 employees around the world, making it among the largest corporate training providers. Skillsoft and SumTotal are both pioneers in their respective markets and each grew through a series of acquisitions. Skillsoft acquired Smartforce, NetG, ElementK, Mindleaders, Books24x7 and other smaller content providers. SumTotal is the combination of Click2Learn, Docent, Pathlore, GeoLearning, Mindsolve, and several other technology companies. So the new combined company has a very large customer base, enormous technology portfolio, and vast amounts of corporate training content.

While there are hundreds of other LMS and content companies, nearly all the others are smaller.  With the exception of CrossKnowledge (now owned by Wiley), most content companies only sell content and most LMS companies only sell technology (although many LMS companies have reseller relationships with content providers). Companies have tried to do both over the years, but in almost every case the skills needed are quite different. Content companies need extensive expertise in instructional design, vertical content, and content management solutions while LMS companies need expertise in enterprise software, talent management technology, and ERP-like integration.

Skillsoft’s acquisition of SumTotal gives the company both.  The company now has a mature enterprise software business (which plays in all areas of talent management) as well as a large and mature training content business. The combination opens up a lot of new doors for innovation, better integration, and new customer value.

Scale brings value in many ways. With more customers and a larger sales force (the combined sales force is almost 4X the size of SumTotal’s sales force), more consultants and third party providers are likely to migrate to the Skillsoft-SumTotal platform. There are more than 2,000 providers of content, tools, assessments, and platforms in this market, and many of them will now want to work with Skillsoft’s platforms. The company almost rivals the ERP vendors for size and market reach.

2.  Synergies.  Expanded sales force for SumTotal. Technology team for Skillsoft.

How about company synergies? They fall into two major areas: sales and technology.

Skillsoft was always one of the leading sales organizations in this market. There isn’t a corporate training manager that has not talked with a Skillsoft sales person, and most have purchased Skillsoft courses at one point during their career.

SumTotal is a well-established company in the LMS market and one of the top five market share leaders, but did not have a large sales force.  (Read Bersin by Deloitte LMS 2014 for more details). The LMS market, which is now over $2.6 Billion in size, is growing at close to 24% annually – so there is a lot of buying going on. Together the company now has more feet on the street and can offer LMS to all content customers, and content to tall LMS customers.

The second synergy is technology. Skillsoft has been trying to build out it’s technology capability for some time. While Skillport has become more of a scalable system each year, it could never truly reach enterprise LMS class, holding the company back from taking on a role as a customer’s primary learning platform. This problem now goes away. Skillsoft can offer an enterprise class LMS as well as an entire suite of HR and talent management products, all integrated with content.

3.  Improving the Learning Experience: Integrating content and technology.

The integration of content with platforms remains an opportunity as well. Over the last fifteen years the online learning industry grew into two marketplaces:  content (e-learning) and technology (LMS and talent platforms). Customers purchased the two separately and only SCORM and hard work by vendors made sure that the two worked together.


  • 30% have incomes > $100K
  • 70% are women
  • Age 25-34
  • 70% of Pinners are on Pinterest to gain inspiration for what to buy.

Global Knowledge

Prices Too High

Most people could benefit from these classes but don’t need to pay that much

Sales Strategy

Build Tribe though Online Marketing

Paid Online Promotion

Offer Lead Magnate


Add America’s favorite collection of soft-skills communication training to your Learning Management System. Our library of customer service, mentoring, email etiquette, phone skills, customer loyalty, team building, conflict resolution and management development training courses are available in SCORM or AICC compliant builds – and ready to be installed onto your existing Learning Management System (LMS).

Current clients using LMS platforms such as SABA, BlueVolt, Blackboard, SumTotal, Oracle Taleo Cloud, SuccessFactors SAP, OnPoint Digital, Moodle, Cornerstone, BizLibrary and SkillSoft are enjoying excellent learning outcomes from our ten distinct series and 120 training modules

Features of our LMS modules include

  • Efficient course completion times
  • Broadcast quality, chaptered video presentations with pause, FF and rewind function
  • Quizzes with grading, post-quiz explanations and reporting functions
  • Printable certificate of completion
  • JAVA or AJAX interactivity
  • Printable key points

Contact us for affordable Enterprise Wide Pricing and to arrange for a test course for your Learning Management System.

Available in an all-inclusive, annual bundle, these ten best-selling series can be licensed in SCORM or AICC compliant LMS modules for your Learning Management System. Contact us for affordable Enterprise Wide Pricing.

