MindXplore - School of Computing

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MindXplore - School of Computing
Online accelerated learning system with advanced content
in a social community for gifted students
M.Sc. in E-Commerce 2011
CA550
Laura Ferry
Terry O‘Brien
Brendan Phelan
Maeve Whooley
Project Title:
MindXplore Business Plan
Module Code:
CA550
Project Due Date:
8th August 2011
Declaration
We the undersigned declare that the project material, which we now submit, is our own work.
Any assistance received by way of borrowing from the work of others has been cited and
acknowledged within the work. We make this declaration in the knowledge that a breach of
the rules pertaining to project submission may carry serious consequences.
We are aware that the project will not be accepted unless this form has been handed in along
with the project
Student Name
Student ID
Signed
Maeve Whooley
10211166
_____________________________
Laura Ferry
10212704
_____________________________
Terry O‘Brien
90004876
_____________________________
Brendan Phelan
10212610
_____________________________
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Acknowledgements:
The MindXplore team would like to acknowledge the following people without whom the
project would not be possible:
Business Advisor:
Ms. Geraldine Lavin
Technical Advisor:
Dr. Markus Helfert
Practicum Advisor:
Dr. Cathal Gurrin
We would also like to thank all the various contributors to our research for giving their
valuable time and opinions:
Dr. Colm O‘Reilly, Director CTYI, DCU, Ms. Eleanor Cooke, CTYI Coordinator, DCU. Ms.
Emily Duffy, Maths Teacher, CTYI. CYTI Maths Students, DCU.
The parents involved in the focus groups from CTYI and the Gifted Advocacy Support group
in Wicklow.
Dr. Theo Lynn, DCU.
Ms. Ann Sheppard, Manager of St Conleth‘s College, Dublin. Mr John Nesbith, IT
Coordinator and Teacher at St. Mary‘s College. Mr Mike Travers, Director of FutureKids.
Mr. Kevin Johnson, Interim Director of International Group for Gifted Youth (IGGY) ,
University of Warwick, England.
Dr. Trudy Corrigan, Coordinator and Lecturer in the School of Education Studies DCU
Dr. Gavin McCullagh IT System Administrator, Griffith College, Dublin.
Mr. James Corbett, MissionV.
Mr. Ian Primrose and Mr. Patrick Lindstrom for their technical expertise.
Ms. Mary Henry, Certificate Accountant for reviewing the accounts.
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Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................................................... 7
BUSINESS CONCEPT .......................................................................................................................... 9
GIFTED AND TALENTED CHILDREN ............................................................................................................ 9
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION ............................................................................................................... 11
MINDXPLORE SYSTEM ............................................................................................................................. 11
OTHER FEATURES .................................................................................................................................... 15
ANALYSIS OF THE EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT .................................................................... 16
POLITICAL ................................................................................................................................................ 16
ECONOMIC ............................................................................................................................................... 19
SOCIETAL ................................................................................................................................................. 20
TECHNOLOGICAL ..................................................................................................................................... 21
ENVIRONMENTAL ..................................................................................................................................... 23
LEGAL ...................................................................................................................................................... 24
SUMMARY OF PESTEL: ........................................................................................................................... 25
INDUSTRY AND COMPETITOR ANALYSIS ............................................................................... 26
ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT .......................................................................................................... 26
GLOBAL ONLINE LEARNING MARKET...................................................................................................... 27
SUMMARY OF INDUSTRY ANALYSIS ......................................................................................................... 32
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS .......................................................................................................................... 33
SUMMARY OF COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS ................................................................................................... 35
MARKET ENTRY ANALYSIS ......................................................................................................... 36
PORTER‘S FIVE FORCES MODEL............................................................................................................... 36
DIFFERENTIATION .................................................................................................................................... 41
COST ........................................................................................................................................................ 41
FOCUS ...................................................................................................................................................... 41
TECHNOLOGY DISRUPTION STRATEGY .................................................................................................... 42
MINDXPLORE SWOT ANALYSIS ............................................................................................................. 43
SUMMARY OF MARKET ENTRY ANALYSIS ............................................................................................... 44
BUSINESS MODEL ............................................................................................................................ 45
CHOSEN BUSINESS MODEL ...................................................................................................................... 46
RESEARCH ......................................................................................................................................... 47
PRIMARY RESEARCH – QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH .................................................... 47
PARENTS – FOCUS GROUPS ...................................................................................................................... 48
STUDENTS – PRESENTATION & SURVEY................................................................................................... 49
SECONDARY RESEARCH ........................................................................................................................... 49
BUSINESS STRATEGY ..................................................................................................................... 50
MARKETING AND SALES STRATEGY ........................................................................................ 53
MARKET SIZE ........................................................................................................................................... 53
TARGET MARKET ..................................................................................................................................... 54
MARKET SEGMENTATION ........................................................................................................................ 54
PRODUCT ................................................................................................................................................. 55
PRICE ....................................................................................................................................................... 57
PROMOTION ............................................................................................................................................. 58
PLACE ...................................................................................................................................................... 70
PEOPLE..................................................................................................................................................... 70
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PROCESS .................................................................................................................................................. 70
MARKET RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ................................................................................................ 71
SALES PLAN ............................................................................................................................................. 72
TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP............................................................................................................. 73
VISION STATEMENT ................................................................................................................................. 73
SCOPE ...................................................................................................................................................... 73
STAKEHOLDERS ....................................................................................................................................... 73
CONCEPTUAL ARCHITECTURE .................................................................................................................. 74
MINDXPLORE SYSTEM ............................................................................................................................. 75
STAKEHOLDERS ....................................................................................................................................... 76
ACTORS AND GOALS ................................................................................................................................ 76
USAGE SCENARIOS ................................................................................................................................... 76
SOLUTION ARCHITECTURE ....................................................................................................................... 78
SYSTEM CONFIGURATION ........................................................................................................................ 78
SCALABILITY ........................................................................................................................................... 83
FUTURE SYSTEM DEVELOPMENTS............................................................................................................ 84
DESIGN RATIONALE ................................................................................................................................. 85
WEBSITE OVERVIEW ................................................................................................................................ 87
MY MX (MOODLE PAGE) ........................................................................................................................ 90
LIVE CLASSROOM – TEACHER VIEW ........................................................................................................ 91
USER PAYMENT PROCESS ........................................................................................................................ 92
ADMINISTRATOR USER REGISTRATION PROCESS ..................................................................................... 93
FUNDING ............................................................................................................................................. 94
SUMMARY OF ACTIVITY:.......................................................................................................................... 94
FUNDING OPTIONS ................................................................................................................................... 94
FINANCES ........................................................................................................................................... 96
FINANCIAL ASSUMPTIONS ........................................................................................................................ 96
PROFIT AND LOSS 2011-2014................................................................................................................. 100
CASHFLOW STATEMENTS (2011 - 2013)................................................................................................. 101
BALANCE SHEET (2011 - 2013) .............................................................................................................. 102
BREAK-EVEN ANALYSIS ........................................................................................................................ 103
RISK MANAGEMENT..................................................................................................................... 104
MANAGEMENT TEAM .................................................................................................................. 107
GENERAL MANAGER & SALES DIRECTOR– MR. BRENDAN PHELAN ...................................................... 107
TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR – MS. LAURA FERRY ...................................................................................... 107
MARKETING DIRECTOR – MS. MAEVE WHOOLEY ................................................................................. 108
FINANCIAL CONTROLLER & HR DIRECTOR – TERRY O‘BRIEN .............................................................. 108
MINDXPLORE PROJECT PLAN .................................................................................................. 109
PROJECT APPROACH & MILESTONES ..................................................................................................... 109
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES ........................................................................................................................ 110
SCOPE .................................................................................................................................................... 110
RISK ASSESSMENT ................................................................................................................................. 111
ASSUMPTIONS - PROJECT ASSUMPTIONS ................................................................................................ 112
CONSTRAINTS - PROJECT CONSTRAINTS ................................................................................................ 112
CRITICAL PROJECT BARRIERS ................................................................................................................ 112
PROJECT ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES................................................................................................. 113
PROJECT MANAGEMENT APPROACH ...................................................................................................... 114
ISSUE MANAGEMENT ............................................................................................................................. 115
COMMUNICATIONS PLAN ....................................................................................................................... 116
MINDXPLORE GANTT CHART ................................................................................................................ 116
CLIENT ENGAGEMENT PROCESS: ........................................................................................................... 117
TEAM SIGNATORY CODE ........................................................................................................................ 119
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CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................................. 120
CONCLUSION ..........................................................................................................................................120
FUTURE PLANS....................................................................................................................................... 120
APPENDIX A: COMPETITOR ANALYSIS .................................................................................. 121
APPENDIX B: RESEARCH ............................................................................................................. 129
SECONDARY RESEARCH ......................................................................................................................... 129
PRIMARY RESEARCH .............................................................................................................................. 131
PARENTS – FOCUS GROUPS .................................................................................................................... 132
STUDENTS – PRESENTATION & SURVEY................................................................................................. 135
RESEARCH ETHICS DECLARATION ......................................................................................................... 141
APPENDIX C: SALES CALCULATIONS ..................................................................................... 142
ESTIMATE TARGET MARKET .................................................................................................................. 142
SALES YEAR 1 CALCULATIONS: ............................................................................................................. 143
SALES YEAR 2 CALCULATIONS: ............................................................................................................. 144
SALES YEAR 3:....................................................................................................................................... 146
APPENDIX D: LEAVING CERTIFICATE MATHS STATISTICS ........................................... 148
APPENDIX E: FINANCIALS .......................................................................................................... 149
BIBLIOGRAPHY .............................................................................................................................. 154
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Executive Summary
In Ireland it is estimated that there are approximately 27,000 gifted and talented students
who, while often highly computer-literate, require constant feedback and social interaction in
order to thrive. The main provider of educational tuition, specifically designed for gifted
children in Ireland is the Centre for Talented Youth in Ireland (CTYI). Each year CTYI offer
non curriculum courses to approximately 5,000 students; charging up to €1,700 (e.g. for the
Residential Summer School).
Following extensive research and analysis, it became clear that there was a gap in the market
to provide a synchronous online learning platform to gifted children. As a result we have
developed an online system called ―MindXplore,‖
MindXplore will provide enhanced learning for gifted and talented children through
synchronous classes and collaborative and social interaction, moderated by experienced and
highly qualified teachers. Such a service is not currently provided by any firm in Ireland, in
the UK or, from our research, anywhere. The content, which will include curriculum and
higher level material for 12-18 year olds, will be designed to challenge, engage and
encourage students to reach their full potential. Other elements will include games, quizzes
and forums, in addition to instilling important study skills. Throughout the year, assignments
and learning material will be uploaded onto the site so that the students can continue to
engage with new content, in addition to reviewing recordings of previous classes and
materials.
The team behind MindXplore is Laura Ferry, Terry O‘Brien, Maeve Whooley and Brendan
Phelan who have years of experience of IT Development, Human Resources,
Marketing/Sales, and funding programmes for the educational sector respectively.
Based on our extensive primary and secondary research, we believe that a subscription
revenue model would best suit our product, and the MindXplore service will be provided to
gifted students for €250 per ten-week term (or €520 for a full 12 month subscription).
Parents / guardians of gifted children will be the subscribers of the MindXplore service, while
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their children will become members. As a member, students will receive twenty weeks of
synchronous classes, a special week-long Easter course, plus 52 weeks access to quizzes, new
content and a supervised forum. Once a week, students will be able to log on to MindXplore
and participate in a live class, asking questions, making observations and working online with
their fellow students.
Students can communicate (privately or otherwise) with their
moderators (teachers) using online chat and can use this same system for interacting with
others. Moderators can set assignments, create groups and deal with questions/suggestions
either during the live class or via the forum.
In the first year, we will be offering Maths for Junior and Senior Cycles. By Year 2, we will
be offering a range of 7 subjects for both Junior and Senior Cycles. By Year 3, we propose to
offer services to the UK (promoting our services primarily in Northern Ireland and England).
Our main competitors would be the face-to-face services offered by institutions such as CTYI
in Ireland, or the International Group for Gifted Youth (IGGY), based at the University of
Warwick in England. Online competitors would include the Khan Academy and University
of Oxford, but these do not offer their services synchronously. These also do not offer the
mix of services that we provide such as synchronous learning and a social community.
Our financial projections are purposefully conservative.
We estimate that an initial
investment of €16,000 will be required and, with a break-even point of 110 students in the
first year of trading, we expect to make a small loss of approximately €8,000 in that Year 1.
However, by Years 2 and 3, we will make a profit of over €47,000 and €71,000 respectively.
In order to do this, we will need to scale up the business appropriately to deliver a
comprehensive and valuable service to gifted students and their parents. While our preference
would be to work with partners, such as CTYI and/or IGGY, we believe that the financial
projections stand by themselves and that we have sufficient contacts with secondary schools
in Ireland, particularly private schools, to proceed by ourselves.
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Business Concept
According to Davis and Rimm (1998, p.278), the gifted or talented child who is
underachieving represents ―society‘s greatest loss and its greatest potential resource‖.
Such children have the potential for high achievement, and yet are not reaching the levels of
attainment that would be expected for their ability.
Gifted and Talented Children
A working definition that is accepted world-wide in educational and psychological circles is
that a ‗gifted‘ student shows exceptional ability in one area or more (e.g. mathematical,
verbal, spatial, musical, artistic, etc). The Report of the Special Education Review Committee
(Special Education Report Service 1993) defines gifted students in one the following areas:

general intellectual ability

specific academic aptitude

creative or productive thinking

leadership ability

visual and performing arts

mechanical aptitude

psychomotor ability (e.g. athletics, gymnastics)
According to Ms. Eleanor Cooke of CTYI (See Appendix B, p.132), there are estimated to be
over 27,000 children who fit the profile of "giftedness" in Ireland.
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Market Need
In order to assess the market need, research was conducted with the main stakeholders;
schools, teachers, parents and students. Details of this research can be found in Appendix B.
The results from our interviews with school staff and teachers indicated that gifted children
find it difficult to engage with their classes, were frustrated with the pace of learning and tend
to underachieve in exams.
Parents, who participated in our focus groups, said that their children often felt frustrated and
isolated, leading to under-achievement in school. They felt their children were not reaching
their full potential. They believed that the educational system had limited resources to support
these students.
Students surveyed said that they were concerned with the content of classes and the pace of
learning.
In response to these findings, there is a demand for a learning system offering social
interaction and new content for gifted students.
Business Solution
According to a report by Techspectations (2011), technology usage is high with gifted and
talented children (see PESTEL). An online system which can allow these children to be
challenged and engaged with subject matter, while instilling study skills in a social
environment of like-minded peers, could provide a timely solution to these issues.
As a result of secondary research and discussions with the main stakeholders, MindXplore
identified an opportunity in the market.
MindXplore is an online system designed for gifted and talented children. It will provide a
mix of classes, content and a social network for gifted students.
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Product Description
MindXplore System
MindXplore is an online product for gifted and talented youth providing content and a social
learning community. MindXplore is:

Synchronous

Asynchronous

Collaborative

Social

Accelerated

Game-based
Other features include:

High quality and challenging content

Qualified and experienced moderators

Feedback and certification


Collaboration
Social




Asynchronous
Accelerated
Synchronous
Game Based
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Synchronous Learning
Synchronous learning is real-time learning which occurs when all the participants are
involved at the same time and allows for interaction between students and teacher. This form
of learning is commonly supported by media such as video conferencing and chat. It enables
learners not to have be in the same place. Learners and teachers tend to find synchronous
e-learning as a more social learning option where they can feel like active participants rather
than being isolated and passive observers. (Hrastinski 2008)
To deliver synchronously, we will be utilising a moderator who will be online throughout the
session. Findings from the two focus groups involving parents showed that live lessons with
moderator supervision would be an important element in the system. (See Appendix B,
p.133)
Asynchronous Learning
Online asynchronous learning is commonly facilitated by media such as e-mail and
discussion boards, and supports a working environment among learners and teachers, even
when participants are not online at the same time. Asynchronous e-learning makes it possible
for learners to log on to an online environment at any time and download documents or send
messages to teachers or peers. Students may spend more time refining their contributions,
which are often more thoughtful compared to synchronous communication. (Hrastinski 2008)
From our research we found that, for some parents, finding a set time for their children to be
involved in a class might be problematic on occasions. Having a system where students
could also access material at any time would be appealing. (See Appendix B, p.133)
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Collaboration-Based Learning
Collaboration-based Learning involves human-to-human collaboration and mentoring. As a
knowledge-transfer method, it requires the interaction between two or more people.
Consequently the use of synchronous collaboration platforms is the defining pedagogical
characteristic of Collaboration-based Learning. (Ambient Insight 2011)
MindXplore will provide students with the opportunity to work with other students, located
around the country, on tasks and assignments during the live session and at other times. This
will be done by using tools such as instant chat and a forum.
Social Learning
Social Learning can be defined as the process of socialisation and education related to
personal, interpersonal and problem-solving skills and competencies (Zins 2001).
It is not about push or pull - it is a constantly evolving experience and, above all, it is about
community (Ambient Insight 2011).
From research undertaken, it is apparent that a key area of concern for parents of gifted
children is their child‘s sense of isolation from others due to their giftedness. The parents
stressed that this issue should be addressed as an essential component in the system where the
students would feel that they were mixing with peers in an online social community.
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Accelerated Learning
The main feature of this type of learning is a compressed course format which provides the
same content and learning outcomes as a traditional semester-long course in a shorter time
period. This method of learning can be innovative, productive and attractive but quite a
demanding format. However, we believe that due to the characteristics of gifted and talented
children, this method of product delivery best matches the users. (Ambient Insight 2011)
From the primary research, it was clear that many gifted youth are frustrated in the school
system due to the pace of learning – at one of the focus groups, a teacher of gifted children
stated that ―25-50% of gifted children‘s time is spent waiting for the rest of the class to catch
up, which leads to boredom‖ (See Appendix B, p.133). We want to provide a system which
allows academically able or gifted children to progress more rapidly through content.
Game-based Learning
The aim of Game-based Learning is to provide a user with a gaming experience that results in
a change in behaviour (learning) that can be recalled later (memory.) This type of learning is
designed to alter behaviour attributed to developmental or cognitive challenges. It can also be
used to moderate inappropriate behaviour in areas of diversity, team building, and leadership
(Ambient Insight 2011).
Through the use of games, quizzes and puzzles, MindXplore will be supplying content that
will challenge and engage gifted students.
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Other Features
Programme Content
MindXplore will offer an original approach to content which includes a mix of curriculum
and exam material along with original content incorporating other disciplines and student
interaction. Content for teaching is adaptable and can be drawn from current topics and real
life examples. From our research, a key area of concern for children and educators was how
to improve exam performance, so we will incorporate study skills in the classes. Also it is
important that the content is not repetitive and challenges the students
Moderators
The moderators will be PhD students and/or academics who specialise in the subject area
being taught and will have a deep understanding of the content matter. These moderators may
be sourced through CTYI, as they have experience of both the subject matter and of teaching
gifted and talented children.
The moderator will supervise all activities, ensuring that appropriate behaviour takes place
online and that there is full participation from all the students.
Feedback and Certification
Based on research with parents who participated in focus group interviews, a feedback
system will be included. The child will be praised regularly for their work and participation
by the moderator and/or through regular reports. We will also include a certificate upon
completion of each term.
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Analysis of the External Environment
An analysis of the external environment will enable to us to understand the opportunities and
challenges involved in commercialising MindXplore.
Aspects relating to Society,
Technology, the Environment, the Economy, Political and Legal issues are examined.
Political
Second Level Education in Ireland
In Ireland, the second-level education sector consists of secondary, vocational, community
and comprehensive schools. In addition to Primary and Third-level education, it is managed
by the Department of Education and Skills (DoE&S 2011a). In the latest statistics issued by
the Department of Education and Skills, there were 812,229 students in Irish Primary and
Secondary Schools. By itself, second-level education (for 2009/10) in Ireland consisted of:
Students
313,136
Schools
739
Teachers
25,803
(357,459 students were enrolled for 2010/11)
(DoE&S 2011b)
Gifted and Talented Students in Ireland
Founded in DCU in 1992, the Centre for Talented Youth in Ireland (CTYI) is a branch of
CTY International and provides extra-curricular enrichment to students aged 6-16 as well as
guidance for parents and teachers. Its aim is to enable all talented students to reach their
potential both academically and socially by providing relevant and interesting challenges
based on ability and interest, rather than age. Since the first summer programme in 1993 over
35,000 students have participated in programmes.
Entry qualifications are based on
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and eligibility for CTYI requires a score above the
th
95 percentile on a standardised mathematical or verbal reasoning test. 68% of children fall
into the average ability range (IQ between 85-115), 14% are below or above average (IQ of
70-85 or IQ of 115-130), and only 2% fall into the very high range of 145+ (CTYI 2011a).
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Wechsler Intelligence Scale - (Source : CTYI, 2011a)
CTYI offers a variety of programmes, residential and non-residential, along with online
correspondence courses. Students can study subjects such as Psychology, Medicine in the
Laboratory, Archaeology, Engineering and Game Theory at a level equivalent to first-year
university standard in a fast-paced but supportive atmosphere. Classes for younger students
include Aeronautical Engineering, Greek and Roman Mythology and Film Studies, and
classes take place in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Letterkenny and Waterford.
The CTYI have estimated that there are approximately 27,000 gifted and talented children
currently in Ireland, for which it provides services to approximately 5,000 annually. From
the Department of Education‘s statistics, it is reasonable to estimate that there are over 11,000
secondary school students who qualify as ‗gifted‘ (See p.53).
Education in the UK
The table below indicates the extent of the educational infrastructure in the UK:
Secondary Schools
England
Students
3,127
3,055,460
Northern Ireland
219
147,759
Scotland
372
301,017
Wales
223
203,907
3,941
3,708,143
OVERALL UK
(Source: CILT 2011)
17
From 2007 statistics from PLASC (Pupil Level Annual School Census), it was estimated that
there were 411,280 gifted secondary students in the United Kingdom (PLASC 2007).
Provision of public funding for gifted and talented students continues to be a highly political
issue in the UK. The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth was created in
Warwick University in 2002 to provide support, master classes and summer schools for more
than 200,000 children and training for thousands of teachers in relation to gifted students. In
2007, a new Young, Gifted and Talented Learners Academy was opened to provide gifted
children between 4-19 years of age, with access to online and face-to-face lessons and
training. Nine hubs for this Academy were established around the country to provide out-ofschool activities for children who were identified by teachers as being in the top 10% of the
school's ability range. However, this was scrapped in 2010 (as funding was withdrawn), and
now it is now up to individual schools to provide special services for gifted students although
this provision has been described as ―inconsistent‖ and without any ring-fenced funding
(Henry 2010).
Education in the USA
Education in the United States is controlled and funded at federal, state and local levels.
Policies and funding are chiefly set by locally elected school boards. Children must be
educated in public schools, state-certified private schools or through an approved homeschooling programme (infousa 2011).
The National Association for Gifted Children in the US estimates that there are
approximately 3 million academically gifted children in grades K-12 (i.e. Kindergarten to the
final 12th grade in High School) in the U.S., which accounts for approximately 6% of the
student population. As there are no official statistics on this group (e.g. no statistics collected
by any federal agency or organisation), this estimate is generated based on the 1972 Marland
Report to Congress, which estimated that 5-7% of school children are "capable of high
performance" and in need of "services or activities not normally provided by the
school"(NAG 2008).
In its 2010 US Statistics report, The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were 16.3
million students in grades 9 to 12. One can extrapolate that there are approximately 978,000
Gifted and Talented High School students in this age range (US Census 2011).
18
Economic
In a recent OECD report published on the state of education (Education at a Glance 2010)
Ireland is close to the bottom of the international league table on education spending relative
to economic wealth. In 2007, Ireland invested approximately 4.9% of its GDP on education
compared to an OECD average of 5.2%. For expenditure on primary, secondary and nontertiary education, the figure for Ireland equates to 3.8% of GDP or 10% of total public
expenditure - with the OECD average being 3.5% and 8.8% respectively (Taylor 2010).
Cumulative expenditure by educational institutions per student for all services over the
theoretical duration of primary and secondary studies (2007) in Ireland is approximately
€39,250 ($55,205) for primary school students and €36,600 ($51,558) for secondary students
(Taylor 2010).
In the United Kingdom, expenditure on primary, secondary and non-tertiary education (2007)
equates to 4.1% of GDP or 8.9% of total public expenditure. UK cumulative expenditure by
educational institutions per student for all services over the theoretical duration of primary
and secondary studies (2007) is €35,100 ($49,333) for primary students and €42,000
($57,796) for secondary students (OECD 2011).
In the USA, expenditure on primary, secondary and non-tertiary education (2007) equates to
3.7% of GDP or 9.9% of total public expenditure. US cumulative expenditure by educational
institutions per student for all services over the period of primary and secondary studies is
higher with approximately €43,500 ($61,377) spent on primary education and approximately
€48,200 ($67,950) on secondary education (OECD 2011).
Interestingly, while many sectors have been aversely affected by the global recession, public
spending on education has faired better than many. Indeed, in the US, research has shown
that while public education accounted for 46% of the total state budget in 2008, this has
actually increased (as a proportion of total spending) and is estimated to account for 51% by
2012. That said, it is reasonable to envisage that spending in education is likely to fall in real
terms as governments look for new ways increase the return on their investments in the sector
(Senatesite 2011).
19
Societal
According to the OECD Education at a Glance 2010 report, Ireland has the seventh-highest
graduation rate among industrialised countries, placing it ahead of the UK and the US. Irish
teachers teach 735 hours per annum compared with European average of 661 hours. In
addition to this, the student-teacher ratio in secondary schools in Ireland is higher than the
average among other European member countries (OECD 2011).
In his analysis on the OECD report, Charlie Taylor of the Irish Times (2010) highlighted how
a man with third-level qualifications will generate approximately $119,000 (€93,000 approx)
more in income taxes and social contributions over his working life than someone with just a
secondary level of education, reinforcing the assumption that the investment in education is a
good long-term investment (Taylor 2010).
A number of studies have collected a checklist of the most frequently occurring socioemotional problems in gifted children:

Difficulty with social relationships and isolation from peers

Conformity pressures - hiding or down-playing talents to gain acceptance from peer group

Anxiety, depression, and difficulty in accepting criticism

Resistance to authority and excessive competitiveness

Difficulty in understanding the nature and significance of intellectual differences

Intellectual frustration in day-to-day and life situations

Confusion and stress in considering a future vocation or career, especially where the student
has a diversity of interests and talents

Difficulty in developing a satisfying philosophy of life.
(Delisle 1992; Landrum 1987; Silverman 1983).
In an interview with Emily Duffy, a teacher of maths to gifted children in CTYI (See Appedix B,
p.131), she observed that they get bored easily and are isolated both socially and geographically
from their peers. This was also highlighted by both parent focus groups where they reported that
gifted children are frustrated academically in school, leading to difficulties in the classroom (See
p.48).
20
Technological
The Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge Research Centre (LInK) conducted quantitative
research among gifted and talented students enrolled in CTYI in 2009. The purpose of this
research was to understand the role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in
the daily life and school learning experience of Ireland‘s gifted youth. Some key findings of
the research were:

The typical CTYI student owns six electronic devices, including mobile phones
(96%), portable audio players (87%), desktop PCs (82%), printers (82%), game
consoles (82%), and digital video cameras (79%).

Most CTYI students connecting to the Internet use a home broadband connection
(87%), and only 5% use a dial-up connection.

CTYI students spend on average at least five hours per week listening to music on a
personal music player (60%), watching TV (53%) and using text messaging from
their mobile phones (50%). Listening to music is more common among older than
younger students, while text messaging is more common among females than males.

