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Looking Back on 2013 and Forward to 2014

Categories: Corporate,

It’s hard for me to believe that we’re in the last month of 2013. As a company, we’ve grown so much in the last year. To me, reflection is an important part of moving forward and finding new ways to change the world around us. I see this year as a time of transformation defined by new leaders, directions, processes, products, services, acquisitions, and ultimately—new possibilities.

Our team has grown to over 750 people around the world, with new offices in Brazil, Europe, and the United States. Our Canadian presence expanded to include personnel in Toronto, St. John’s, and Vancouver. The existing office in Melbourne, Australia saw a large expansion, and the Singapore team continues to grow. This progression was built around one goal: to become a truly global company that strengthens relationships and provides the best possible support to our clients.

In that spirit, we hosted our biggest and most well-attended FUSION yet in Boston last July. We also hosted dozens of other conferences to engage with customers directly and participate in amazing showcases and best practices discussions. Witnessing our clients leverage new products and services to achieve learning outcomes and accessibility objectives is always inspiring. It’s our chance to hear their feedback and learn how we can help them continue to make the learning experience even better for their users.



Panel of industry experts at FUSION 2013 Sketch note of Alec Couros' keynote, copyright © Jenn Wicks FUSION 2013 social event at JFK Museum

We made major investments in our Cloud (SaaS) infrastructure and Semester Start program which resulted in us exceeding 99.9% uptime for the summer and fall semesters. We are the largest SaaS provider in our sector, with these successes setting us up to continue our industry-leading track record for Cloud service levels going forward. We welcomed hundreds of new clients and millions of new users, but more importantly, once again exceeded our target client retention rate of 98%.

These collaborations will continue to be a priority as we move into 2014 and pioneer a new vision for technology in learning that connects all the tools, services, and apps in a single solution. We call this an Integrated Learning Platform, and I believe it’s a monumental leap forward. This shift from course management to technology that delivers a pervasive, perceptive, and personal learning experience will have a truly transformative impact on teaching and learning.

Our Integrated Learning Platform is Personal, Perceptive and Pervasive

Of course, focusing on integration shouldn’t mean sacrificing innovation. We have more people focused on R&D for our Integrated Learning Platform alone than any of our competitors and, in some cases, more than they have in their entire company. We’ve released, on average, over a hundred new features and enhancements per month—all driven by client interaction, and making us the very clear innovation leader.

Responsive design web templates are now embedded in the platform so clients can create the most visually advanced and widely accessible content in any learning system today. Several new products have received international coverage for their impact on education, including our Student Success System™, LeaP adaptive learning system, and the Degree Compass™ tool. ePortfolio is now built for life, with 2GB of storage and a new mobile app. We introduced new ad-hoc group collaboration tools to support collaboration within and between organizations and teams on an ad-hoc basis at no additional cost to clients. Our new, open APIs through Valence have more than four hundred integration partners. And we also developed and released D2L Binder™, the industry’s only integrated eTextbook and eReading platform, supported by Binder Shop.

Dr. Jacob Bolotin AwardThese examples show how committed we are to supporting entire learning communities of learners, instructors, administrators, and all the other key stakeholders in learning. Helping every individual achieve their full potential has always been our defining objective, and in no area of education is this more important than accessibility. We remain the only accessible product in the market. I believe our clients can’t create the best learning experiences in the world, if they are leaving anyone behind. Receiving the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind was a proud moment that highlighted the human impact of our mission in a very meaningful way.

In 2014, we will build on this momentum with a focus on a single code line and implementing a continuous delivery model. Emphasizing the most modern technology in the industry, ease-of-use, accessibility, mobile tools, predictive modeling, and innovative learning experiences will also translate into tangible benefits for our clients. I’ve never been more confident in the vision, leadership, and teams we have in place.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff, customers, partners, and friends for an incredible year. I can’t wait to discover where our shared passion for learning will take us next.

I am looking forward to seeing all that we can accomplish together in 2014! Please enjoy the holidays and we look forward to working with you in the New Year!

All the best,


John Baker

John Baker

About John Baker

John founded Desire2Learn in 1999, at the age of twenty-two, while attending the University of Waterloo as a Systems Design Engineering student. A strong believer in community involvement, John devotes both his personal and business efforts to supporting young entrepreneurs who are developing and applying technology to improve society worldwide. He was a Waterloo Region Top 40 Under 40 award recipient in 2009, and was also inducted into the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame as an Intrepid Entrepreneur that same year. A four-time recipient of the Deloitte Technology Fast50 award in consecutive years (2006-2009), he was named the Waterloo Region's Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 and received the University of Waterloo Young Alumni Achievement Medal in 2010. In February 2013, John was appointed to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). As a prominent voice for both education and technology, he serves as Chairman of the Board at Communitech and also sits on the boards for both the National Ballet School (in Canada) and Canada's Technology Triangle (CTT). Additionally, he is an affinity board member for Memorial University and a University of Waterloo Alumni Council member. John graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Honours B.A.Sc. in Systems Design Engineering, with First Class Honours and an option in Management Sciences.

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