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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Ron Olsen, CEO of Remote Learner (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Jan 29th 2016

What kinds of technologies are missing from the portfolios of learning management systems that customers looking to launch online learning programs need? This is the subject of my conversation with Ron Olsen.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with some background about yourself as well as Remote Learner.

Ron Olsen: I’m the CEO of Remote Learner. Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve worked in a wide variety of industries and businesses. I’ve actually worked in the venture capital industry directly with a couple of VCs back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In general, I find myself having a deep appreciation for anybody who has actually started their own business regardless of how it got funded. I’ve actually started a few service-based companies myself.

In terms of my background, I’ve always had a passion for education and I taught entrepreneurship. I’m on the Board of an education-focused non-profit here in Colorado. When an opportunity to get involved with Remote Learner came up, it seemed to be a good blend of taking a company that has been around for a little while and growing it in new directions in an area which I’m passionate about.

Sramana Mitra: What is Remote Learner?

Ron Olsen: We have offices throughout the US and Canada. We focus on providing digital learning environments for the K-12, higher education, and the small to midsize business markets. We have a UK-based subsidiary that we divested last year. It’s providing those solutions in and around the needs of educators and folks who are administrating education programs, and providing the platform upon which learning happens.

In terms of our company, we generally use open source learning platforms. Moodle has been a large part of our DNA for a long time as an open source learning management system. We build solutions in and around that platform and others as well.

Sramana Mitra: You are a services firm that does learning systems for organisations such as K-12 and small businesses on top of other open source platforms. Is that what you’re saying?

Ron Olsen: We help out in a combination of ways for these learning programs. We do provide hosting and support for the learning management platform itself. Then we provide professional services around that platform to help with the design of learning programs to the implementation of the collective solutions that make those platforms more accessible and successful in getting learner engagement.

Sramana Mitra: Talk to me about the trends that you see in the online learning space. What are the three key trends that you are noticing in your client base?

Ron Olsen: A broader trend outside of the learning space that blends into our DNA is the open source movement. We pride ourselves in using a lot of open source technologies in the delivery of our services. We tend to be very collaborative within our market. As I look at what’s going on both in edtech as well as the open source community, I’m pleased to see that wave continue in the collaborative efforts.

Our business was founded upon providing these Learning Management Systems (LMS) predominantly in the traditional education space, and that’s where we started. Through the course of the last few years and as we look at what’s going on in 2016 and beyond, it’s clear that LMS has not been enough. There’s a big trend within the edtech space towards the integration of a variety of solutions and really looking at the overall learning ecosystem.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Ron Olsen, CEO of Remote Learner
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