CTYI students use the Internet at home mainly for communication (86%) and
entertainment (82%). However, a substantial percentage of students (79%) also use
the medium for school-related, as well as non-school-related, learning activities,
particularly in Ireland (Alexopoulos et al. 2011).
The recently published OECD Programme for International Student Assessment Report
(PISA 2011) indicates that the student access to technology is not facilitated by schools but, if
anything, is more limited by schools (OECD 2011c). This report has found that on average
students have greater access to computers at home than they do at school.
Students: Home computer Access
Students: School computer Access
OECD average
92.3%
74.2%
Ireland
93.2%
62.9%
Australia
96.7%
91.6%
New Zealand
92.5%
83.4%
21
The advent of flexible learning (including blended learning, e-learning, and open and distance
learning) has already become part of Irish education, albeit mainly in third-level institutions.
UNESCO defines Open and Distance Learning (ODL) as teaching that is conducted by
someone removed in space and time from the learner, and that the mission aims are to include
greater dimensions of openness and flexibility, whether in terms of access, curriculum or
other elements of structure (UNESCO 2002).Open universities have emerged, attracting new
learners, and traditional universities have also begun to offer programmes through distance
learning in addition to more tradition campus based learning. Improvements in bandwidth
and broadband have enabled students to access programmes, using Virtual Learning
Environments (VLEs), video and audio resources.
Most staff and students in third level education sector are now using VLEs to for courses and
programmes. While the commercial (e.g. Blackboard) were originally the VLE of choice of
Irish institutions, within the past few years most Irish Higher Education Institutes have opted
to use Moodle, a public domain VLE, for emails, messaging, online tutorials and assignment
setting and collection (HEA 2009).
Developments in Web 2.0 technologies have increased the flexibility by which students can
access information from university programmes, and have enabled a greater element of
collaborative participation between teachers and students.
In the publication, The Edgeless University, Peter Bradwell writes that with an increasing
diversity of students and student needs, fierce competition, and a crunch on funding, there are
also great opportunities. The internet, social networks, collaborative online tools that allow
people to work together more easily, and open access to content are both the cause of change
for universities, and a tool with which they can respond (Bradwell 2009).
Another important influence on educational technologies is the increasing availability of open
educational resources (OER). These are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside
in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits
their free use or repurposing by others (Atkins et al. 2007). Examples of these resources
include Merlot (http://www.merlot.org), OER Commons (http://www.oercommons.org), and
YouTube.edu.com in the US, and Intute (http://www.intute.ac.uk) in the United Kingdom.
22
Potentially the area of cloud computing could have an impact on the use of ICT in education.
According to Mr. Paul Rellis on the IDA website www.idaireland.com, the current MD of
Microsoft Ireland said in a Goodbody Economic Consultant Report on the Irish Economy in
January 2011, that Cloud computing is a fundamental shift that business, the public sector
and Government now have the opportunity to change how they run their organisations, how
services are delivered, how they scale an operation - while increasing efficiencies and
reducing costs.
Advantages of using the cloud include scalability, cheaper costs, improved performance,
instant software updates, independent device and mobility. Disadvantages include legacy
issues, the need for fast broadband and security.
According to the Goodbody report on the website www.idaireland.com, even on a restrictive
basis, the global market for Cloud Computing is expected to reach approximately between
€40bn and €110bn by 2014 from a current size of approximately €12bn.
Over the next few years, there is rapid growth planned in Ireland in the area of broadband.
This will facilitate better access to Cloud Computing and connectivity of customers.
Environmental
There would be few, if any, major constraints relating to the environment or ecology in the
development and use of the MindXplore service. Potentially, online and distance learning
programmes may even increase in popularity as awareness grows of climate change and the
importance of reducing fuel consumption involved in travel (e.g. travel involved in physically
attending courses etc.)
23
Legal
In the provision of any platform by which students (of different ages) have the capacity to
communicate and interact with each other, there will be health and safety considerations and
possible legal obligations relating to cyber bullying (including harassment, stalking, or even
exclusion), data/identity protection, privacy and the overall appropriate use of the system.
It is an area of contention whether schools have the authority (or a legal obligation) to
interfere in the behaviour or speech of students that occurs away from campus, although in
the US at least, there has been some consensus that they do have this authority and obligation
when the behaviour off‐campus results in a ―clear disruption” of the school environment
(J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District 2000).
It may also be advisable for MindXplore to seek Garda vetting for all personnel associated
with it. Garda vetting is conducted for personnel working in a full-time, part-time, and
voluntary or student placement capacity in a registered organisation, in which they have
unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. It is a free service conducted by the
Garda Central Vetting Unit in Thurles, Co. Tipperary (Garda 2011).
The issues of privacy and data protection may also arise with regard to the use of Cloud
Computing (CC). Some of these are perception issues over who owns the data and how much
risk is involved with using CC. Risk is viewed as the possibility of loss of confidential data,
or the destruction, generation or use of fatal programmes that physically, mentally or
financially harm another party as well as hard hardware (Greenstein & Vasarhelyi 2002).
Some possible problems for example are geographically locations of data centres (however
both Microsoft and IBM have data centres in Ireland). Credibility issues are relevant, that ask
pertinent questions about adequate security of the CC service provider as well the legal issue
of privacy of personal data. European legislation in the form of the EU data protection
directive has been passed that legally enforces that the highest standards of customers are met
for data protection and privacy from any computer facility, whether contracted to a third
party or in-house system (Directive 95/46/EC). However given that CC services are being
provided by very large IT companies, users should take comfort that security and data
protection will be as good or better than could be provided through any data centre.
24
Summary of PESTEL:
The PESTEL analysis shows greater acceptance of virtual learning environments, high access
to PCs/Broadband and continued investment in education. Overall, the external environment
of MindXplore appears positive to a technologically based innovation in the education and
gifted sector.
Political
Supporting gifted children can be a contentious political issue due
to misconceptions that they do not require additional support.
Economic
Despite the recession, spending on education is seen as a good
investment for the future.
Societal
A definite need for providing targeted educational services for
gifted children exists. Gifted students often have learning
difficulties that are not met by traditional education.
Technological
Over 93% of Irish students already use a computer at home with
features like online video, forums and instant messaging services.
87% of CTYI students already have broadband access.
VLEs are becoming more commonplace in schools and colleges.
Open Education Resources (OERs) are becoming more available to
students and educational institutions.
Environmental
Online and distance learning can have a positive effect on the
environment with reduced need for travel and printing.
Legal
Concerns about issues relating to cyber bullying, child and identity
protection could be managed through supervision and vetting.
25
Industry and Competitor Analysis
Online Learning Environment
Introduction
To gain an insight into the online learning industry, it is important to understand what is
meant by e-Learning, the state of the market on a global, UK and Ireland basis and to
examine the different types of markets within this industry.
Definition of e-Learning
Allen, in his book, Creating Successful e-Learning believes the term e-Learning applies to
the broad range of ways computing and communication technologies can be used for teaching
and learning (Allen 2006).
The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online learning:
Advantages
Disadvantages
Anytime, anywhere access to learning
Lack of face to face contact
Cost reductions
Working alone rather than in a classrooom
Reaching larger markets
Teaching skills (compared to theory) online
More effective learning
Authentic assessment
Self-paced learning
Poor broadband caneffect its usability
Flexibility
Students need to be self-motivated
Source: www..elearnspace.org and www.dso.iastate.edu
26
Global Online Learning Market
Global Industry Analysts Inc. released a global report on the e-Learning market in 2010
where they announced that the market is projected to reach $107.3bn by 2015. They believe
this is due to reduced operational costs, flexibility in learning activities and simplified
training programmes. This market is amongst the most rapidly growing sectors in the
worldwide education and training industry.
Continuous development over the years has allowed e-Learning to emerge as an important
medium for learning, where companies can reduce costs by centralising content. One key
benefit over conventional methods is the fact that there is access to learning anytime and
anywhere (Global Industry Analysts 2010).
It is believed that the global economic downturn could be advantageous to the Educational
and Training sector, with many people turning to education as a means of upskilling or retraining. The growing cost pressure and the need for ensuring the provision of education or
training activity during the recession, is fueling the adoption of e-Learning initatives towards
more technology-led learning due to growth of global tech-savy users (Global Industry
Analysts 2010).
According to the GIA survey e-Learning is now the second most employed method for
imparting learning in organisations by hours of learning (Global Industry Analysts 2010).
This is a significant increase over recent surveys and reflects the growing adoption of eLearning globally.
The US and Europe dominate the global e-Learning market with a 70% share of the revenue.
The growth of the e-Learning market is also a result of growing internet usage and reduced
telecommunicaion costs. Also the rapid growth of interactive tools such as social networks
and Web 2.0 technologies, is also influential in the learning landscape. This market is
characterised by a high degree of fragmentation and involves the participation of key and
niche players and markets. Examples of this include companies such as Blackboard Ins,
Edvantage Group, Oracle Corporation (Kineo Group 2010).
27
Figure 1: Learning Technology Research Taxonomy (Source: Ambient Insight's 2011)
However, there are a number of challenges that face e-Learning businesses:
Economic Downturn
The global economic recession has lead to pressures on companies to save on costs and also
to generate more value at the same cost. These pressures have led organisations to react in
varied ways – downsizing, budget cuts, even training cost cutting, across the board salary
revisions, etc. On the one hand there is the pressure to reduce costs, and on the other there is a
need to up-skill and re-skill employees to generate more value and productivity (Gautam
2010). This has impacted on e-Learning companies who have had to provide different
solutions as a reaction to this change in customer behaviour.
Another impact of the recession might be the need to consider new revenue models and
payment methods to take account of the financial constraints of customers.
28
Adoption in Schools
In E-learning policy and the 'transformation' of schooling: a UK case study, Mee (2007) asks
the question why the so-called ‗ICT transformation‘ of UK schools failed to happen. He
identified the ‗compliance and risk aversion‘ culture of teaching staff to be a significant
barrier. He found that in a culture of centrally defined ‗good teaching practice‘ that was
externally scrutinised on a constant basis, schools and teachers were not adequately
incentivised to take the necessary risks required in order to innovate and progress their
teaching methods by integrating ICT. The report suggests that strategies that reward
innovation should be considered in order to encourage ICT integration, rather than operating a
system of such tight control and constant surveillance of perceived failures (Mee 2007).
Increased Competition
The landscape for technology supported learning has shifted considerably over the last few
years. The technology of the internet has provided companies with the ability to rapidly create
and set up training programmes to global audiences. According to Kaliski et al (2008, p.105)
many leading companies are ―seeking increasingly advanced solutions to bring their missioncritical training to the Web. We‘re in the midst of an e-Learning revolution, which brings
with it rapid change, a myriad of emerging technologies, an incomplete and competing set of
standards, and greater opportunities to generate significant business returns on eLearning
investments.‖
Confusion Due to Change
Rapid change, shifting functionality and standards, along with the proliferation of products
can be confusing to organisations that are looking to implement e-Learning solutions. (Kaliski
et al. 2008).
29
E-Learning Industry in Ireland
John T. Chambers who was CEO of Cisco Systems in 1999 said that ―The biggest growth in
the Internet, and the area that will prove to be one of the biggest agents of change, will be in
e-Learning. Education over the internet is so big it's going to make e-mail look like a
rounding error‖.
In Ireland, the e-Learning industry has grown considerably since the early 1980s. In the mid
2000s, e-Learning was experiencing dramatic growth. According to the market analysts IDC,
the European e-Learning market was set to reach $3.9 billion by the end of 2004 – more than
ten times its value at the beginning of the decade. It stated that the worldwide e-Learning
market is expected to reach $23.7 billion by 2006 (IDC Report 2004).
Forfás (2004) identified e-Learning as a digital content sector with a high opportunity for
growth in Ireland. Early entry into this market has meant that ireland has developed a strong
international reputation and it is believed that this can continue to be exploited to ensure the
future growth of the sector and a significant share of the EU market. (Kelly et al 2004)
There are over 25 companies in Ireland employing over 600 people with a turnover of €250
million. The Irish eLearning industry was identified by Enterprise Ireland as having high
growth potential in the Enterprise Ireland Annual Report and Accounts 2005 (Enterprise
Ireland, 2005). Deirdre O‘Neill from Enterprise Ireland stated that e-Learning is a successful
industry in Ireland and remains an important sector to Enterprise Ireland. We believe that the
market for e-Learning solutions will continue to grow and Irish companies will remain key
players in the industry.
Successful Irish e-learning companies include CBT Systems (later renamed SmartForce),
Houghton
Mifflin
Harcourt
(previously
RiverDeep)
and
ThirdForce
(www.irishlearningalliance.net, 2005).
However due to the economic downturn some Irish e-Learning companies have experienced
financial difficulties and have either had to cut jobs or close down. This includes Thomson
NETg, SkillSoft (formerly SmartForce), Educational Multimedia Group (EMG) and
Unlimited and Friendly Design Software (FDS).
30
UK E-Learning Market
The UK E-Learning Report 2009 (for Learning Light) estimated that the UK market was
worth between £300 million and £450 million with forecasted growth of 6%-8% in 2010.
They believed that this growth rate was a result of large and small businesses and educational
institutions seeking to deliver their learning in a smarter and more cost effective manner.
Growth has also resulted in an increasing number of companies entering the market who see
e-Learning as either their primary source of business or as part of a wider HR service.
The report highlights the industry‘s ability to adopt, adapt, and exploit new and ever
improving technologies into the e-Learning mix, from Web 2.0 and social networking
functionality through to mobile learning. Vast improvements in mobile technology have
driven a huge surge in smartphone sales. (Epic 2009)
Global Tutoring Market
According to Global Industry Analysts Inc., the global private tutoring market is forecast to
surpass $152 billion by 2015. They believe that this industry's growth is primarily attributed
to the inability of a standard education system to address the unique needs of each student.
Each student differs from the other in terms of comprehension, calibre and ability and
existing education systems around the world seem unable to offer the individual attention that
is required. As a result, private tutoring has become very important for students and parents,
as the approach provides an individual, innovative, and personal education system to students.
With higher education being associated with increased opportunities, higher salaries and
social standing, parents invest heavily in children's education to improve future prospects.
Online tutoring and offshore tutoring are gaining popularity across the world as both a
supplement and an alternative to physical coaching classes. India has emerged as a key player
in the outsourcing of online tutoring services. The online tuitions industry in India is well
structured, professional and comprises of tutors with core linguistic and academic
capabilities, and superior performance and dedication levels as compared to other tutors
worldwide. The availability of quality tutors offering services at affordable costs is one of the
primary
factors
for
India's
significant
presence
in
the
e-tutoring
market.
(www.toplearningonline.blogspot.com 2010)
31
Summary of Industry Analysis
Based on this evaluation of the e-Learning and Online Tutoring industry, there are many
challenges facing MindXplore which include:

Keeping up with technological change

Competing against established brands or companies with more resources

Increased competitive activity both in Ireland and internationally where existing eLearning companies could augment their products by targeting the gifted and talented
market

Reduction in spend by consumers in e-Learning, due to economic constraints

Schools and government resistance to e-Learning systems and change in teaching
practice
However there are also opportunities for MindXplore such as:

Becoming a market leader in a niche market which may be too small for bigger eLearning companies

Exploiting access to this market through CTYI and building a mutually beneficial
relationship increasing reach and credibility

Focusing on the educational and social benefit of the system to the parents of gifted
youth in a market that offers meagre support and resources
32
Competitive Analysis
E-Learning Market in Ireland
For over 30 years, Ireland's leading e-Learning companies have provided high quality
products and services to a global audience. Below is an illustration of the main companies
during this time:
Figure 2: Timeline of Irish eLearning Environment (http://www.irishlearningalliance.net/about/history)
See Appendix A for a summary of the key players in eLearning for school children in Ireland,
UK and US.
Online Tutors and Grinds
We believe that this market could be seen as a competitor to MindXplore in terms of:

Share of wallet for parents – money already spent by these services

Already used by friends and/or family

Exam preparation vehicle

Established study aid in the schools market.
(A summary of the online tutors and grinds market in Ireland can be found Appendix A)
33
Gifted and Talented Youth Market
MindXplore‘s main competitor in the Irish market is CTYI, which is the market leader and
sole provider of programmes for gifted and talented children in Ireland. However CTYI does
not deliver online classes or provide a social network online. MindXplore can therefore be a
system that can complement CTYI‘s programmes and thus give students the opportunity to
do both. Also, when interviewed as part of the primary research, CTYI stated that they are
aware that a large part of the gifted market is not being serviced by CTYI, be it for economic
or geographic reasons. Thus there is scope to provide an online, cost effective service to this
market offering accelerated learning with high quality and challenging content. MindXplore
propose to use some of teachers and adapt some of the content already used by CTYI, as
these have been already been tested and approved by the market.
From the primary research (involving parents and children) that was undertaken, the
following were reported as possible online competitors:

Kahn Academy - delivers self-paced learning tool in a maths, physics, finance, and
history which is free of charge. This is done through an extensive video library,
practice exercises, and assessments with feedback via YouTube.com.

In the USA, some universities and partners include:
o John Hopkins University and CTY with www.cogito.net -
free online
community with games, tools, podcasts, blogs, news updates in maths and
science, and online distance learning courses
o Standford with its EPGY programme which offers online courses across a range
of subject which ranges in price from $495- $600 per term.

In the UK, the University of Oxford delivers online (asynchronous) tutorials and
master-classes to high-ability youngsters, aged 8-17, across the globe. Contributors
include academics, tutors and post-doctoral researchers. It also offers an online social
community for the students through the Da Vinci Group. The courses are priced at
£65-150 per student with membership of the Da Vinci Group (social community) at
£29.99 per month.
Table 3 in the appendices summarises the companies that could be viewed as potential
competitors to MindXplore that offer resources and services online.
34
MindXplore are aware that there are new products entering the market all the time, one such
service is The Maths Factor which is linked to UK TV presenter, Carol Vorderman. Although
this is currently aimed at primary children in the UK, there is a possibility that it could
diversify into the secondary school market (including other countries) and deliver more
advanced content. It is thus important to keep constantly abreast of competitive activity in
terms of pricing, delivery of the product, product features, branding, etc. in order to be able to
inform product development and diversification.
Gifted and Talented Market – Favourable/Unfavourable Industry Position
Competitive
Favourable / Attractive
Unfavourable /
Factor
Market
Unattractive Market
Few - high growth
Competitors
industry
Many - low bargaining
Power of customers power
Power of suppliers
Few, high bargaining power
Power of
substitutes
Few
Threat of new
entrants
High - low barrier to entry
Summary of Competitive Analysis
From this competitor analysis of the gifted and talented market, MindXplore believes that it
has a competitive advantage in this market in Ireland with its unique system offering
synchronous and collaborative learning taught at an accelerated pace within a social
community, accessible at all times and priced at a competitive rate – as little as €10 per week.
35
Market Entry Analysis
As a means of informing the business strategy for MindXplore, we evaluated the market
forces to determine which resources and capabilities have the potential to be a source of
competitive advantage, specifically examining:
1. Porter‘s Five Forces
2. Technology Disruption Strategy
3. SWOT Analysis
Porter’s Five Forces Model
Bargaining
Power of
Suppliers
Threat of
Substitute
Products
Competitive
Rivalry
within an
Industry
Bargaining
Power of
Customers
Threat of
New
Entrants
36
Developed in 1979 by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, this framework has
become a technique for evaluating the competitive environment according to Tiernan, Morley
and Foley (2006, p.113). His basic premise is that the collective strength of five basic
competitive forces determines the return on capital potential in an industry and influences the
strategies available to firms in the industry.
Bargaining Power of Suppliers
The supplier has bargaining power particularly when the following factors are involved:
(1) high switching costs, (2) strong brand recognition of materials provided, (3) when the
business being supplied is not a vital customer or the leading firm in its industry; and (4) there
are little or no available substitutes for those supplies according to McGoldrick (2002, p.
138).
Implications for MindXplore:
As MindXplore is an online service, it does not need to be manufactured or designed. The
main area where supply material is required in the content for the courses which is produced
by the moderators of each subject. These moderators may be sourced from CTYI, from
universities, and from PhD students and academics. Therefore, there should be a good supply
of qualified people in Ireland and internationally who can supply material. Due to embargos
on hiring permanent staff in universities, it has become increasingly difficult for those with
PhDs to be employed as lecturers and this means that there is a strong pool of expertise
available.
Threat of New Entrants
When applying the five force framework, it is necessary to research the risk of new
competitors and the barriers they face in entering the market. These barriers can include brand
loyalty, cost advantages with production and greater economies of scale from existing
companies or organisations in the education industry, especially if they are already involved
in e-Learning or if they provide online tutoring or educational software.
37
Implications for MindXplore:

There are few barriers to entry. The development of online learning applications does
not require much in terms of costs, time and resources compared to producers of high
volume software or hardware, for example.

There are no significant economies of scales required to enter.

Entrants would have easy access to key inputs, such as technological knowledge and
expertise in the various subjects being taught in secondary schools.

The e-Learning market in Ireland had a turnover of €250 million in 2005. While there
is no current valuation of the market, it is still seen as a viable and profitable sector.
The UK market was valued at £300-450 million in 2011, and Global Industry
Analysts (2010) predicts the global market to reach $107.3 billion by 2015.

