Kitchener’s Desire2Learn has announced a major expansion into Australia with the opening of a Melbourne office, effectively setting itself up for business in the Asia-Pacific market.
The company, which now employs more than 550, rarely sees a week in which it doesn’t announce a major American post-secondary institution win. But cracking the vast Asia-Pacific market with its cloud-computing platform might offer magnitudes of growth.
Desire2Learn, which was founded in 1999 by then-University of Waterloo student John Baker, develops e-learning software for schools, universities and governments. The company’s software allows students to submit homework online, as well as watch streaming lectures. Faculty can mark students’ work “in the cloud” as well as add innovative critiques in the form of audio commentary. Amongst other initiatives, the company is working to perfect a tablet application at the same time as it makes progress with its new foothold in Australia.
Ian Smissen, Desire2Learn’s Director of Operations Asia-Pacific, said the company is looking to parlay its recent success in Australia to the broader Asia-Pacific region.
“Desire2Learn’s vision and technology has clearly resonated in the Australian market and we have significantly grown our presence in the region over the last twelve months,” he said. “With a strong presence in Melbourne, we’ll be able to better support local customers and provide them with higher-quality learning solutions. Melbourne is an ideal location for our Asia-Pacific base, and we look forward attracting world-class talent that will help us deliver positive impact to our customers.”
A recent survey by education firm Pearson ranked four Asian countries in its top five worldwide in terms of overall quality. Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s chief education adviser, said the much of the reason is an issue of priorities: “The success of Asian countries in these rankings reflects the high value attached to education and the expectations of parents.” he told the BBC.
While Desire2Learn’s progress has been explosive in the post-secondary American market, it is still looking to replicate that success in the vast kindergarten to Grade 12 area. The company’s footprint is growing, with offices across North America, in Brazil, Singapore, London and now Melbourne.