  • Telephone Doctor® Customer Service Series (20 modules)
  • Service Matters℠ Roundtable Series (12 modules)
  • ServiceSims℠ Challenge Series (12 modules)
  • Email Matters℠ The Art of Better Service Series (19 modules)
  • How to be a Terrible Team Member℠ (11 modules)
  • What To Say When℠ Team Building Series (10 modules)
  • What To Say When℠ Conflict Resolution Series (10 modules)
  • What To Say When℠ Mentoring Series (10 modules)
  • Newmarket Learning℠ Leadership Series (6 modules)
  • Houndville℠ Animated Workplace Series (10 modules)

Operations Plan

Your Operations Plan section has two sub-sections as follows:

14 – Key Operational Processes

Your Key Operational Processes are the daily functions your business must conduct. In this section, you will detail these functions. For example, will you maintain a Customer Service department? If so, what specific role will it fill?

By completing this section, you’ll get great clarity on the organization you hope to build.

15 – Milestones

In this section of your business plan, list the key milestones you hope to achieve in the future and the target dates for achieving them.

Here is where you set goals for specific and critical undertakings, such as when a new product will be created and launched, by when you plan to execute new partnerships, etc.


Established to help programs, initiatives, and policies better support flexible, lifelong learning through the use of technology.


Encourage collaboration, facilitate interoperability, and promote best practices for using distributed learning to provide the highest-quality education, training, informal learning, and just-in-time support, tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere.


Four broad lines of effort:

  • Thought Leadership: serve as a leader for forward-looking distributed learning topics within the community. Thought leadership involves the curation (i.e., collection, validation, synthesis, maintenance, and dissemination) of relevant requirements, emerging targets of opportunity, corresponding strategic roadmaps, and associated policy guidance. Effective thought leadership also includes the cultivation of stakeholder buy-in for the advocated strategies, plans, and policies.
  • R&D Innovation: strive to develop the next-generation of distributed learning science techniques and technologies via research, development, and collaboration.  Develop and assess advanced distributed learning prototypes that enable more effective, efficient, and affordable learner-centric lifelong learning. These R&D activities span six technical areas: 1) e-learning, 2) mobile learning, 3) learning theory, 4) web-based virtual worlds, games and simulations, 5) learning analytics and 6) performance modeling, and interoperability infrastructure.
  • Outreach and Transition: Work closely with other learning communities to help them implement effective, coordinated advanced distributed learning solutions.
  • Develop the standards, tools, and learning content for the future learning environment.


Our vision is to harness the power of the Internet and other virtual or private wide-area networks (WANs) to deliver high-quality learning.

We want to bring together intelligent tutors, distributed subject matter experts, real-time in-depth learning management, and a diverse array of support tools to ensure a responsive, high-quality “learner-centric” system.

The advanced distributed learning strategy requires re-engineering the learning paradigm from a “classroom-centric” model to an increasingly “learner-centric” model, and re-engineering the learning business process from a “factory model” (involving mainly large education and training institutions) to a more network-centric “information-age model” which incorporates anytime-anywhere learning (DoD Strategic Plan for ADL, 1999).

ALC strategy is pursuit of emerging network-based technologies, creation of common standards to enable reuse and interoperability of learning content, lowering of development costs, widespread promotion of collaboration to satisfy common needs, enhancing performance with next-generation learning technologies, working closely with industry to influence the commercial product development cycles, establishing coordinated implementation processes, and ultimately delivering efficient and effective high-quality learning continuously to the Community anytime/anywhere.

ALC’s intent is to establish learning that is: 1) accessible (anytime/anywhere), 2) interoperable (across developers and technical platforms), 3) durable (does not require redesign when technology changes), and 4) cost-effective (significantly increases learning effectiveness while reducing time, costs, and duplications of effort).

These aims will be achieved by taking five actions.

  1. Influence the development/use of common industry standards
  2. Enable acquisition of interoperable tools and content
  3. Create a robust and dynamic network infrastructure for distribution
  4. Enable the modernization of supporting resources
  5. Engender cultural change to move from a “classroom-centric” to a “learner-centric” model


The ALC is designed to leverage the full power of communications, information, and learning technologies—through the use of collaboratively developed common standard.

  • The challenge to teachers is to understand and apply the new technologies in concert with, in addition to, or in some cases in place of, traditional learning methods.
  • The challenge to developers is to design methods of instruction and content that are open-architecture, shareable, high quality, and cost effective.
  • The challenge to the information technology sector is to field an infrastructure that supports anytime, anywhere learning with appropriate bandwidth, transaction security, and robustness that is transparent to the learner.

These are not easy challenges. They require unprecedented collaboration and consensus building.

We have the tools and we have the will, so now we just need to do it!