Existing education providers (offline and online) in the future could add a similar
product to MindXplore with similar feature (e.g. collaborative, synchronous learning)
for the gifted and talented market
There is much competition in the schools and education market both off and online with:

Online tutors

Grinds – either on a one-to-one basis or through group classes

Education resources and software in schools

Special programmes off and online for gifted and talented children
(See details of competition analysis in Appendix A)
38
Threat of Substitutes
This has been defined by Analoui and Karani as ―those products or services that appear to be
different but are not…[and which]… can satisfy the same needs as another product and hence
pose a threat to the existing product‖ (2003, p.83). The availability of substitutes can have
serious implications to a business by effecting its growth and revenue within the industry.
Implications for MindXplore:

Due to technological developments, enhancements and use of Web 2.0 technologies,
e-Learning products and services can be easily enhanced or substituted particularly
with different options in terms of route to market or pricing such as SaaS (Software as
a Service), free use in schools, using virtual worlds, etc.

MindXplore offers synchronous and collaborative learning taught at an accelerated
pace specifically designed for gifted and talented children. At present there is no
similar product in the Irish or English speaking market.

With regard to switching costs, brand loyalty is unlikely to be relevant in this market
as customers change year on year as the users grow up
Rivalry among Firms
In order to gain a competitive advantage within an industry it is necessary to allocate a
sizeable amount of the company‘s capital to marketing campaigns, promotions, advertising
etc. In knowledge based industries, performance features, quality, reliability, and service take
on a special meaning.
Implications for MindXplore:

Although there is a wide range of options available to secondary school students in
Ireland in the form of grinds, there is no online solution available for Irish gifted and
talented children which links the school curricula with advanced learning.
39

The gifted and talented market in Ireland is small with approx. 27,000 students
(primary and secondary) classified as gifted and talented. The market leader is CTYI
which runs programmes and have access to approx. 5000 students. However the focus
is not on the school curricula and also they do not deliver their classes online.

From an assessment of competitors in this market (see the Competitor Analysis in
Appendix A), we believe that MindXplore will offer unique product features for the
gifted and talented market.

Technology and innovation improvements in the e-Learning industry can bring about
new and improved products or services, changing who are brand leaders.

Targeted sales and marketing activities will be essential as a means of differentiating
the product by focusing on the unique features and approach to learning as well as the
price and quality of the content.

There is high industry price elasticity of demand as customers are often price
sensitive, expecting the service to be free or as an add-on to existing products or
services.
Bargaining Power of Buyers
Buyers are the people / organisations who create demand in an industry. Their bargaining is
greater when there are few dominant buyers and many sellers in the industry and when the
products are similar or standardised.
Implications for MindXplore:

Although there is general price sensitivity among parents during this economic
downturn, many of the parents of gifted and talented children may be more disposed
to invest in their child‘s education and social well being.
40

There is an emotional incentive for the buyers (i.e. parents), as the product is targeted
at the unique abilities of their child.

As the size of the Irish market is limited to the 27,000 gifted and talented children
identified, it will be necessary to expand to other countries or to other markets (e.g.
less ‗gifted‘ children)
We are mindful that Porter‘s Five Forces has limitations as it is mainly focused on manufacturing
industries and does not take into account new business models, the dynamics of markets and
technological innovation.
Differentiation
The unique features offered by MindXplore include collaborative and synchronous learning
with an added social network element for gifted and talented secondary school children. The
quality of the material is also essential is differentiating it from other school or tutor products.
Cost
In order to be competitive and offer value for money, MindXplore will be priced in line with
other educational products. There will be price incentives for referrals and early adoption.
Focus
The Irish gifted and talented children market is small, so it is important that MindXplore look
to expand to other markets such as UK and other English speaking countries.
41
Technology Disruption Strategy
Disruptive technology is a term coined by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M.
Christensen in his book The Innovator's Dilemma which demonstrated how disruptive
innovations can drive industry transformation and market creation. Gartner defines a
disruptive technology as one that causes major change in ‗the accepted way of doing things‘,
including business models, processes, revenue streams, industry dynamics and consumer
behaviour. (www.gartner.com, 2008). These innovations happen rarely but have the potential
to destroy incumbent products and businesses, (Slater and Olson 2002).
For MindXplore, introducing features such as synchronous and collaborative online learning
technology with a social network demonstrates an innovative approach to the e-learning
market particularly for the gifted market.
42
MindXplore SWOT Analysis
By undertaking a SWOT analysis, it can become clear if there are areas that need to
addressed or exploited when devising the business model and strategy.
Weaknesses
Strengths





Product– unique features
Targeted/niche market
Little competition in gifted
market in Ireland – possibility
to be market leader for online
Link with DCU & CTYI, access to
teachers, resources
Possible to manage the
business on a part-time basis





Opportunities






Technology developments,
i.e. virtual worlds, etc.
International market potential
Product development
Possible Department of
Education support
Evolution of teaching
methodologies
Government focus on
education for “Smart and
Knowledge Economy”
Financial constraints - needs
funding
Lack of educators on team
Reliance on technology
Lack of support/partnership
with CTYI
Limited staffing – reliance on
core staff
Threats







Broadband access (schools &
home)
Off and online Competitors
Legal issues-social
media/children
Change in school curricula
Change in government policy
Economic Recession
Website risk – hacking/identity
fraud
43
Summary of Market Entry Analysis
As seen in the Porter‘s Five Forces analysis, the gifted and talented market, along with the
general educational market, offers only low to medium risks which can offer possibilities to
MindXplore for market entry and growth.
To utilise technology disruption innovation, MindXplore‘s online features need to be heavily
promoted and publicised to its niche market to differentiate it from the leading competitor.
By partnering with CTYI in Ireland, it will provide MindXplore with access to the target
market. This partnership could be mutually beneficial as it will positively link MindXplore to
a reputable brand and its association with DCU, while also enabling CTYI to extend its reach
and better fulfil its mission ―to allow all talented students to reach their potential both
academically and socially‖ (CTYI 2011b). Based on the SWOT analysis, it is essential that
we keep up to date with technological advancements, competitor activity and developments in
the educational field.
44
Business Model
According to Petrovic, Kittl and Teksten (2003), a business model is not a description of a
complex social system itself with all its actors, relations and processes. Instead it describes
the logic of a ‗business system‘ for creating value that lies behind the actual processes.
There are four key business and revenue models for MindXplore to consider.
Option 1: Manufacturer (direct) Model
MindXplore could sell the system directly to, for example, CTYI, allowing them to manage
and develop it as they wish. It would be a one off sale selling at a premium to justify selling
the system completely.
The problem with the direct model is that the system is an
amalgamation of various software packages (e.g. Joomla CMS, JFusion plugin and Moodle –
for more information, see page 75). By itself, the system would be unlikely to be particularly
valuable. Its value lies in its use and development.
Option 2: Utility Model
MindXplore could provide online tuitions as and when they are needed and the client (e.g. a
school or individual) could ―pay as they go‖. Whatever the client uses, they pay for. If they
don‘t use it, there is no charge. This model does not require customers to outlay a lot of funds
upfront or commit over time. While this could entice new customers, as there is little initial
commitment, this model does not suit the product. MindXplore is a system which offers
more than online classes. The social community and collaborative features provide students
with a service all year round, but require the continuous involvement and participation of
students.
Option 3: Advertising / Sponsorship Model
MindXplore could include advertising space on the site and allow companies to use this space
for a fee.
However, there would be some ethical concerns exposing children to such
45
advertising.
There are strict rules surrounding the issue of advertising and children.
Advertisers would have to be extremely sensitive to the age of their audience.
We considered seeking a sponsor for the site and this may still be a consideration for the
future. Both IGGY in the UK and John Hopkins in the USA utilise sponsorship for their
systems. However, we felt that, in this Irish market, it would be unlikely for us to obtain a
sponsor at this time for an unproven product.
Option 4: Subscription Model
Typically a subscription is for a product or service that customers know and value, and for
which they would be willing to commit over a period of time
MindXplore could charge based upon the period that a subscriber uses the service. This could
be on a per-term or annual basis. As MindXplore is targeting a niche market, with an online
service which is currently unavailable from anyone else, we believe that the market will bear
a reasonable cost for this. As one parent who participated in our focus groups stated ―we just
paid €1,700 for a three week course – if your system works, then you could charge almost
anything and parents would pay it‖(See Appendix B, p.133). People will pay what they can if
it will improve their child‘s education.
Chosen Business Model
Having reviewed the available business models, we believe the MindXplore system is best
suited to the Subscription Model because it is a niche market.
46
Research
Primary Research – Qualitative and Quantitative Research
The following extensive primary research was carried out to gain an in-depth understanding
of gifted children and to identify key insights, opportunities and difficulties in that market:

Focus Group with Parents, Gifted Advocacy Support, Glenview Hotel, Wicklow

Focus Group with Parents of CTYI Students, DCU

Presentation and Survey with CYTI Students, DCU

Interview with Ms. Eleanor Cooke, CTYI Coordinator, DCU

Interview with Ms. Emily Duffy, Maths Teacher, CTYI

Interview with Ms Ann Sheppard – Manager of St Conleth‘s College

Interview with Mr. John Nesbith – IT Coordinator, Teacher at St. Mary‘s College

Interview with Mr Mike Travers – Director of FutureKids (IT services to schools)

Interview with Mr Kevin Johnson – Interim Director of International Group for Gifted
Youth (IGGY) , University of Warwick, England

Attendance at Diverse 2011 (Developing Innovative Visual Educational Resources for
Students Everywhere) Helix, DCU.

Interview with Dr Trudy Corrigan, Coordinator and Lecturer in the School of Education
Studies, DCU

Interview with Mr. Gavin McCullagh, IT System Administrator, Griffith College, Dublin.

Interview with Mr. James Corbett, www.missionV.ie (Virtual Reality company)
47
Parents – Focus Groups
Focus Groups were held on the 26th and 28th of July with groups of parents from the Gifted
Advocacy Support group and parents of CTYI students.
Research Objective:
To understand the issues facing gifted children and their families, and to gain feedback on the
MindXplore system
Key Findings:
The focus groups were of great benefit in understanding the issues facing gifted children and
their families. Parents were concerned about the lack of support available for their children.
They felt that their full potential wasn‘t being realised, and said that their children often feel
isolated in school and were conflicted in their need to be accepted while also looking to work
on more challenging material.
Parents were interested in the MindXplore system and said that they would be willing to pay
up to €25 per class. They also flagged the issues around child protection with regard to
vetting moderators while also ensuring that there are rules in place to prevent bullying.
With regard to the design of the website they made it clear it should be aimed at the children
and not the parents. It would ultimately be the children‘s decision if they wanted their
parents to pay for MindXplore.
Implications for MindXplore:

Website: As a result of the focus groups we made a number of changes to our website
design, and our pricing structure.

Pricing: It was clear that, while parents were willing to pay for the system based on
the number of interactive classes, their main concern was that their children would
have a social outlet.

It became clear that the classes are simply one part of the overall service, and that the
pricing structure should reflect this.
48
Students – Presentation & Survey
Working with CTYI staff, students were shown a powerpoint presentation highlighting the
aims of MindXplore and how we believed the system would work. Screenshots of the website
were included in order to gain some feedback on the design and layout of the website.
Research Objectives:
To gain feedback on the MindXplore system and the features that students were interested in.
Key Findings:
The majority of the students were boys (15 boys, 2 girls) and they were very vocal in their
opinions on the concept of MindXplore. Over 76% of the students said they participated in
their maths class, although they felt they didn‘t need to. The students were also asked to rate
how important various elements of an online learning environment are. Most popular were
Interactive Classes, Non Curriculum Content, Access to Teachers, Forums and Chat Rooms.
There was some obvious confusion with the students over our use of words such as
‗collaborative‘ or ‗synchronous‘. They made it clear that it was them who would ultimately
decide if the system was worth using and the website should be tailored to this extent. One
student summed it up with a comment: ―Big words are nice but just say what it actually is‖.
Implications for MindXplore:
As a result of this research we redesigned the website and the system. We also realised that
the students were not interested in learning curriculum based content, as they covered that in
school anyway. They were interested in non curriculum content that challenged them.
Secondary Research
Extensive secondary research was completed to gain further insight into gifted and talented
students, the education sector and the maths curriculum.
Full details of all research completed is available in Appendix B
49
Business Strategy
Vision:
Our vision is to provide a virtual learning environment for Gifted and Talented children (aged
12+) in Ireland and beyond. This will incorporate a synchronous collaborative learning
environment, including a social network for this niche area.
Objectives:
Short Term Goals: (Year 1)

Secure initial funding

Further development and testing of MindXplore

Launch four classes in Spring 2012 (in Maths)

Develop relationships with potential partners in Ireland
Medium Term Goals: (Year 2)

Expand service to 7 subject areas

Improve and expand MindXplore features

Develop relationships with potential partners in Ireland and the UK
Long Term Goals: (Year 3 and beyond)

Expand into the UK and beyond

Explore other possible business offerings (e.g. virtual worlds)

Develop relationships with partners throughout the world
50
Does MindXplore have a Strategic Advantage?
From our industry analysis, although there is an economic downturn, parents are still willing
to spend money on the education of their children. We found this to be true from both focus
groups (See Appendix B, p.133). In the market analysis, a large number of players were
identified in the e-learning market. However, by having a niche strategy, MindXplore has a
great opportunity in a defined market. This also fits with Porter‘s competitive analysis, which
highlighted that MindXplore can focus on a specific market and differentiate its offering by
its features of synchronous learning, collaboration and social community. The MindXplore
system is an online system and as such is a disruptive technology to traditional methods
employed by institutions such as CTYI. This provides advantages such as early market entry
in order to establish our brand and reputation.
In summary, there are a number of strategic advantages to MindXplore including a niche
market, differentiated service and disruption to established competitors.
Marketing Strategy:
In our Marketing Strategy we highlight that there are three target audiences:
1. Gifted students
2. Parents of gifted students
3. Educators
The students are the users and the parents are the buyers. The students will influence the
parents to buy on their behalf (an opinion expressed in our focus groups, see Appendix B).
Parents will buy the service for their child primarily in order to reduce their child‘s isolation
(See Appendix B, p.133). Educators (e.g. schools CTYI etc) will influence both students and
parents.
The marketing strategy for MindXplore is to build brand and product awareness for sales
generation. This will be done through a mix of online advertising, social media marketing,
sales promotion, direct marketing and PR; where the benefits and the unique nature of the
product is communicated to the target market.
51
Customer Driven
From our survey with the CTYI students, it was clear that they got bored easily and were
motivated by advanced content, synchronous learning and the social element. From our focus
groups with parents, they were concerned about the isolation of their child. MindXplore will
continuously conduct market research to ensure that it stays abreast of any development or
changing needs.
Strategic Partnerships
There may be many synergies in collaborating with CTYI in order to increase the number of
gifted children that collectively can be reached. Their support would also help to build
MindXplore‘s credibility. The Director of IGGY in Warwick University in the UK (similar to
CTYI), whom we interviewed, also expressed an interest in talking with us regarding how we
could assist each other in the future.
In the USA, the John Hopkins Institute have a number of funds and programmes available to
support gifted children. They have formed strategic links with industry through sponsorship.
MindXplore will also be looking for potential relationships or partners that could be mutually
beneficial.
Personnel
During Years One and Two, the core management team will be working on a part time basis.
Moderators will be employed on a contract basis depending on the needs of the business.
Expansion in Year Three will allow for the management team to be employed on a full time
basis, along with the recruitment of a full time Office Manager.
Identifying appropriate moderators will be core to the MindXplore business from the outset.
Technology
The technology will be continually monitored to ensure that all systems are scalable
depending on the levels of traffic to the systems. The MindXplore system will be constantly
developed to allow for upgrades and additions to the service.
52
Marketing and Sales Strategy
The marketing strategy for MindXplore is to build brand and product awareness for sales
generation. This will be done through a mix of online advertising, social media marketing,
sales promotion, direct marketing and PR, where the benefits and the unique nature of the
product is communicated to the target market.
As this is a start-up business, there is a limited budget, so the focus will be on building profile
through free or economical means.
Market Size
According to Ms. Eleanor Cooke of CTYI (See Appendix B, p.132), there are approximately
over 27,000 children who are "gifted" in Ireland. This includes both secondary and primary
children in the Republic of Ireland.
MindXplore‘s core market has been calculated as follows:
(1)
500,000 students attend Primary School in Ireland
350,000 students attend Secondary School in Ireland
 42% of students in Ireland are attending Secondary School
(2)
There are 27, 000 gifted students in Ireland
=> 42% of 27, 000 = 11,340
=> 11,340 approx. gifted students attend Secondary School in Ireland
(3)
According to Techspectations (2010) 87% of gifted students have access to broadband
=> 87% of 11, 340 = 9856
=> 9,856 gifted students in Ireland have access to broadband internet
This means that MindXplore has a potential target market of approximately 9,856 students
53
Target Market
We have identified three key targets for our marketing:

