Purdue, CourseNetworking to collaborate on next-generation edtech

October 15, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Making the higher education learning experience more mobile, social, and altogether part of the modern student's life is the goal of a new collaboration between Purdue University and CourseNetworking, which is also known as "CN."

CN is an Indianapolis-based company that is developing next-generation learning management systems for colleges and universities, as well as kindergarten through 12th grade, that combine the social aspects of Facebook or Twitter with the familiar educational platforms.

As part of the collaboration, CN will begin working with Purdue's Studio mobile classroom apps and data analysis tools to either incorporate them into the CN product or to use them as a springboard to develop completely new technologies.

Ali Jafari, professor of computer and information technology at Purdue's School of Engineering and Technology and director of the CyberLab, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is the founder of CN. He is also a serial entrepreneur with an impressive track record in developing technologies for higher education. Jafari's previous projects include Indiana University's Oncourse, and the ANGEL Learning Management System, which was sold to Blackboard in 2009 for $100 million.

"The partnership presents us with a huge opportunity but also a huge amount of homework to do," Jafari says. "But I'm very interested in having a partner with whom we can brainstorm new ideas."

Purdue brings to the table its portfolio of nine Studio apps, which boost student engagement and success. The Studio apps are developed by Information Technology at Purdue's informatics unit, which is led by Kyle Bowen.

Bowen says in addition to the technologies, Purdue is also interested in the commercial success and expertise of CN.

"Purdue has a rich set of learning technologies, and CourseNetworking could supplement these and also help us move them to market faster," he says.

Bowen adds that although CN is a new type of learning management system, this doesn't necessarily mean that Purdue is planning to move away from longtime vendor Blackboard.

"We're not moving away from Blackboard, but we are looking at supporting multiple levels of learning management, and CN fits in with that approach," Bowen says. "CN offers fewer features but also more flexibility and greater ease of use than competing projects, and this can reduce barriers for faculty who have been reluctant to use an LMS for their course before."

Jafari says the partnership will create new edtech tools that will appeal to today's digital native students.

"The learning systems we have today were developed almost two decades ago," Jafari says. "We need to invent the next generation. We need to learn a lesson from Facebook and Twitter that connecting people together and let them learn from each other is a more effective way to go."

Writer: Steve Tally, 765-494-9809, tally@purdue.edu  

Sources: Kyle Bowen, 765-496-7486, kbowen@purdue.edu 

Ali Jafari, jafari@iupui.edu 

Related website:
Purdue Studio

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