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The Differences that Matter

  • 3 Min Read

In the years since I started Desire2Learn, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with clients about how they evaluate digital learning solutions, what their needs are today, and how that might change in the future.

What I’ve learned through these discussions is that the differences that matter between the various solutions are never about specific features or development technologies that can be simplified into a chart.  What really matters to educators is working with a team that wants to understand their goals, dig deep, and cultivate a true understanding of pedagogy and learning experiences to find a way of mapping these needs to a solution.  A solution that fits today and will grow with what they need in the future.  It’s an investment in both a vision and a thought leader who is committed to and cares about the same things that you do – teaching and learning.

What are the other differences that matter? My interactions with all of you have given me great insight into this question.  We’ve invested in and built a team that includes educators from corporate, K-12, and higher education backgrounds to define and implement our product strategy and support our service and sales organization. They are all focused on maintaining a high level of understanding to build next generation learning solutions.

We can talk about feature comparison charts, but this is zero sum game.  Features can be added, replicated and improved upon quickly. The real value we strive to offer you is in the vision and commitment to address the challenges facing education: learner engagement, retention, and outcomes.
This isn’t just about developing better features (and we will always do our best to be the leader there, too).  This is about creating a bigger vision for technology in learning that goes well beyond the simple functionality to manage a course in a world that isn’t “one size fits all.”  We see those solutions as old-generation tools that provide basic productivity and very little or zero transformation.  You may be looking at a new interface, but you’re automating old-school thinking.  That’s not why we’re here.

We believe that predictive modeling to support informed decision making, adaptive digital content, mobile devices, and social tools are fueling opportunities for innovation in learning.  By leveraging these technologies to work together seamlessly, we deliver an insights-driven and adaptable personal learning experience designed to help you truly transform teaching and learning.  We call this an integrated learning platform.  It’s a monumental leap forward.  A shift from simple automation to something that delivers a highly pervasive, perceptive, and personal learning experience.  If you haven’t heard me talk about what I’m calling the “3 Ps,” then please take a few minutes to watch my keynote from FUSION 2013.

Not everyone is engaged in this kind of dialogue.  I know that we’re using a chart here to show comparisons, but charts often speak at a feature level.  This can be confusing for clients as they try to identify the value of each of the components and the differences that truly matter.  Let’s dispel some of that confusion and provide a view of what the right criteria is for evaluating features and functionality.

Are these features reflective of your needs as a forward-thinking educator?  Do they reflect a sound vision and a commitment to improving education? Will they help you offer a mobile, content-rich experience (pervasive), an investment in learning analytics that advances the learning process (perceptive), and a unique learning path that improves outcomes (personal)? And – perhaps most importantly, as a critical compliance issue in the evaluation process – is it a highly accessible solution that supports every student’s individual needs?

These criteria need to be understood if we’re going to have a discussion about how a solution’s functionality contributes to your goals and needs.

This is the beginning of the conversation that we should have.  I am going to be talking a lot more about the “3 Ps” (Personal, Pervasive, and Perceptive), the integrated learning platform, the importance of accessibility, and our continued focus on delivering something that directly addresses the growing needs of the learning community and ensures no student is ever left behind.

With your input, let’s keep talking.  Please share your comments on Twitter using the #D2L and #DifferencesThatMatter hashtags.

I look forward to learning more from our clients and prospects throughout my travels. Please keep sharing your ideas for the future.  Together, we can transform the way the world learns!

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