Purchasers – parents

Users – Gifted Children

Influencers – schools and educators
Market Segmentation
Markets are comprised of many buyers who differ from one another in terms of their nature,
income, habits, interests, mode of buying and other attributes. As it‘s unlikely that one
product fits all, segmenting the market based on the common characteristics of the potential
customers means that we recognise similarities such as buying behaviour, or similar needs
(Bose 2010).
MindXplore is focusing on a niche market - gifted and talented secondary school students. In
Years One and Two the focus will be the Irish market, moving into the UK market in Year
Three. In terms of the communications strategy, the following are the market segments we
are looking to reach:

Parents

Gifted and talented youth and high achievers/students who excel in subjects

Educators and schools
By focusing on this market, MindXplore can:

understand the market in detail

identify opportunities for product development

adjust budgets and use resources more effectively to fit the market

focus the marketing activity and use it more effectively in order to reach the target
market (Bose 2010).
54
Product
The product offering is an online platform for the gifted and talented secondary school
market which provides:

fresh and challenging content taught at an accelerated pace

social network
Product Differential – Competitive Advantage
As seen in the competitor analysis in Appendix A, MindXplore is offering a unique product it provides a mix of classes, content and a social network for gifted students. MindXplore will
provide real-time and collaborative online classes which are moderated by an experienced
and highly qualified teacher. The content will include curriculum and exam material along
with higher level content which will be challenging and engaging to the students.
Other elements will include games, quizzes and puzzles, along with study skills. Throughout
the year, additional content will be uploaded onto the platform so that the students can
interact with the site at any time.
Customer Value Proposition
The benefit of this system to students is that they will have a community-based online
resource which will engage members and encourage social interaction. Primary research
findings (which includes interviews with parents and teachers, see Appendix B), showed that
are limited resources available to the gifted students, parents and in schools. As noted in
Appendix B, some issues pertaining to gifted children include social isolation and
underachievement. MindXplore proposes to deliver a complementary system to traditional
schooling, where gifted students will feel valued, challenged and accepted by their peers.
55
Product Positioning
Positioning is defined by Sengupta as ―the art of selecting, out of a number of unique selling
propositions, the one(s) which will get the maximum sales‖ (2005, p.15). It is essential for a
business to create a positive image of their brand in the consumer‘s head.
MindXplore is positioned as an innovative approach to learning for gifted and talented youth,
with high quality material compiled by academics and subject specialists which incorporates
the Junior and Senior cycle curricula. In particular, MindXplore should promote that this
appears to be the first system of its kind in the Irish and global market. It is also important to
highlight MindXplore‘s value for money by delivering it at a price that is highly competitive
(details are in the pricing section on the next page).
Product Time-Line
Market
Subjects
Year 1
Ireland
Maths (Junior & Senior Cycle)
Year 2
Ireland
Senior Cycle: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Applied Maths, Business,
History, English
Junior Cycle: Science, Business Studies,History, English
Year 3
Ireland
Further subjects for both cycles. Eg: French, German, Spanish,
Geography, Music, Art, Accounting, Economics
UK
Subjects adapted to the curriculum, where required
(N.I &
England)
56
Price
There is a good deal of competition for parents‘ funds, including CTYI classes or camps,
grinds/online tutors, music/sports, dance participation etc. The prices range of these from
€20-€60 per student, depending on the provider (i.e. Waltons School of Music compared to
local music teacher) or the nature of the class (one-to-one versus group). Mindful of the
current economic climate MindXplore want to offer a value for money product.
Revenue Model: Subscription Fee
Per annum rate: €520 (equivalent to €10 per week)
Term rate: €250
Easter Camp: €100
Price promotions
Offer promotions to encourage users and renewals:

Discounted price at launch – 1 month trial rate

Free Easter camp for those who pay an annual fee

Price discount depending on usage within a household – 10% discount for 2 children

Reward for referrals/social media content providers– have users as brand ambassadors
where they recommend the product to a friend and get 5-10% discount on renewal
57
Promotion
Online Marketing
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Online marketing will include a search engine optimisation strategy that will ensure high
placement of the website in search results through Google, Bing and other search engines.
Keywords will be optimised to ensure relevant searches and search results for potential users
looking for the MindXplore website or related content. An SEO strategy is vital as a means of
attracting users that are unaware of the MindXplore brand. Content research and creation,
analysis of competitor keywords, targeted descriptive industry keywords and building links
from external websites and blogs will all be used to increase the volume and quantity of
traffic directed to MindXplore, at a limited cost.
Suggested keywords that will fit with both the parents and students searching online include
gifted, talented, smart, teenagers, students, exams, revision, social network, maths, Leaving
Certificate, Junior Certificate, educational resources, school, Ireland
For parents and educators, we propose to have links with education, parenting, maths, and
gifted children sites. These might include dazzledandfrazzled.com (Gifted Advocacy Support
- GAS), giftedkids.ie, paccs.ie (Parents Association for Community and Comprehensive
Schools), CTYI, Department of Education and Skills.
Website
The website will host the home web application and will generate a web presence for the
business. Visitors to the site will be able to find information on the products available, their
features and benefits. There will be news and information updates through Facebook and
Twitter feeds on the homepage. The site will act as a promotional tool and a driver of sales
where the potential users will see the features and a sample of the content. (For an overview
of the website see the Technology section, Pages 73-93).
58
Online Advertising
The advertising strategy is to utilise Google‘s pay per click AdWords service to drive
potential customers to the website where they can obtain information on the MindXplore
system. The ads will be displayed along with search results on Google when someone
searches using the chosen keywords. The ads will appear under the sponsored links in the
side column of a search page, and may also appear in additional positions above the free
search results.
AdWords can allow MindXplore to target specific regions such as the UK and Ireland which
will facilitate reaching the target audience. This advertising will be sporadic and related to
product launch, recruitment of users particularly around the start of the school year and at
exam time.
There will be two key campaigns focusing on the different target audiences. For example,
the terms for students will centre on the issues we believe will be of interest to them such as
advanced maths content, exam and revision aids, bored in school, challenging classes. For the
parents, the focus will be on offering resources and support for gifted children, for instance
using terms such as gifted children social community, students reaching their potential,
underachievement gifted youth etc.
Social Media Strategy
According to Mangold and Faulds ―the emergence of social media has made it possible for
one person to communicate with hundreds or even thousands of other people about products
and the companies that provide them. Thus, the impact of consumer-to-consumer
communications has been greatly magnified in the marketplace. As part of the promotion
mix, in a traditional sense it enables companies to talk to their customers, while in a nontraditional sense it enables customers to talk directly to one another.‖ (2009, p.357)
Social media marketing is a central component of MindXplore‘s marketing strategy. As this
is an online business aimed at young people and their parents, the use of social media is an
attractive means of creating awareness of the brand and promoting the system.
59
Social Media is one of the most cost effective ways of implementing advertising and PR for a
company, as the main outlay is time and staffing. Thus, MindXplore plan to concentrate its
marketing efforts across a range of social media channels over the first two years of business,
diversifying into more traditional advertising after Year One.
In the Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2011, Stelzner states that the following are
important issues that need to be addressed by businesses when using social media marketing:

Marketers place high value on social media

Measurement and integration are the top areas that marketers want to master

Social media marketing takes a lot of time

Video marketing is on the rise

Marketers seek to learn more about Facebook and blogging

The top benefits of social media marketing

The top social media tools

Social media outsourcing underutilized
(Stelzner 2011)
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
The Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2011 states that the number-one benefit of
social media marketing is its ability to make a brand, website or product standing out in an
increasingly noisy world. 88% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have
generated more exposure for their businesses. Improving traffic and subscribers was the
second major benefit, with 72% reporting positive results. Nearly two-thirds of marketers
indicated a rise in search engine rankings as a benefit of social media marketing. As search
engine rankings improve, so will business, 51% of marketers found social media generated
qualified leads and 49% said it reduced overall marketing spend. (Stelzner 2011)
60
The MindXplore Approach
As Social Media is central to the marketing strategy, it is necessary to create a plan which
will give direction and focus on how time and energy can be best utilised in order to engage
with social media effectively.
Step 1 - Establish goals

Create and develop brand awareness

Drive traffic to the MindXplore website

Create a buzz about the product particularly amongst the gifted and talented
community in Ireland
Step 2 - Choose appropriate platforms:
This will include a mix of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Step 3 - Create the right team:
The marketing director will create and add content to various social media in Years One and
Two. The intention in Year Three is to hire a marketing/social media executive to manage the
day-to-day activity. This will in turn free up time for the marketing manager to increase
marketing and PR activity particularly when extending the product range and entering new
markets.
Step 4 - Monitoring and refinement:
We will continuously monitor activity and references to the brand, using platform monitoring
tools along with Google Alerts, RSS feeds, and other tools. Where issues are identified, the
intention is to adjust our content and strategy, and we foresee that these adjustments will take
place on a regular basis.
61
Setup Focus
It is important to any social media strategy, that the most appropriate targets are correctly
selected. In the case of MindXplore, the following distinct groups have been identified as
initial targets:

Parents of gifted and talented children – gifted and talented community in Ireland

Parents at large

Secondary school students

Schools and educators in Ireland
The primary goals relating to the social media marketing activity are:

Increasing brand awareness through social media and online PR to drive sales.

Informing potential customers about the advantages using MindXplore

Gaining quality and relevant inbound links to drive traffic to our site.
Social Media Setup
MindXplore will build a distinctive and active presence in social media through a variety of
carefully selected channels. Content will be produced in a variety of interlinked formats,
including:

Frequent interaction and conversations in several leading networks and community sites

Blog posts, responses, and back links

On-going micro-blog commentary on events, achievements, and subjects of relevance
to the target audiences which include parents, students and educators
Social media accounts for MindXplore have been set up on Facebook, Twitter and Hootsuite.
62
Broadcasting
Facebook
Facebook is currently the world‘s largest social media network, with over 750 million active
users. Further details about Facebook are included in Appendices. (Facebook.com 2011)
A business page for MindXplore has been established on Facebook that will be used to post
updates, information and news. Updates posted will automatically be inserted in users‘ feeds,
ensuring on-going visibility of our services in users‘ profile pages. Additionally, having a fan
page allows MindXplore to engage as a company in relevant discussions and groups on
Facebook.
Specific activities on the MindXplore Facebook page will include:
• Updating the status
• Engaging in conversation with Facebook users who comment on our products and services.
• Posting informative content relating to gifted and talented children, subject areas (e.g.
maths, science, etc), and new content on the website (e.g. podcasts, articles, etc.).
• Reposting relevant content from other users and commenting thereon.
Facebook is relevant for both the parents and students as the age profile for both target
audiences fits. According to Facebook.com, approximately 1.75 million or 50% of the entire
Irish population, over the age of 15 years use Facebook. (Facebook.com 2011)
Twitter
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform, allowing users, including brands such as MindXplore,
to make short comments about subjects of interest.
For MindXplore, establishing a Twitter presence has several advantages:

Updates can be posted on a regular basis without having to commit the time that
would be required for a regular blog.
63

Our core audience can be targeted by following and recruiting followers related to
gifted and talent children, school education, parents, teachers and the education
community.

Track and respond to other, perhaps better known Twitter users and get involved in
highly visible conversations about relevant subjects in front of a wide audience,
enabling us to establish credibility.
The content published will be tailored to reflect the nature of the various networks in the
mix by using the following tools and applications to manage social media across
platforms such as: Hootsuite.com, Twitterlocal.net, Tweetdeck
LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a social network targeted at professionals and organisations. Established in 2002,
it is the most heavily used social network amongst businesses, with all Fortune 500
companies represented.
MindXplore has identified LinkedIn as a platform for social networking activities, which can
engage with the LinkedIn community by:

Building a business profile (where all employees create profiles and engage in
discussions)

Creating a company page with links to the company blog, twitter feed, and online
conversations

Engaging with appropriate discussion and interest groups.

Identifying key players and potential partners in the e-learning sphere.
64
Blogs
While Facebook and Twitter provide MindXplore with quick, effective ways to engage in
conversation and events surrounding the business, a blog can be used to promote key
products, developments, etc. in the fields of online education and gifted and talented youth.
In contrast to the activity necessary for Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, blog posts tend to be
more time consuming, have a certain level of authority, and require more research. Our plan
is to update the blog with several high quality posts per month. These blogs will be publicised
through:

Mentions on Facebook and Twitter for the week following each post

Bookmarking each post on social bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon, and
Delicious

Submission of each post to relevant groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other targeted
forums.

Reacting quickly and conversationally to any comments received either via these two
channels, Twitter, or on our site.

Submitting an RSS feed of our blog to several feed aggregators each week.
In addition to promoting the posts themselves, the plan is to develop relationships with other
blogs and bloggers in relevant subject areas via commentary, links, and by reposting other
bloggers‘ content with commentary on the MindXplore site. An example of key blogs to
engage with are Irish gifted education blogs such as dazzledandfrazzled, Peter Lydon‘s blog
and www.paccs.ie/content/publish/Talented_and_Gifted/index.shtml. These are useful for
tracking opinions and commentary about this area.
The target audiences for blogs is more likely to be educators and parents as the content will
be pitched to them as a means of informing them about MindXplore system news, and
educational developments, particularly those pertaining to gifted and talented children.
65
Social Marketing Plans:
MindXplore intends to produce content at a later stage for the following sites:
YouTube, Vimeo, Social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Del icious, Reddit and
StumpleUpon
Monitoring Social Media Activity
It is imperative that there is constant monitoring of MindXplore‘s brand reputation and any
references or mentions given to the company across all social media channels. This is done to
ensure that the company and products are correctly represented online and that the
information available is accurate and relevant and doesn‘t misrepresent the brand. Through
monitoring of social media, it can become clear if the content of the communication is being
optimised for the social media channel used. The effectiveness of social media campaigns can
be determined through measuring metrics.
Marketing Sherpa‘s survey of 2,000+ marketers shows that the top metrics being measured
are:
1. Visitors and sources of traffic
2. Network size (followers, fans, members)
3. Quantity of commentary about brand or product
(www. bergonomics.blogspot.com 2010)
Monitoring data is only valuable if metrics relevant to a company and its objectives are being
tracked, analysed and then applied to improve the social media marketing strategy.
MindXplore are interested in the following metrics:

Social media leads

Engagement duration

Bounce rate

Conversions

Brand mentions in social media
66
This can be done by tracking mentions and sentiment with internal tools on each of the social
media sites on which we are active. In addition, exposure across the web at large can be
monitored with the following tools: Social Mention, Google Alerts, Google Analytics &
Webmaster Tools, RSS Feeds.
MindXplore PR
The strategy is to build a profile for MindXplore online and offline. Online PR activity will
mainly be through social media and SEO. The purpose of the offline PR activity will be to
create awareness and elicit word-of-mouth.
Online PR
This will be performed by sending press releases and updated information for mentions and
links in the following sites:

CTYI and DCU websites

Department of Education and Skills and HEA websites

Gifted and talented websites and blogs eg. Giftedkids.ie, giftedandtalented.ie,
teachireland.ie

Educational/ parenting websites eg. Scoilnet.ie, schooldays.ie
Online and Offline Irish Media
This will involve wide distribution of press releases and news to a mixture of websites and bloggers.
At the launch of a product(s) and throughout the year, press releases and news updates will be sent to
key media for features, interviews and mentions:
Print: A mix of daily and Sunday newspapers, both national and regional such as Irish
Times will be utilised (including its education supplement), Independent, www.thejournal.ie.
Education correspondents and educational publications such as ASTIR (Association of
Secondary Teachers in Ireland), Education, and TUI News (Teachers Union of Ireland) will
be contacted.
67
Broadcast Media:
This will include coverage on national and local radio and television through interviews and
features. There seems to be an appetite within the media on the subject of gifted and talented
youth. Examples of this include RTÉ‘s Bright Young Things (2009) documentary and various
features in newspapers (e.g. the article in the Sunday Business Post on Sunday 25 July 2011).
Possible angles for future coverage could include a focus on parenting gifted children, myths
about gifted children, underperformance in exams of these children, famous Irish
(International) gifted children eg. Harry Potter actress, Evanne Lynch.
Much of the PR activity will be targeted at parents and educators as they are the most likely
people who will engage with the media chosen.
Other means of achieving PR and publicity is through branding and/or sponsorship. We
propose to do the following:

Display brochures and signage at suitable events such as
o
CTYI classes/camps
o
gifted.ie and other parent/support groups such as GAS meetings
o
Educational conferences i.e. maths teachers events (year 2) and for other
subjects
o
High profile events aimed at children and parents such as the Young Scientist
Exhibition
o
Irish Teaching and Learning Festival

Sponsor prizes for national competitions on website or through media

Sponsorship in schools (e.g. supplying prizes for sports days, concerts, fundraising
activities).
68
Offline Promotion
Advertising
It may be necessary to do some limited printed advertising in selected educational
publications in Ireland and UK (Years 2 and 3), in order to reach an educational audience
who may be interested in purchasing the products. This could also be a useful means of
building brand awareness. We have identified several publications in Ireland which we will
target for print advertising in Years Two and Three. We believe that they would be ideal for
reaching professionals who are key influencers in the educational sector. These include:
ASTIR – Irish secondary teachers union magazine
TUI –Teachers Union of Ireland magazine
Direct Marketing
A printed and electronic version of a MindXplore brochure will be distributed by post and
email to schools and parents. It may be possible to include the MindXplore brochure with
mailings being carried out by CTYI to both schools and parents. We will send a quarterly
newsletter which will be sent by email and will feature news and updates about the
MindXplore system.
Database
The plan is to build a database by encouraging users of the site to register online. This will
provide a means to talk directly with the customer and has the potential to reduce costs by
sending all correspondence online.
Exhibitions and Events
When expanding into new markets (Year Three onwards), MindXplore plans to attend
educational trade fairs. These events can be beneficial as they provide enormous potential to
create sales opportunities, to network with industry experts and to raise brand awareness. The
Education Show (Birmingham) and The Learning Technologies exhibition (London) are
among some of the annual educational exhibitions identified relevant to the UK market (in
Year Three).
69
Place
The MindXplore system will be sold directly to homes and can be purchased and assessed
online.As a route to market, MindXplore may set up a partnership/strategic alliance with
CTYI. Through their channel, CTYI have access to approx. 5000 gifted and talented children.
UK
An interview was conducted with the director of International Group for Gifted Youth
(IGGY) at the University of Warwick. IGGY could be used as a means of reaching the target
market in the UK (See Appendix B, p.139)
People
We will draw on the experience and contacts of the directors in the company in order to
exploit MindXplore‘s potential. An example of this is Ms Laura Ferry, whose skill and
experience in IT makes her best placed to manage the IT functions or Ms Maeve Whooley
who has worked in PR with RTÉ and thus has established contacts in the media.
One key element to the marketing and product mix is the knowledge and experience provided
by the moderator. The moderators will mainly be PHD level students who have worked with
CTYI through their classes and camps and thus have extensive experience in teaching and
preparing content for gifted and talented students.
Process
Process is an element of service that sees the customer experiencing a product or service. It
is important that we are aware how the customer will engage with the service. We need to
look at the usability of the website for the user in terms of ease of use, consistency, flexibility
and efficiency of use, user control, etc. This means that at the point where the user logs onto
the system there is personalised content on their page and functions such as chat and forum
are working correctly. This has been addressed in the Technology section.
70
Market Research and Development
The future success and growth of MindXplore will depend largely on its ability to:

Enhance and expand the products and services offered due to changes in technology,
education, customer requirements and expectations

Develop additional and new product features and applications as a means of
generating new sources of revenue
To do this, we will constantly monitor the market, adjusting the product and services range
accordingly and maintaining innovation through the development of new educational online
content, games and topical material.
Also it is important that MindXplore is constantly up-to-date on new technologies that the
company could employ as a means of enhancing the products. The usability and feedback
from customers is also essential as a means of improving the product and services we offer.
This can be done through:

Customer research i.e. online surveys

Updates and feedback from moderators

Updates and feedback from users (i.e. students)

Sales tracking

Web analytics to observe the interactivity with home version such as how many
hours, at what time, most popular content and apps, etc.
Researching new sources of content and methods of delivery, and as well as keeping abreast
of developments in education and online learning, is also key. This means obtaining
Department of Education and Skills reports, academic and educational conference papers - in
particular those related to gifted and talented children, along with online feeds from the
media and blogs.
MindXplore can also monitor:

Competitors and their product and delivery options

ICT developments, market trends in education products and services – in particular
virtual learning and delivering content through mobile devices
71
Sales Plan
Sales are mainly generated through the parents distribution channel. We envisage that the
buyers of the MindXplore system will be more pull driven than push driven. MindXplore will
require a soft sell where the sales representative is more like an information provider.
Sales Account Manager
Mr. Brendan Phelan (General Manager) is our chosen main sales person as he has worked in
the education sector. Mr. Phelan is already in contact with private schools through his
existing business, Chapterhouse Consulting (www.fundraising.ie), where he plans and
implements fundraising campaigns for schools, universities and other non-profit
organisations. We have found from our research in focus groups that there are a larger
proportion of gifted children in private schools currently undertaking advanced learning
classes. There are currently 55 private schools in Ireland.
Sales Process:
Our sales process will consist of Mr. Phelan contacting and networking with schools. He will
present the MindXplore system to key decision-makers. Mr. Phelan will first approach
customers with whom he has worked before because this is a success strategy used by many
sales agents to great effect as existing customers will more than likely buy from a wellknown and proven supplier.
It is also envisaged that Mr. Phelan will be available to take sales calls, orders or inquiries
from interested buyers of the system (e.g. parents). He will attend events such as PR
exhibitions and educational seminars, setting up stands where appropriate.
72
Technology Roadmap
Vision Statement
Our vision is to design and create an online learning and social environment for gifted and
talented children. This environment will allow these children to learn synchronously and
collaboratively, giving them the opportunity to work at their own pace. It will also provide a
social environment where they can interact with others of similar interests and abilities.
Scope
Phase
Phase-1
Planning
Phase-2
Design &
Implementation
Phase-3
Future Plans
Objectives
Deliverables




Identify Scope of the system
Define system objectives
Identify achievable functionality
Research possible technologies



System Objectives
Conceptual Architecture
Technology Plan



Begin system design
Implement web technologies
Implement Learning Management
System

Complete Solution
Architecture
Website Design
Integration with LMS




Usability Testing
System Testing
Deployment for January 2012
Future Technology Plans





Usability Testing
Final System Rolled Out
Future Technology
Roadmap
Stakeholders
Stakeholder
Interest and opportunity
Students


Parents

Schools


Access to synchronous learning at their own pace.
Interaction with other students with similar abilities, creating an
online social community
Online facility for their children to allow for fast paced learning
and social interaction
Allows gifted students to be challenged with varying content
Additional study techniques to help with exams
Moderators


Facility to upload curriculum and non curriculum based content
Interaction with students to provide support and answer queries
73
Conceptual Architecture
Based on the requirements gathered so far, and the capabilities supported by recent open
source technologies, the following conceptual architecture is proposed to meet the business
vision and objectives.
Registered
Access
Website
LCMS
Database
Assumptions:

Access to website content and the Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is only
possible for registered users

Basic information on the business and services will be available for all visitors to the
website
Main Functionality Requirements

Single sign on for access to all elements of the system

Seamless visual integration for all plug-ins

Social elements such as a forum and chat to be available through the website

LCMS will store all materials relating to classes and course work

Synchronous classes, to include video of the teacher and student/teacher interaction
74
MindXplore System
The solution architecture outlined in this document is an initial iteration and is identified
based on user scenarios and technical requirements. This architecture will be reviewed after
system and usability testing in Phase 3.
Usage Scenario
Overview
The primary requirements for MindXplore are an interactive website and a Learning
Management System (LMS). The website will provide visitors with an insight into the
company and the products it provides. It will also provide the platform where, upon
registration, students can interact and collaborate. The LMS will provide both students and
moderators with a platform to access and download course work.
The MindXplore website was built using the content management system, Joomla. Joomla
extensions were utilised to create an interactive environment for the students. The JFusion
plugin was installed to allow for a single sign on between the Joomla website and the LMS,
Moodle. Moodle was chosen as it is an open source learning management system which
allows for personalisation and integration with the main website.
.
Scope
This scenario involves moderators and students accessing the MindXplore system after
registration. Students have full access to all elements of the website, including the forums,
chat and Moodle site. Moderators will have access to Moodle to upload material for classes
and any further information for the students. Moderators will also have access to forums to
monitor them for possible student queries and inappropriate content.
Assumptions

Students have registered for MindXplore
75
Stakeholders
Stakeholder
Interest and opportunity
MindXplore






Moderators
Students
Provide a system to allow students to collaborate with others
Provide a social community for gifted students
Facility to provide students with challenging content
Interact with and teach students in real time
Access challenging content
Interact with like-minded students of similar interests and abilities
Actors and Goals
Actor
Goal
Students




Moderators
Access forums, chat rooms and interact with each other
Upload course work and complete quizzes, games
Upload course work and extra content for students
Interact with students to provide support and answer queries
Usage Scenarios
Goals/Context
Students will log in to MindXplore, having access to the forums, chat room and their Moodle
page at all times. Synchronous, or real time, classes will be held on a weekly basis and
students can log in to these classes once they are logged onto the MindXplore System.
Scenario 1 - Student
I.
Student logs in to the MindXplore system
II.
Student accesses the forum through the ‗MX Forum‘ link
III.
Student accesses Moodle through the ‗My MX‘ link
IV.
Student may chat to others online through the MX Chat function, located on the
‗My MX‘ page.
V.
Student attends weekly, synchronous, class with moderator, through the ‗MX
Classroom‘
VI.
Student accesses course work and uploads completed work through ‗My MX‘
76
Scenario 2- Moderator
I.
Moderator logs in to the MindXplore system
II.
Moderator accesses Moodle through the ‗My MX‘ link
III.
Moderator uploads course work and additional materials through ‗My MX‘.
IV.
Moderator hosts weekly, synchronous, classes using ‗MX Classroom‘
V.
Moderator uploads class presentations to ‗MX Classroom‘ and enables video and
desktop sharing (when appropriate)
VI.
Moderator interacts with students during classes and through the ‗MX Forum‘
Scenario 3 – BigBlueButton Live Class
A moderator teaches a maths class, for example, on Saturday afternoons from 3:00 - 4:00 PM
and has twenty remote students.
Moderator begins at 2.45pm and prepares to teach the class.
II.
III.
Moderator logs into MindXplore and navigates to ‗MyMX‘ page
Moderator clicks on the link ‗MX Classroom‘ and enters the password before entering
the virtual classroom.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
Moderator uploads her presentation in preparation for the class to begin
Moderator has turned on the camera so her students can see her.
Moderator proceeds to teach her class at 3pm
Moderator is available to answer queries during class (public or private)
Moderator and her students exit BigBlueButton at 4:15 PM
Student prepare for class to ensure they are available for 3pm.
I.
II.
Student logs into MindXplore and navigates to ‗My MX‘ page
Student clicks on the link for ‗MX Classroom‘ and enters the password before
entering the virtual classroom.
III.
Student is ready to begin class
IV.
Students can see and hear Moderator through the camera as the class takes place
V.
Moderator and students exit BigBlueButton at 4:15 PM.
77
Solution Architecture
Student
Access
Joomla
MySQL
Website
JFusion
Moderator
Access
Cloud
Storage
Moodle
System Configuration
As a result of our research it became clear that there were two main areas of concern for
students and parents - quality of content and social interaction. While the synchronous classes
are where we differentiate ourselves from other systems, the content is of key concern. This
content will be reliant on the moderator.
However, in order for it to be effective the
technology must be able to support the teaching methods.
The social element of the system will allow the students to interact with each other, through
live chat, or by using the forum. All of these elements are only available to registered users so
as to ensure the community is built around them.
78
Joomla
Joomla is an open source content management system. It was chosen because of its ease of
use and installation. Additionally Joomla provides the scalability necessary for a deployment
scenario such as this. Joomla is in use in large-scale multi-user environments such as MTV
Networks, Quizilla and Harvard University. Joomla has a variety of extensions which can be
implemented to achieve our vision of an interactive and collaborative environment.
Joomla Architecture
Figure 3 - Source: http://docs.joomla.org/Framework/1.5
Moodle
Moodle is an open source learning management system. According to Moodle, the system is
used by over 55,802 sites with over 44 million users (Moodle 2011). Moodle is a stable
platform and is used in small and large scale deployments.
Moodle will be used by MindXplore as a platform for moderators and students to access their
content and upload their work. It will allow moderators to upload content and resources for
their classes, while also utilising the various functionalities available, such as quizzes.
79
Students will access their Moodle site through the main website. They will be able to
complete quizzes and upload course work through their ‗My MX‘ page, without the need for
any further sign on or passwords.
There will be a large amount of information stored on the Moodle system - up to 1000
students in Year 3 with up to 44 moderators. With this level of traffic the system will be
hosted in the cloud. This is the most cost effective solution as a local server deployment will
incur further costs, such as those relating to the provision of sufficient bandwidth capacity
and adequate infrastructure redundancy.
PhpBB
PhpBB is an open source forum system. It allows for easy integration with Joomla through
the JFusion plug-in. PhpBB was also chosen because of its options for personalisation. The
forum will allow each user to customise their view based on themes provided on the website.
The forum will be central to the social community. The results of the survey with the CTYI
children showed that they use forums as a way of interacting with each other online (See
Appendix B). PhpBB provides an integrated solution through the MindXplore website and
also allows for a variety of themes to be provided to students to personalise the way they
view the forum. The number of themes will be limited to those installed by the Administrator.
JFusion
JFusion is an ‗integration framework‘ (Joomla Community 2011) for Joomla. It allows for
synchronisation between Joomla and various applications. JFusion synchronises user
accounts, sessions and allows the application to be visually integrated into the main Joomla
website.
JFusion was chosen as a plug-in because of the various applications it supports - phpBB
forum, Moodle and Magento. Moodle is the chosen learning management system for
MindXplore and a seamless integration is necessary to enhance the user‘s experience of the
80
system. JFusion also allows for the use of PhpBB Forum software. PhpBB was chosen
because of its ease of use, and JFusion integrates it visually into the MindXplore website.
The possible integration of Magento, an E-commerce solution, will be considered in future
updates to the MindXplore site depending on business requirements and its potential return
on investment. It is not envisioned that the addition of Magento will be required within the
first three years.
Joomla
JFusion
Moodl
e
PhpBB
MySQL Database
All of the technologies used in the system will have MySQL as their back end database.
MySQL is a relational database system and will allow for all teacher and student information
to be available to all technologies to ensure seamless integration between all interdependent
subsystems. The information stored in the database will be held in the cloud. Regular backups
of the information will be performed.
Synchronous Classroom
The synchronous classes are the main element of the MindXplore system. Allowing students
to learn online collaboratively and at their own pace is a unique element of our service.
BigBlueButton is an open source program which is focused on ‗usability, modularity and
clean design (BigBlueButton 2011)
An overview of the functions of the system can be seen on the next page.
81
Figure 4: Source: - http://bigbluebutton.org/overview
BigBlueButton provides the moderators with a platform to teach live classes. The chat facility
allows for group chat with all participants, or private chat between selections of participants.
The private chats will allow the students to ask questions of the moderator privately, and will
also allow groups of students to work on problems set during the class. The live camera and
desktop sharing can be turned off by the moderator if not required.
Recording and playback of the live class is not currently available in the latest version of
BigBlueButton. However, the next release will allow for this functionality. This additional
functionality can easily be integrated into a future release of MindXplore.
In the case of this functionality not being available for the initial user testing stage, the
following software will be implemented:
Joomla Live Conference
Joomla Live Conference offers similar functionality to BigBlueButton. It allows for recording
of the sessions and playback at a later date for those who were unable to attend. There is a
cost of $69 dollars for lifetime access; this has been factored into the software costs for Year
One.
82
MathTex
An important element of the forum will be the collaborative environment it will provide for
the students. In order for students to collaborate on maths problems they must be able to use
specific maths symbols. PhpBB allows for the use of the MathTex plugin which allows users
to display mathematical symbols in their forum posts. This plug in will allow the students to
work in groups and to help each other on difficult questions.
Live Chat
A further element of social collaboration will be the availability of an instant messaging
system when students log into the system. A basic chat facility has been installed in order to
avoid any private chat rooms, and encourage interaction between all users of the website.
Scalability
Joomla as a content management system will be hosted separately from Moodle. Moodle will
be hosted in the cloud to allow for the expansion that will be required in year three for the
number of anticipated users. Joomla, however, will be hosted on a server that will be colocated with the cloud provider. This will allow for control over the hardware requirements
and configuration of the database server while still leveraging the benefits of a cloud
environment. The deployment of the database server in this manner is similar to co-locating
techniques utilised by many high frequency trading firms.
83
Future System Developments
Phase
Objectives
Phase-3
Future Plans




