Thursday, November 5, 2009

eLearning Outperforms Live Training

A recent study conducted by the US department of education concluded that digital learning, most specifically online learning, produced better results in learners than live classroom training.

The research, which can be found at was gathered from over 1000 studies conducted over a 12 year period. While it has been long suspected that eLearning had better results than classroom training alone, it was discovered that a blend of classroom and elearning did no better than elearning alone.

“The studies of more recent online instruction included in this meta-analysis found that, on average, online learning, at the post-secondary level, is not just as good as but more effective than conventional face-to-face instruction..” said Marshall “Mike” Smith, a Senior Counselor to the secretary of Education.

At DigitalChalk, we are committed to providing free online elearning course development tools for any instructor. We believe the future is shaped by the quality of learning today. Let's get started building more online courses together!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

DigitalChalk Offers Free Accounts

Recently DigitalChalk launched the Einstein version 3.0 release. On Monday August 10th they are announcing the availability of a free instructor account that let's anyone setup an account and build courses in a privately branded learning site. The free account setup option just showed up on the DigitalChalk homepage so you should be able to go register today.

There is a cost involved in delivering training to students but they are waiving the setup fee for this free account. You don't get any live product support or the optional high resolution video but if you are interested in a quick and easy way to start delivering elearning, this is a great option.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

DigitalChalk ASTD 2009 Twitter Game Rules

#DigitalChalk will be giving out a total of three $100.00 Visa gifts cards – one for day one and two on day two of ASTD 2009 Expo (June 1st and 2nd); those eligible must be at the conference to win and must be a follower of @DigitalChalk on twitter. There is a limit of one prize per person. 

 The goal of the game is to figure out a three-word phrase from clues on tee shirts.  Here is how it works:  

1.      June 1st and 2nd, we will send out three tweets announcing the release of a clue. 

2.      The first four people to report to the DigitalChalk booth 1519 will receive a free DigitalChalk tee shirt with a clue on it.  

3.      The first person to observe all three keywords, Tweets the phrase to DigitalChalk and shows up at the booth will receive $100 Visa gift card

Click Here to view a short video about the game


Friday, May 22, 2009

My Twitter Confessions

I have to confess that for the first couple months I was on Twitter I actually took them seriously when they asked "What are you doing?"  I kept hearing people rant on about using twitter for relationship building and brand marketing and customer support and and and....  I just didn't get it.  I have to give big props to @ttolle (oh my, did I just do that @ thing?) for finally helping me see the light.  We went to #SXSW this year and everywhere I went people were making connections on Twitter.  The real eye opener was when I sat through a lecture by @Werner CTO of Amazon and the best questions for the panel came from Tweets the moderator read.  

Yes, I have the twitter bug.  My Facebook status is automatically updated from it and I have a tweet client on every connected device I own.  Here is why, I recently had two old friends sign up on DigitalChalk because of tweets they read on my facebook.  Today I had someone DM me on twitter asking what is DigitalChalk.  To top things off, last week we saw a DigitalChalk and XYZ company product comparison question posed and were able to respond.  This week I was able to tweet about two of our new customers training offerings on DigitalChalk.  

The thing that I finally figured out?  Twitter is like everything else that's worth doing, it takes time to learn it.  Who knew you could do so much with 140 characters.  Maybe that's exactly the point...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Enterprise Cloud Computing Misses the Point

With the recent Google outage, the tech news world is full of prognosticators who want to pass judgement on Cloud Computing readiness for the Enterprise.  The 24 hour news churn seems to be impacting even the tech news crowd.  My guess is that Nicholas Kolakowski  and Garret Rogers  both wrote their pieces about Cloud Computing from a large corporate network that they complain about (privately) and they are probably required to email a copy of their postings to someone using the corporate Exchange Server that mysteriously keeps going down.  Come on guys, are you kidding?  Cloud Computing IS the Enterprise.  

Let's get real for a minute, the Cloud is simply virtualized, externalized services. In many cases these services are servicing the same organization internally and they find it useful to timeshare externally for a profit. 
 Examples include Google, Amazon or  Ok, let's be honest, nobody's network services are immune to outage.  Five nines of reliability (depending on how you count them) still amounts to 8.76 hours of downtime per year!

Are outages annoying?  Sure, can they be costly, of course.  I'm all about making the service providers deliver as promised but I also am pragmatic enough to know that in all of the enterprise accounts I have worked, I have never found one that didn't have it's share of outages.  