ADL Initiative

The ADL Initiative is a US government program, reporting to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training, under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness. ADL was established to help programs, initiatives, and policies better support flexible, lifelong learning through the use of technology.

ADL Mission

The ADL Initiative bridges across Defense and other Federal agencies, as well as coalition partners and industry and academia, to encourage collaboration, facilitate interoperability, and promote best practices for using distributed learning to provide the highest-quality education, training, informal learning, and just-in-time support, tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere.

ADL Activities

The ADL Initiative pursues three broad lines of effort:

  • Thought Leadership: ADL aspires to serve as a leader for forward-looking distributed learning topics within the DoD, other national and coalition governmental agencies, and the greater professional community. For ADL, thought leadership involves the curation (i.e., collection, validation, synthesis, maintenance, and dissemination) of relevant requirements, emerging targets of opportunity, corresponding strategic roadmaps, and associated policy guidance. Effective thought leadership also includes the cultivation of stakeholder buy-in for the advocated strategies, plans, and policies.
  • R&D Innovation: ADL strives to develop the next-generation of distributed learning science techniques and technologies via research, development, and collaboration. In accordance with its original mandate, ADL’s R&D work seeks to develop and assess advanced distributed learning prototypes that enable more effective, efficient, and affordable learner-centric lifelong learning. These R&D activities span six technical areas: e-learning, mobile learning, learning theory, web-based virtual worlds and simulations, learning analytics and performance modeling, and interoperability infrastructure.
  • Outreach and Transition: Finally, ADL works closely with stakeholders to help them implement effective, coordinated advanced distributed learning solutions. This includes coordination via ADL’s professional communities of practice, the Defense ADL Advisory Committee, international governmental bodies (such as NATO), and the ADL Global Partnership Network.

ADL Program History

The ADL Initiative traces its antecedents to the early 1990s, when Congress authorized and appropriated funds for the National Guard to build prototype electronic classrooms and learning networks to increase personnel’s access to learning opportunities. By the mid-1990s, DoD realized the need for a more coordinated approach, and the 1996 Quadrennial Defense Review formalized this by directing development of a Department-wide strategy for modernizing technology-based education and training. This strategy became the original ADL Initiative, and in 1998, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R), in collaboration with the Services, Joint Staff, Under Secretaries of Defense for Acquisition and Technology and the Comptroller), to lead ADL. The Deputy Secretary of Defense also directed the USD(P&R) to produce the Department-wide policy for advanced distributed learning, develop a corresponding “master plan” to carry out the policy, and to ensure sufficient programs and resources were available for the associated implementation (see the 1999 ADL Strategic Plan for more details).

By 1998, the DoD and other Federal agencies (e.g., the Department of Labor) had each established their own ADL projects, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) moved to consolidate these via the Federal Training Technology Initiative. Thus, following guidance from Congress, OSTP, and the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, the DoD ADL Initiative was grown into a Federal-wide program. Specific direction for this can be found in Section 378 of Public Law 105-261, the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999, which required the Secretary of Defense to develop a strategic plan for expanding distance learning initiatives, as well as Executive Order 13111 (President William J. Clinton, 12 January 1999), which called for an integrated Federal-wide approach to distance learning.

Shortly after President Clinton signed Executive Order 13111, the Pentagon released the Department of Defense Strategic Plan for Advanced Distributed Learning (April 30, 1999) and the corresponding Department of Defense Implementation Plan for Advanced Distributed Learning (May 19, 2000). These prescient documents defined the ADL Initiative, its rationale and vision, in a way that still largely aligns with the contemporary program. For instance, from page 8:

Importantly, the Initiative’s underpinnings and applications are germane not only to the Department of Defense, but to other government organizations, academia, and the private sector, as well. The ADL Initiative, therefore, is a structured, adaptive, collaborative effort between the public and private sectors to develop the standards, tools, and learning content for the future learning environment. The Department of Defense’s vision is to harness the power of the Internet and other virtual or private wide-area networks (WANs) to deliver high-quality learning. It brings together intelligent tutors, distributed subject matter experts, real-time in-depth learning management, and a diverse array of support tools to ensure a responsive, high-quality “learner-centric” system (DoD Strategic Plan for ADL, 1999).

And later, on page 9:

The advanced distributed learning strategy requires re-engineering the learning paradigm from a “classroom-centric” model to an increasingly “learner-centric” model, and re-engineering the learning business process from a “factory model” (involving mainly large education and training institutions) to a more network-centric “information-age model” which incorporates anytime-anywhere learning (DoD Strategic Plan for ADL, 1999).