Phase-4


Deliverables

Usability Testing
System Testing
Deployment for January 2012
Future Technology Plans


Optimisation for Smart Phone,
Tablet
o
Further website content
o
Update site based on Usability
Testing
Final System Rolled Out
Future Technology Roadmap
Interviews/pod
casts
with
academics, teachers, experts
Demonstration of
interactive
classes
o
User generated content
o
Blogs – encourage guest writers
Cross Platform Availability
There is rapid growth in the global tablet market. The Worldwide Tablet Market Forecast
Report produced by Infinite Research predicts that 147.2 million Tablet computers will be
shipped in 2015, up from 16.1 million units in 2010, which equates to an increase of almost
60% annually. This is a higher increase than historic rates set by smartphones, PCs, or mp3
players (Decatur, 2011).
Currently, development of MindXplore has only been for browsers. We would envisage that,
if demand for the availability of MindXplore on other platforms warrants, we would develop
the interface for iPads, smartphones etc. While the use of mobile internet is thriving, the
introduction of the tablet (e.g. iPad) is changing the market and may offer a richer platform
for the learning experience of MindXplore.
84
Design Rationale
The initial development of the MindXplore system involved the installation and testing of
various content and learning management systems. Once the overall architecture was decided
upon, the design of the website was finalised.
The initial designs had no context or target market; we were attempting to be both a quality
and informative business website, while also trying to target the students who would be using
the system.
The result was a disjointed and unimpressive attempt:
Initial Attempt
Figure 5: Initial Website Design
Our primary research with both parents and students changed our opinions and helped us to
refine our designs. CTYI helped to facilitate a short presentation to some CTYI Maths
students, in which an overview of the system was given and some screenshots of the initial
design were displayed.
85
A survey was then distributed to the students asking for some feedback. The feedback was
brutal and honest and focussed us immediately on who we were trying to target with the
website.
Most of the comments centred around the drop shadows on the buttons, and the colours that
were chosen. While they felt the name and logo were ―cheesy‖, they admitted it needed to be
to catch attention. The students were also asked to rate which elements of the system would
be most important to them. The results of this are below in Figure 7. More details of the
research findings can be found in Appendix B.
10
9
Number of Students
8
7
6
5
Very Important
4
Important
3
Neutral
2
Not Important
1
Very Unimportant
0
Figure 6: Results of Student Survey
The main queries after the presentation centred around the use of ―big words‖ on the website.
They felt that if we were trying to convince them to use this site then we should be targeting
the language at them, rather than at their parents.
The focus groups with the parents backed up what the students were saying. They would
consider using the product if they felt their children were interested and would benefit from
it. It was clear we needed to redesign the website and focus on enticing the students to use
the system, rather than convincing their parents that it was a good system.
86
Website Overview
Following on from the results of the research the website was redesigned and directly
targeted at the students, while also helping parents understand what we are offering their
children. The MindXplore website will perform two main functions. It will provide:
1. Information to prospective clients on the products/services we supply
2. A social community for students to interact and learn with each other
Upon entering the MindXplore site all information will be available to visitors. There will
also be a login in area for students to log in and access the additional functionalities.
Home Page
Space for Possible
User Login
Partner Logo
MindXplore
Twitter Feed
Users Online
87
Home Page – User Logged In
The students indicated personalisation was a desired element for the website. We wanted to
make it obvious to the students that when they logged in they were accessing areas of the site
that were only available to them. Upon login, they are presented to two extra ‗buttons‘ which
allow them access to the Forum and their Moodle page.
The chat facility and the login to the live classroom are now available from the ‗My MX‘
page.
Access to Forum
Access to
‗Moodle‘ page
88
MX Forum
89
My MX (Moodle Page)
90
Live Classroom – Teacher View
Live Classroom – Student View
91
User Payment Process
Sign Up for
MindXplore
Complete
Direct Debit
Form
Direct Debit
Choose Payment
Type
No
Online
Enter Online
Payment Details
Payment
Verified
Yes
Complete School
Form
Payment
Received
Receive User
Logon
92
Administrator User Registration Process
Application Form
Received
No Login
No
Direct Debit
Details
Received
No
Online Payment
Received
Yes
Request School
Verification
Yes
No Login
No
Verification
Received
Yes
Assign Login
93
Funding
Summary of Activity:
In Year 1, MindXplore will offer four courses in Maths to both Senior Cycle and Junior
Cycle in Ireland. In Year 2, we will hold 18 classes across the areas of Maths, English,
History, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Science and Business Studies in Ireland. In Year 3 we
will expand into Northern Ireland and England offering 45 classes covering 7 subject areas.
For the purposes of our financials it is assumed that the directors of MindXplore are investing
€16,000 at the start of Year 1. There are no funding requirements in Year 2 and Year 3 due to
increased sales revenues.
MindXplore has a variety of funding options available because it is potentially commercially
viable in the growth area of education in Ireland and abroad. As a result, it can attract
potential investment and support from a number of private and public sources. Below are the
options available to MindXplore:
Funding Options
Option 1:
Partial DCU Support Start Up
DCU Ryan academy provides new start ups with access to office space, business mentoring
and support. DCU Ryan Academy provides a fund of €30,000 for a 6.5% share of a
company.
In the DCU Invent Centre there are a number of options for funding. This include the CORD
grant, which can provide up to €30,000 for salary support. There is also a High Potential
Feasibility Study Grant (up to €15,000) that might allow MindXplore to research the UK
market for an earlier entry than Year 3. There is also mentoring and support available.
94
Option 2:
Finance Raised Though Agencies
These options include the Dublin Business Innovation Centre (www.dbic.ie) or the Dublin
City Enterprise Board (www.dceb.ie ) where small businesses can avail of grants and finance.
Another option is Social Entrepreneurs (www.socialentrepreneurs.ie ) who have previously
funded new projects that are socially inclusive in the area of Gifted and Talented children.
Enterprise Ireland also provides various levels of support for start up businesses.
Option 3:
Private Equity
The initial investment require is €16,000 and this could be raised through the Directors own
savings or a bank loan (www.aib.ie). There are also potential external private investors like
the Irish Venture Capital Association (www.ivca.ie ) or a specific individual who may have
an interest in this area. Business Angels would also be an option.
Option 4:
Sponsorship from Large Corporations
We are including the future possibility of potential sponsorship from large corporations who
may be interested in investing from a corporate responsibility perspective or because they
have a specific interest in that area (e.g. Engineers Ireland would have an interest in Maths
education). IBM and Cisco sponsor IGGY programmes in the Warwick University (UK), as
we found from our research (see Appendices p. 139).
Analysis of Options:
Option 1 is the ideal route as there are a number of cost savings and supports between the
DCU Ryan Academy or DCU Invent and MindXplore. Option 2, 3 and 4 are potential routes
depending on proposed meetings with DCU Ryan Academy and DCU Invent.
95
Finances
7.1 Disclaimer
The financial calculations prepared by the Directors of MindXplore are for illustration
purposes only. They are based upon potential future performance. Whilst the Directors have
done their foremost to generate data that is accurate and well researched based upon current
information, it is important to highlight that all future outcomes change over time.
Financial Assumptions
Revenues
All calculations are based upon €600 per unit to parents who pay piecemeal by term during
the academic year or €520 paid by direct debit at €10 per week for 52 weeks.
Year 1:
4 classes in the subject area of Maths in Ireland.
Year 2:
18 classes covering Maths, English, History, Physics, Biology, Chemistry,
Science and Business Studies in Ireland.
Year 3:
45 classes covering Maths, English, History, Physics, Biology, Chemistry,
Science and Business Studies in Ireland, Northern Ireland and England.
The number of classes is based upon calculations on the number of students taking the
leaving and junior certificate. (see Market Size, Page 53). There are 21 pupils per class and
estimated sales are €31,435 in Year 1, €223,680 in Year 2 and €520,000 in Year 3.
Cost of Sales
Our cost of sales includes the website domain and hosting of the MindXplore system. It is
relatively low at 96% gross margin in Year 1 and rising to 98% in Year 2 and Year 3. An
essential part of this is fixed line broadband for each moderator to ensure minimal disruption
to moderating lessons.
96
Salaries & PRSI
In Year 1, salaries are €16500 which includes the Marketing Manager, Social Media
specialist, IT Administrator and Sales person working part time. It also includes the
employment of 4 moderators / teachers. Moderators will be paid €25 an hour for two hours
work a week (allowing one non-teaching hour for class preparation and responding to student
queries), for 10 weeks per term (except the Easter term where they work a 5 day week).
In Year 2, with the expansion of the business, salary cost rises to €101,250 with all staff
working either on a part time basis or on contract.
In Year 3, with entry into the UK and Northern Irish markets, salaries rise to €282,100. At
this stage, permanent contracts will be offered to a General Manager, Marketing Manager
(who will take over the social media responsibility), Sales Manager, IT Manager and Office
Administrator. Moderators will continue to be employed on an ad hoc short term contract
basis. In Year 2, MindXplore will employ18 moderators costing €33,750 and 45 moderators
in Year 3 costing €84,100. PRSI is applied at 12% each year.
Rent, Rates and Insurance
In Year 1, office costs are €6,100, including broadband access. Rent is €300 a month (quote
from Mr. Philip Corballis for Dun Laoaghoire Offices; Swords Airside Enterprise Centre
have offices available for €420 monthly) with no rates cost.
Mr. Cormac O‘Braonain from Brennan Insurances www.brennaninsurances.ie, who
specialises in education insurance, quoted €2,500 in Year 1, €5,000 in Year 2 and €7,500 in
Year 3 for a combined package. This covers moderators for professional indemnity; office
contents; public and employers liability; internet security, hacking and cyber crime.
In Year 2, we will move to a larger premises with a cost of €5,400 (Mr. Philip Corballis
Landlord) with no rates cost. In Year 2 costs total €10,400.
In Year 3, MindXplore will move to larger premises - either serviced offices (a quote from
the Premier Office Group of €1480 for serviced offices) or lower costs of €1000 per month
from Mr. Philip Corballis). In Year 3, costs will be €19,500.
97
Technology Costs – Indirect
Our technology costs include computer hardware repairs and computer maintenance
(www.expresstech.ie/ ), printer ink costs (www.inkmaestro.ie), telephone costs (www.o2.ie )
and IT design/development (contractor costs through recruitment agency CPL www.cpl.ie).
In Year 1, the cost is €3,400 rising to €9,300 in Year 2 and €21,990 in Year 3. The increase in
Year 3 is attributed to costs arising from the development work needed for expansion into the
UK.
Office Administration Costs
In Year 1, office administration costs are €1,175 rising to €6000 in Year 2 and €21,083 in
Year 3. In Year 1, the sales representative expenses are estimated at €935. This is based upon
1000 miles travel at a civil service rate of 0.71, 10 lunches (€9) and 10 over nights stays
(€13.5). Costs increase in Year 2 and more dramatically in Year 3 due to more travel
expenses incurred by the sales person covering new territories across Ireland, Northern
Ireland and the UK.
Professional Fees
In Year 1, professional fees include the legal set up of MindXplore for €342 through
http://www.companysetup.ie/ . Book keeping (€290) and accountancy returns (€393.25) are
through Gorman Quigley Penrose (www.gqp.ie). The SAGE (www.sage.ie) instant
accountancy software package at a cost of €247 in Year 1 and cost of €1,272 in Year 3 for an
upgraded accountancy package SAGE Accounts Professional with sterling capability. In Year
2, costs rise to €5,647 due to audit fees, book keeping, accountancy returns and accountancy
software license. In Year 3, due to increased activity costs rise to €11,040.
98
Sales and Marketing
In Year 1, Sales and Marketing costs are €6,450 rising to €18,440 in Year 2 and €42,200 in
Year 3. We expect some economies of scale to offset increase costs associated with the
expansion into the UK market.
In Years One and Two, the main marketing costs will include online advertising which is
predominantly allotted to Google AdWords, with some spend going to educational or parent
websites, offline advertising targeting educational magazines, print material such as
brochures and signage, and direct marketing costs which mainly includes postage. In Year
Three there is a significant increase in spend due to the entry into the UK market. Here the
costs will include online and offline advertising (targeting parents and educators), expenses
incurred due to participation in educational exhibitions along with significant costs for print,
publicity and material and sales merchandise.
Bank Interest and Charges
In Year 1, Bank charges total €1268 rising to €1384 in Year 2 and €5020 in Year 3. We are
including Realex payments in our costs that are associated with electronic payment of fees.
Also included is electronic business banking in order to have access to bank account
information and funds. AIB electronic banking is called iBB and costs €200 a year paid
quarterly. There are a large number of potential banking costs (as can be seen on AIB‘s
website), including cheques and credit card fees. In Year 3 there will be more processing of
sterling and that will also increase bank fees. To process electronic payments, we have
chosen the Realax payments system with the monthly cost of €29 in Year 1, €32 in Year 2
and €185 in Year 3.
Currency
Numbers in the Profit and Loss account, the Cashflow Statement and the Balance Sheet are in
Euros.
99
Profit and Loss 2011-2014
2011
2012
2013
Revenues
School Sales
Parent Sales
Total
0
31435
31435
0
223680
223680
0
520000
520000
Cost of Sales
Technology Costs (direct)
1300
4980
11880
Gross Profit
30135
218700
508120
96%
98%
98%
16500
1980
18480
105750
12690
118440
282100
33852
315952
Rent Rates Insurance
Technology Costs - InDirect
Office Costs/Administration
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
Depreciation
Bank Interest and Charges
6100
3400
1175
1272
6450
0
1268
19665
10400
9300
6000
5647
18440
0
1384
51171
19500
21990
21083
11040
42200
0
5020
120833
Total Expenses
38145
169611
436785
Net Profit/Loss
-8010
49089
71335
Cumulative Profit/Loss
-8010
41079
112414
Gross Margin
Expenses
Salaries
Employers PRSI
100
Cashflow Statements (2011 - 2013)
2011
2012
2013
16000
0
0
Home Sales - 30 Days
0
31435
0
223680
0
520000
School Sales - 60 Days
0
0
0
47435
223680
520000
Technology Costs - Direct
1300
Technology Costs - InDirect
3400
4980
9300
11880
21990
Salaries
16500
105750
282100
PRSI
1980
12690
33852
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
1272
6450
5647
18440
11040
42200
Rates Insurance
2500
5000
7500
Rent
3600
5400
12000
Other Office Administration
1175
6000
21083
Bank Interest and Charges
1268
1384
5020
Total Costs
39445
174591
448665
Period Inflow (Outflow)
7990
49089
71335
Cumulative Inflow (Outflow)
7990
57079
128414
Inflows
Proprietary Investment
Debtors
Total Revenue
Outflows
101
Balance Sheet (2011 - 2013)
2011
2012
2013
Balance Sheet as at 31st August
Fixed Assets
Hardward and Software
Office Equipment
0
0
0
0
0
0
Total Fixed Assets
0
0
0
0
7990
0
57079
0
128414
0
0
0
0
0
0
7990
57079
128414
Loan Capital
16000
16000
16000
Total Assets/ (Liabilities)
-8010
41079
112414
-8010
41079
112414
-8010
41079
112414
Current Assets
Debtors
Cash at Bank
Current Liabilities
Creditors
Bank Overdraft
Net Current Assets
Capitalisation Account
Profit and Loss a/c
102
Break-Even Analysis
By our projections, MindXplore would break-even in the first year if 110 students signed up,
paying either for a full year up front (€520) or per term for the full year (€600). While this
may be possible, we have estimated that we will only obtain 90 students in our first year,
resulting in the loss of approximately €8,000. It should be noted that we have recommended
a maximum of 21 students per class, after which an additional class would be created (hence
the non-uniform profit/loss line in the graph).
As the first year is not a full 12 month year, we have estimated the average revenue per
student as follows:
75% paying per term (for 8 months), and 25% paying for the full year (for 8 months)
(75% @ €600) + (25% @ €520) for 8 out of 12 months = €387 per student
103
Risk Management
Kerzner (2009, p.462) defines risk management as ―the act or practice or dealing with risk. It includes planning for risk, identifying risk,
analysing risk, developing risk strategies, and monitoring and controlling risks to determine how they have changed.‖
No:
1
Risk Description
Economic Downturn Cuts:
Likelihood
Impact
(H,M,L)
(H,M,L)
H
M
Mitigation
1a. Find people who will buy. Parent‘s spending on children‘s
education is seen more as a necessity rather a desire.
Ireland is currently suffering an economic
downturn.
1b. MindXplore has future plans to expand to the UK where
there is a large G&T market (200,000 children)
2
Intellectual Property/VLE Competition
Growth.
A number of private schools are already starting
to develop their own versions of Moodle.
M
M
2a. Our system is bespoke and we will continually redesign
specifically for the G&T area that will be tailor made for our
target market.
2b. Unique offering of collaboration and social with other
geographically disparate G&T children
104
CTYI/MindXplore Partnership:
H
H
Make clear agreement about costs, marketing synergies and
staff sharing.
If there was interest, how do we clarify
synergies?
External Staff Reliance: We are relying upon a
M
H
small select talent pool for staffing and content.
Internal Staff Reliance: Each member brings
provide content and also cover absentee or sickness issues
M
H
something to make a balanced team
Staff Sabotage: Destroying or damaging their
L
H
H
good connection speeds.
Purchase fibre optic broadband for each moderator through
UPC.
M
H
broadband.
Attacks: Database details and Service
Ensure that staff are following best practice and following
rules and regulations.
Broadband Speeds: Each moderator needs very M
Denial of Service, Hacking & Security
Communication between team about motivation levels.
Renumerate key staff
technology from the inside of the company.
Broadband: No all students will have access to
Generate adequate pool of suitable candidates that will
Action: Make all MindXplore content and tutorials available
asynchronously.
L
H
Install a firewall and change passwords in line with security
policy.
Availability.
105
Website/Content Management System: A full
M
H
system audit will need to take place.
Legal Compliance Risk: Storing Private
Test system with live information in October 2011. Test again
before live in January 2012.
M
H
Personal Information (PPI) and cyber bullying.
Stay abreast of all changes and legalities. Adhere to the
jurisdiction of the local region. Monitor and have forum rules
and policies.
Directors Capital: The four directors are
H
H
students with limited access to funds.
UK Expansion: Will require large funding.
Directors would be working part time and their day job to pay
fund themselves.
H
H
Show track record in Ireland. Build contacts in the UK G&T
networks.
Sales: Projections are based upon offering new
to the market.
H
H
Conduct more research into market in future. Remain flexible
to potential new offerings.
Risk Management Policy:
We would envisage the development of a full risk management manual that would be a working document that would change and develop as the
company would grow. This would include all business risks, technological risks and people risks. It would also include an assessment of the
level of the risk by frequency and level of importance. This would need to be reviewed regularly to ensure that the company was not unduly
exposed to any new development.
106
Management Team
General Manager & Sales Director– Mr. Brendan Phelan
Brendan has a Degree in Commerce (UCD), a postgraduate diploma in PR, a Masters in
Design (DIT) and is a current student in the MECB program in DCU. He has over 20 years
fundraising experience working with private and public schools mainly through his own
company, Chapterhouse (www.fundraising.ie). He has a lot of experience managing his
company and relationship building with both parents and schools. He has been a Campaign
Director for 14 private schools including St Conleth's College and St Mary's College.
Duties Involved:

