Desire2Learn Expands to US, Picks Boston for Headquarters

Canada-based Desire2Learn is expanding its operations into United States and has announced the location for its US-based headquarters: Boston. To gain a foothold in the US market, earlier this year D2L bought out Wiggio, a mobile app maker, the Boston Globe’s Gail Waterhouse reports.

Desire2Learn allows schools and teachers to store course management and academic materials in the cloud. Wiggio’s app, which provides similar collaborative functionality to college students, will be integrated into the company’s main product Desire2Learn Learning Suite. The Suite allows teachers to post grades and course documents while providing students with a way to take notes and communicate with their instructors and peers.

In addition to being the location of the new headquarters – which will house a total of 10 staff members to start – the city played host to the company’s Fusion 2013 annual conference that brings 1,000 clients and education/technology representatives together.

In September, Desire2Learn raised $80 million in its first round of venture capital funding, the largest-ever investment in a Canadian software company. It added 300 employees in the last year alone, swelling its ranks to 800.
The Canadian software business has partnered with educational publishing companies such as Pearson Education, and more recently, McGraw Hill Education, to make textbooks and other information available to students through the Desire2Learn suite.

“There’s a real overlap in terms of schools and teachers using Desire2Learn and McGraw Hill,” said Stephen Laster, chief digital officer of McGraw Hill. “Anything we can do to help make the life of a teacher or student better allows them to take that energy and focus it on teaching or learning.”

Boston has been a hot destination for the education technology sector. More than 200 startups are headquartered in the city, thanks to the close proximity to many major colleges and universities as well publishers and research institutions.

Desire2Learn has been enjoying an unprecedented rate of growth in the past 12 months, but the company was not without its foibles. Last year, the online learning and course management system at the University of Wisconsin – designed by D2L – was subject to persistent software glitches that puzzled the school’s IT professionals for close to a month.

The problems with the system have wide-ranging effects, as it is not only utilized by all 26 UW campuses, but is also used by the schools to manage all their online course offerings. Although the problem had been found as early as mid-summer, the recent uptick in users as students and professors are returning to campuses to begin classes has made it worse. –

07 23, 2013
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