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My Reflections on 2012 and Excitement for 2013

Categories: Corporate,

The new year, for me, always prompts a little reflection on the milestones of the past.  As someone for whom learning is not just a part of what I do but I think an essential way of being, I take the process of reflection seriously as a means to understand and evaluate the complex and ever changing world of education and technology that we all inhabit together.  I also look critically at the personal learning journey that I am on – the one that accompanies the nurturing and building of an organization.  And of course this leads to a series of ideas on how to approach the future and some exciting prospects that I look forward to as we enter 2013.

This was a big year for D2L and the momentum is picking up. We achieved another year of record growth adding many new clients and millions of learners.  We helped our clients migrate hundreds of thousands of their courses from other legacy systems to our next-generation learning system. We achieved well over 98% client retention and have been integrating client feedback through significant investments into our cloud infrastructure, services, products, and support.  We added offices around the world with teams now in Europe, Brazil, Singapore, Australia, the US, and Canada. We also took a major step this past year by raising $80M to close our very first round of funding – a huge validation for the company we have built and the team that has worked so closely with our clients over the years.  That we have become the partner of choice for many as they make this exciting transition is something I believe is rooted in the shared passion we have for learning and education.  A critical value and part of the culture of the organization that remains top of mind for me as we grow. 

Our approach to working with our clients – and viewing them as partners – is another critical element of what I see in our past and an important marker for the future.  Listening closely to our client requests and issues as we released numerous major enhancements to our Learning Suite last year and continuously improving on that throughout the year is rooted in a philosophy about how we work together to deliver the product that meets the needs of our users. 

As we look ahead to enabling the best possible personal learning experience, I’m excited to see continued leadership in accessibility and security –  breaking down barriers to access for all learners.  Our Student Success System went live with some beta users that demonstrated that our predictive modeling engine can accurately forecast student achievement and provide the data visualizations that can lead to the right interventions and the best overall outcomes.  Enhancements and new products also entered the fold:  Binder (personalized mobile content), iPad apps for offline assignment grading, new document viewer with drag-and-drop content, native video notes to complement our native audio attachments, lifelong access to the ePortfolio to help connect to lifelong learners, several new MOOCs with clients, CampusLife, Capture technology support for all platforms.  These are just a few examples of the progress we are making in creating a more engaged, activated lifelong learner that can be more easily supported by the teachers, instructors, executives, parents and other partners that make up the learning community.

I am excited to see how far we’ve come.  And I’m thoughtful about the true value of the technology – that it has been built through a combination of passion for learning, partnering with clients and the relentless focus on helping to enable the best possible personal learning experience for all.

A very special thank you to all of you, our team and of course our customers, partners, family, and friends for an outstanding year. 

I am looking forward to working with all of you in 2013!

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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