Similarly, the objectives outlined in that 1999 strategy still guide today’s ADL Initiative. For instance, the original strategy proposed pursuit of emerging network-based technologies, creation of common standards to enable reuse and interoperability of learning content, lowering of development costs, widespread promotion of collaboration to satisfy common needs, enhancing performance with next-generation learning technologies, working closely with industry to influence the commercial product development cycles, establishing coordinated implementation processes, and ultimately delivering efficient and effective high-quality learning continuously to DoD anytime/anywhere. The original intent of these efforts (which is still valid today) was to establish learning that was accessible (anytime/anywhere), interoperable (across developers and technical platforms), durable (does not require redesign when technology changes), and cost-effective (significantly increases learning effectiveness while reducing time, costs, and duplications of effort).

These aims were to be achieved by taking five actions (which, again, still hold relevance today; see the DoD Strategy for ADL, 1999, p. 10):

  • Influence the development/use of common industry standards
  • Enable acquisition of interoperable tools and content
  • Create a robust and dynamic network infrastructure for distribution
  • Enable the modernization of supporting resources
  • Engender cultural change to move from a “classroom-centric” to a “learner-centric” model
  • Mike Parmentier, the OSD Director for Readiness and Training Policy and Programs, who supervised the original ADL Initiative director published in March 2000 (p. 4):

The ADL Initiative is designed to leverage the full power of communications, information, and learning technologies—through the use of collaboratively developed common standards…The challenge to teachers is to understand and apply the new technologies in concert with, in addition to, or in some cases in place of, traditional learning methods. The challenge to developers is to design methods of instruction and content that are open-architecture, shareable, high quality, and cost effective. The challenge to the information technology sector is to field an infrastructure that supports anytime, anywhere learning with appropriate bandwidth, transaction security, and robustness that is transparent to the learner. These are not easy challenges. They require unprecedented collaboration and consensus building.

This quotation highlights ADL’s long-term mission as well as its enduring core values, including active inclusion of learning science best practices with advanced technology development, dedication to open and interoperable technologies, a learner-centric focus, and unique commitment to widespread collaboration. Although, technologies have advanced since 1999 and requirements have evolved, the original ADL mission and vision still ring true today.

ADL Program Stakeholders

The ADL Initiative originated as a DoD-wide program, and Defense personnel have been—and remain—the core constituents of ADL. However, with the policy documents published in the late 1990s, ADL received direction to also serve the entire Federal workforce as well as international partners, industry, and academia. In short, ADL’s stakeholders, in rough order of priority include, the US Defense and security sector, US Federal government, coalition military partners, and other distributed learning professionals from industry, professional societies, and academic institutions.

Since its inception, ADL has emphasized collaboration. The two primary program offices, in Alexandria and Orlando, were originally named “Collaboration Laboratories” (or Co-Labs, for short) to emphasize this cooperation, and they were explicitly designed as cooperative sandbox environments, where government, industry and academia could come together to test commercial product offerings against learning requirements (Parmentier, 2000).

Implementation Plan

When implementing your a LMS, there are lots of things to consider.

We will provide our standard process for implementation, and the tasks they outline will probably cover about 70-75% of the typical organization’s implementation needs.

With that said, there is up to 30% of variability in the implementation process from company to company. How do we account for that? How do we know what variabilities may apply to business customers? We have developed a process where we help our clients analyze the key steps in a successful implementation.


You may need as much as 30 days just to complete the vendor’s process alignment. This stage falls largely on the client’s shoulders, where you’ll need to gather and send your process information to the LMS vendor. You’ll want to stay on top of this process and be vocal about your organization’s needs since the vendor has to work on this as well as the rest of your implementation.


Prior to the vendor project officially kicking off, analyze your business case and requirements and make configuration recommendations as well as draw attention to any needed considerations for items such as certi cations and learning paths.


Whatever the vendor calls them, be sure to scope a very accurate draft of the data model, and what fields, based on the requirements/business case, need to be brought over from your HRIS as well as the frequency of the data feed.


Work with your team and your vendor to learn best practices, what is in scope, what is necessary, and what is affordable. Think about your obligations in terms of retaining records for compliance.


Determine how to create and engaging and inviting user experience from the rst page the learner sees when they access your new LMS. Use tabs, naviga- tion, and all other features to make getting to the learning simple and easy for your learners.


Consider how to best edit out of the box system noti cations for your users. Use dynamic object elds in messages to make them feel genuine to your learners. Determine who should be noti ed and when (pre/post training, learner, supervisor, managers, upon enrollment, completion, etc)


If possible, test in a pilot environment rather than Live. You’ll then move data from Test to Stage, and then Stage to Live by copying down your data. It’s time consuming, but in the end, saves everyone grief because you know you’ve got it right. The exception might be to test integrations such as SSO in your Stage environment so as not to impact your timeline.