Here is the real question, is the Enterprise in need of a Cloud service?  Small and medium size businesses and individuals need access to the services Cloud Computing can provide.  Enterprises have the opposite problem, they need to make sure they reach maximum possible utilization of the services they have.  Cloud Computing is comprised of a lot of services being provided by Enterprises who want to maximize efficiency.  The story is best told when looking at the Amazon 2008 earnings "Amazon’s “other revenue” — which includes that of AWS — totaled $550 million in the last 12 months, up 32 percent from a year earlier. " Courtesy of Kevin Kelleher at Gigaom

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bandwidth caps spark innovation

The race to cap bandwidth in the consumer market will have the opposite effect desired by the network providers.  How can I know?  Simple, these companies are just not very nimble.  The very fact that they are trying to hold the dyke back with their thumb (and a straight face) is proof that they have no clue what the future holds.  This reminds me of the days when they tried to enforce a ban on home networking and WiFi.  These same guys thought they could tell consumers they must buy a separate connection for each computer in a household.  Wise up guys, I will gnaw off my arm before I become your hostage.  

The short term effects could pose a threat to businesses who rely on customers to consume large files such as video, the backlash will come quickly when people realize they are getting gouged.  Look for the following new technologies to emerge shortly:

1.  Network resource aggregating tools - I've often wondered when someone will make a tool that let's me subscribe to multiple services and manage them through a single network hub.  When my Cable connection goes down, I roll over onto AT&T fiber for example.  I suspect this will come out very quickly if caps are enforced. 

2.  WiMax - This is already rolling out but it will get more traction when people start feeling shafted by their hard-line (pun intended) provider.  I will go out of my way to punish a provider who is acting in bad faith.  Most of us feel that way don't we?

3.  Shared Services - From my house I can see three of my neighbors WiFi networks.  The more we feel screwed over by the cable company, the less guilty we start feeling about setting up a nice shared secure network.  

Don't despair, we consumers are a lot brighter than the guys running these cable companies.  The biggest risk we really run is that we put these guys out of business when we punish them, that would reduce choices (but right now, it looks attractive to me).  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Micro SaaS Success

Over the past few days much has been said about the apparent decline in growth at Salesforce and how that might reflect on Software as a Service (SaaS) providers in general.  Salesforce has become the poster child for SaaS, not in a small part because of it's market share and rate of growth.  It seems to me that the media and industry pundits are unsure if the rules of free market (saturation, segment maturity etc.) apply to SaaS.  Salesforce is doing incredibly well but by no means is it immune from the basic trends of a market downturn, when sales are down, CRM products take a hit, SaaS or not.  The real question is how is Salesforce doing against it's sector.  When you examine their traditional software cousins in this market, Salesforce looks simply stellar.  

It is my opinion that the real barometer of SaaS success in the marketplace is not to look at the elephants but the rabbits.  In a tough economic period, how does an emerging market perform relative to the broader economy and within that market how do the startups and innovators fare?  

For some time now I have railed on the virtues of embracing a "traditional" business model when running a SaaS cloud service.  As in 2000 and now 2009, "if we get the users, we will make money" mindset falls down without an established revenue model at the onsite.  At some point investors are about an ROI.  Excitement and cool AJAX don't pay for salaries or bandwidth.  DigitalChalk is proving the point, from the time of the market collapse and finance meltdown, our growth rate, revenue and average gross profit per user has steadily gone up.  

there appears to be two types of SaaS providers, the elephants that get the press and the rabbits or "Micro SaaS" that get fat on the grass right at their feet.  
The DigitalChalk core product revenue growth in the 4th quarter of 2008 grew at over 20% month over month with the average gross profit per transaction in a range most blue-chips would kill for.  Our February is tracking at 37% growth in transactions over January with gross profit up over 11% month over month.  In short, we are looking at some pretty amazing hockey stick growth charts for the past seven months.  The very cool thing about this business is (a statistic VC in 2007 would have gagged on) we have less than 10,000 users on DigitalChalk.  We are truly a Micro SaaS.  DigitalChalk will exceed $1.2M in core product revenue in Q3 2009 at current growth rates and we will do it with under 16,000 active users.  

Would I like the have Twitter valuations and VC funding raining down? Sure, but I like my prospects of employment and profit in three years a lot better at DigitalChalk!

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