Finally, learn about your vendor’s support model and how your team of administrators will interact with the vendor. Will they have to use support tickets? Do they get to call? Is there a dedicated client advocate post the implementation? Beyond the implementation, the most important consideration is user adoption. Be sure to have a plan that enables the greatest possible ROI.


A Learning Management System is meant for people: making people smarter, qualifying them for new tasks and making sure they have the right knowledge for good decisions. Key in Learning Management therefore is to involve people in a way that makes them use provided learning material, indicate their process, and collaborate with others to keep the learning experience relevant. Your LMS is your tool to engage people in the learning process. Therefore, it needs to be easy to work with, have an appealing, modern interface, well-structured learning content, and give a comprehensible overview of learning progress.


Once an LMS provides relevant information and performance support, people visit it frequently and take up the information easily. Therefore, it is important to revise courses regularly, ask for participants’ feedback, and adapt content to make it more user-friendly. Microlearning is a helpful method to achieve this. In addition, participants need to access courses in their LMS at the moment

of need, which can be anywhere: on the road, in the factory, at a customer’s site. Browser-based access and a responsive design make your LMS exible enough to be used outside the organizational context and help keep the training activity relevant.


Faster than ever, technology develops into forms we did not know before. What you don’t really want is to be stuck with tools that rely on one system only, that cannot adapt to new screen sizes or modes of access. Software-asa-Service (SaaS) is a must in times when employees and other LMS users are increasingly working from abroad or from their home-of ce.

It gives them the freedom to access training at a moment of need and makes you independent from software installation and maintenance. With exible license models and continuous platform development, SaaS helps you reduce costs and stay competitive for the future.


Use a role division that is simple, yet effective: employees and partners can be participants with rights to comment on learning material and review their own learning progress. On top of that: trainers who deliver relevant knowledge and material. Those should be able to create and adapt content, monitor results and give feedback to participants. Trainers are experts in their eld of knowledge, not in technical course development. Therefore, it is important to a) give trainers tools that are extremely easy to work with, and b) assign assistants or co-trainers who can do part of the administrative or content adaptation work. Essential for that is a clear and secure role division in your LMS.


An LMS is often used for temporary skills training courses: once
completed, courses are redundant to the user. The best idea is to think of Learning Management as an ongoing project instead, with opportunities for self-re ection and future referral to learning material. This helps you make much more of your platform and enable a stable framework for quali cation and up skilling. Remember: your LMS is not meant to make you struggle with technique and content, but as a helpful tool, it makes learning easier and more exible.

Section VIII – Management Team

Your Management Team section has three sub-sections as follows:

16 – Management Team Members

This section details the current members of your management team and their backgrounds.

17 – Management Team Gaps

Particularly if you’re a startup venture, you will have holes in your team; roles that you’d like to fill later. Identify such roles here, and the qualifications of the people you will seek later to fill them.

18 – Board Members

If you maintain a Board of Advisors or Board of Directors, detail your Board members and their bios in this section.


Financial Plan

Revenue Model

The ALC will make money by selling:

  1. Premium Information created by the ALC Members
  2. Grading/Certification/Advising

The driving revenue model is: the price for information goes up as the value goes up.  The way to measure value is through downloads of the information.


Financial Highlights

Your full financial model (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement) belong in your Appendix, but in this section you’ll include the highlights. For instance, include your revenues, key expenses, and projected net income for the next five years.

21 – Funding Requirements/Use of Funds

If you are seeking funding for your company, detail the amount here, and importantly for what you will use the funds.


Exit Strategy

Sell to a Larger LMS Provider like Blackboard.

They would be buying the IP and copyrighted algorithms that have been developed under the @lantis® brand.

They will be buying the Brand which will have value they can see.


Intellectual Property




Atlantis Learning Management System Algorithm.


Learning Management System Algorithm


Atlantis Learning Management System Code


If we plan to host the Learning Community Software on our own servers and sell accounts to access the app, that doesn’t count as distribution, and the GPLv2 doesn’t impact our business at all.

However, if we wanted to allow schools to install the software to run on their own servers, we would have to share the source code with them.  This would count as an act of distribution.  Our customers would be able to legally give our source code away for free license, with wouldn’t allow us to restrict what they do with the code after they downloaded it.

Section X – Appendix

23 – Supporting Documentation

As mentioned above, your full financial model (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement) belong in your appendix.

Likewise, include any supporting documentation that will help convince readers your company will succeed. For example, include customer lists, awards, and patents received among others.