Co-ordinating the overall activity of the company

Overall responsibility for company performance

Deciding on courses of action for the company

Implementing strategic plans
Technology Director – Ms. Laura Ferry
Laura has a Degree in Computer Science and is a current student in the MECB program in
DCU. She has previously designed and created websites used by a local community club. She
is an expert on Search Engine Optimisation and Social Media Digital Marketing Plans as well
as designing, developing and testing fully functional database.
Duties Involved:

Responsible for all IT aspects in the business

Portal and Website Management

Database Management

SEO

Management of IT staff
107
Marketing Director – Ms. Maeve Whooley
Maeve has a Degree in Marketing and is a current student of the MECB program in DCU.
She has managed the marketing activities and strategies for RTÉ for over 200 events per
annum as well as management of all advertising - television, radio, print, outdoor and web.
She also has managed events such as launches, receptions, festivals and talks. Maeve has also
worked in PR and has strong media contacts.
Duties Involved:

Managing all marketing strategy and materials

Special promotions, partnerships, merchandising, joint initiatives and price
promotions

Social media management

Direct marketing and eMarketing campaigns
Financial Controller & HR Director – Terry O’Brien
Terry has a Degree in Business Studies, is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel
Development and is a current student in the MECB program in DCU. He also has a
Certificate in Employment. Since 1999, Terry has managed a HR recruitment and
outplacement service with full profit and loss responsibility for the company.
Duties Involved:

Financial management including credit control and cash flow control

Cost management including profit and loss and balance sheet generation

Management all HR issues

Issuing legal contracts to moderators and data protection issues
108
MindXplore Project Plan
Purpose of Plan
Elements of the PRINCE2 project management were used in the MindXplore project and a
number of these are included in this document. According to http://www.prince2.com/whatis-prince2.asp ―PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a process-based
method for effective project management. The key features of PRINCE2 are:
Its focus on business justification, a defined organisation structure for the project
management team, product-based planning approach, emphasis on dividing the project into
manageable and controllable stages and flexibility to be applied at a level appropriate to the
project.‖
The purpose of project plan was to ensure that we produced a sound business plan, a
technology report and a virtual learning environment for Gifted and Talented children.
Project Approach & Milestones
We divided the project into 7 main phases:
Milestones
Action
Completion Dates
Phase I:
Conduct primary & secondary research
29/04/2011
Phase II:
Allocate tasks and meet advisors.
05/07/2011
Phase III:
Develop and Design Technology
23/07/2011
Phase IV:
Conduct more primary research
30/07/2011
Phase V:
Testing and feedback on MindXplore Portal.
30/07/2011
Phase VI:
Update Business and Technology Plans
03/08/2011
Phase VII:
Final Document & Presentation
05/08/2011
109
Goals and Objectives
Business Goals and Objectives

Development of the (synchronous and asynchronous) VLE concept using test content

Detailed Business Plan and technology

Primary and secondary research on gifted children and use of VLE programmes in
education

Evidence regarding the need and benefit of VLE‘s in education
Project Goals and Objectives

Delivery on time of business goals above

To learn and gain experience of delivery a business project
Scope
Scope Definition

Primary and Secondary Research on gifted children using VLE‘s in education.

Development of the (synchronous and asynchronous) VLE concept using test content
(Maths)

Detailed income and expenditure projections

Technology Roadmap

Projected targets relating to potential partnerships and activities
Items outside Scope

A fully functional VLE (e.g. for gifted children)

Detailed analysis of subjects (e.g. for Junior Certificate, Transition Year, Leaving
Certificate or gifted children purposes)

The inclusion/creation of more than a test sample of educational content
Projected Budget

€200 covering focus group expenses, printing and photocopying.
110
Risk Assessment
Our Risk Assessment attempts to highlight what problems may occur during the project. It
will be continuously updated and included as an item for discussion in our regular practicum
meetings. It is the Project Managers responsibility to champion this area.
Initial Project Risk Assessment
Risk
Risk Level
L/M/H
Likelihood
Mitigation Strategy
of Event
Project Size
Person Hours
M: Over 2,000
Certainty
Assign Project Manager and key
tasks to every member.
Estimated Schedule
H: Over 6 months
Certainty
Need tight and clear time line
Project Definition
New Knowledge area M: Team members Likely
have to research area
Project Scope Creep
L: Scope change.
Assign research areas and report
findings into dropbox.
Unlikely
Continualy review scope
Project Leadership
Strong
project L: Identified and has Unlikely
manager
Very able to provide constant
previous experience
feedback to team members
M: Taking holidays Somewhat
Project manager to control days
during summer?
leave off the project
Project Staffing
Team Availability
Over
reliance
likely
on H: Laura is the only Likely
Continually support Laura and
Laura Ferry.
technical person
give her any help required.
Ignore Project Plan
L: Regular review of Likely
Update and make relevant to
plan
progress
111
Assumptions - Project Assumptions
The following assumptions were made in preparing the Project Plan:

Project team members will be committed and adhere to the Project Plan.

That the deadline is the 5th August.

Team members to take 1 weeks holidays. Be available for the remaining part of the summer
Constraints - Project Constraints
The possible constraints are: Time, money, availability of teacher/content provider and
availability to children for research and usability testing
Critical Project Barriers
Other than an act of war or a natural disaster there are no barriers with the exception of risks.
112
Project Roles and Responsibilities
Role
Project
Responsibilities

Manager
Project
Manages the project in accordance Terry O‘Brien
to the project plan

Liaison with the project participants

Communicate issues and progress
Participants
throughout the project to other
project members.
Project
Matter
Experts
Maeve Whooley
Brendan Phelan

Conducts work on time
Laura Ferry

Lend expertise and knowledge as
Ms. Geraldine Lavin
Supervisors
Subject
Participant(s)
required.

Business and technical wisdom

Provide extra assistance to project
design and delivery
Dr. Markus Helbert
Dr. Cathal Gurrin
Dr. Theo Lynn
113
Project Management Approach
Project Timeline
Task Analysis:
Phase
I
Step
Task
1.
Explore
Key point
the
opportunity
of Meet CTYI, discuss existing
providing an online portal for offering and what potential
CTYI
I
2.
online could offer.
Do secondary research on G&T Find out the size of the
kids in Ireland, UK and the market
English speaking world
II
3.
in
Ireland
and
potential abroad
Meet and discuss topic with Meet Ms. Geraldine Lavin,
practicum advisors
Dr. Markus Helfert and Dr.
Cathal Gurrin.
II
4.
Meet on practicum weekly
Constant work and updating
the team
II
III
5.
6.
Put together initial business plan Allocate tasks and areas to
with proposed sections
key people in the group.
Draw up a technology plan
Decide on the requirements
of a content management
system and website
III
7.
Find and test open source (free) Test and change various
educational content software
different content software
Have website up and running
III
8.
Design and develop the website
IV
9.
Meet Moderator to agree on Interview
content and delivery options
experience
somebody with
of
hands
on
CTYI moderating
114
IV
10.
Attend Conference on education Look
online and teaching methods
IV
11.
for
trends
and
developments in education
Conduct more primary research Target private schools and
with schools and parents as to parents of G&T kids in our
whether they pay for this service
V
12.
Testing
of
website
target market.
and Find
improvements
from
educational content management feedback of CTYI children
using a live lesson
V
13.
of MindXplore system
Update and change the website Change our technology and
and educational content software
delivering
depending
on
feedback
VI
14.
Update the Business Plan and Review
Technology Plan
VII
15.
Hand
in
Finished
Document and Poster
VII
16.
and
improve
presentation of document
Project Hand
in
document
and
poster on time
Presentation for the final stage of Put together an excellent
the project and prepare for presentation
defending it‘s justification
rebuttal
and
answers
prepare
and
questions.
Issue Management
A project plan changes over time as is normal within any project. These changes can have a
strong impact on the key success factors with a project including; Available Time, Available
Resources and Project Quality. The project manager in collaboration with the team members
will make changes to the project plan.
115
Communications Plan
It is important to have clear and regular communication throughout the project. It is also
noteworthy that key stakeholder buy in to the project is underpinned by good lines of
communication about progress, performance and issues.
MindXplore Gantt Chart
116
Client Engagement Process:
Please note that we are using CTYI as the client for illustrative purposes only to demonstrate
the client engagement process, as would be the case when used by a consultant of the Irish
Management Consultants and Advisors Ireland (IMCA) http://www.imca.ie/ . CTYI were
extremely helpful throughout the project and we endeavoured to ensure that we approached
the project professionally as if they have engaged our services as consultants.
The 5 steps are:
Step 1:
Exploring the Opportunity
We initially met with Dr. Colm O‘Reilly, Director and Eleanor Cooke, Academic
Coordinator, of CTYI on Thursday 3 March 2011 to find out more information about Gifted
and Talented young people. The purpose of the interview was to find out about:

CTYI

CTYI courses and content

Some background into the behavior and characteristics of Gifted children in Ireland

Educational resources available in schools

Insight into the type of children who attend the school

CTYI experience of using ICT and online resources
Step 2:
Requirements, proposal and contract
CTYI organise residential and non residential summer courses as well as correspondence
courses for G&T children. Our practicum group decided that we would like our applied
project to explore the possibility of an online resource for these children in the form of a
synchronous online virtual learning environment. CTYI gave an indication that they would be
very open to helping us complete this project through access to moderators, parents and coordinators. Although no contract was applicable in this situation, we gave an undertaking that
we would inform and present our findings to CTYI should they be interested.
117
Step 3:
Starting the Project
We started the project in March 2011 and put together a project team and time line for
activity. Initially the project team was Ms. Maeve Whooley, Mr. Brendan Phelan and Mr.
Terry O‘Brien. In early June, Ms. Laura Ferry joined the group. We put together a project
plan to implement the project which included a technology plan, a virtual learning portal as
well as a Business Plan, detailing how the product might be brought to commercialization.
Step 4:
Implementing the Project
After completing our exams in May, we started on the project in June by implementing our
project plan. The project plan involved 7 distinct phases. In June we moved into Phase 2
where we started to create our business and technology plans. In July we moved into Phase 3
and 5, where we designed, developed and tested the virtual learning site. In Phase we revisited our business plan when we conducted more primary and secondary research. Some of
this primary research was not possible due to the availability of certain focus groups and the
timing of CTYI course members. In early August we entered Phase 6 where we updated the
business and technology plans.
Step 5:
Disengaging
Finally in early mid August we enter Phase 7 where we submit the final document, prepare
for presentation and the rebuttal of our practicum. We propose that we will inform CTYI of
our findings from our report and demonstrate the MindXplore system. At this stage, it will
officially finish the client engagement process.
118
Team Signatory Code
Our aim as a group is to complete this project within the time constraints given.
1. We will arrange meeting time(s) each week, when required, in order to complete the
project at hand. We will remain in contact via email at all times
2. We will not argue but rather listen to each other‘s opinions in order to facilitate
communication among each of the group members
3. We will not judge each other‘s opinions based on personal biases but rather we will
discuss whether each idea/thought best suits the project at hand
4. A vote will be taken and the majority will decide
5. We have all verbally agreed to be present at each of the meetings
6. We have not voted on an outright leader of the group and, in turn, we are
equally responsible for the outcome, grades, and presentation of this project
Signed:
Maeve Whooley
10211166
_____________________________
Laura Ferry
10212704
_____________________________
Terry O‘Brien
90004876
_____________________________
Brendan Phelan
10212610
_____________________________
119
Conclusion
It is clear from the extensive research completed that there is a viable business opportunity in
the gifted market for MindXplore to exploit. We believe that we have a strategic advantage
due to our low cost, focus, differentiation and disruptive technology, compared to existing
competitors.
We have an experienced and balanced team who are focused on providing a high quality
service, while mindful of the current economic climate and the challenges ahead.
Next Steps for MindXplore
In order to progress MindXplore, we will consider undertaking the following activities:

Seek the support of key funding prospects (e.g. the propeller fund at the Ryan
Academy, INVENT etc.)

Refine the MindXplore system

Initiate discussions with CTYI, IGGY etc

Research and compile a shortlist of potential moderators

Establish a formal business structure (e.g. MindXplore Ltd)

Undertake further research into customer behaviour and expectations
Future Plans
From Year 4 onwards, there may be potential to develop in a number of ways:

Expanding our presence in the UK

Expanding the age range for Gifted & Talented children in Ireland / UK

Entering the Gifted & Talented market in the USA (via John Hopkins etc.)

Entering the Gifted & Talented market in other English-speaking countries (e.g.
Australia, New Zealand and Canada)

Entering the Gifted & Talented market for other English-speakers in non-English
speaking countries (e.g. China, India etc)
120
Appendix A: Competitor Analysis
Online Educational Sites
Company
Details
Price
Houghton Mifflin
Global education and learning company - world's largest provider of materials
Range of prices for CDRoms, online tools
for pre–K—12 learning. Collaborates with school districts, administrators,
etc. for US market
Harcourt
teachers, parents and students, providing interactive, results–driven learning
(was Riverdeep)
solutions.
Adobe
Provides digital creation, communication and collaboration tools for classroom.
Cross-curricular Free online curriculum and
training , Academic discounts are available
for teachers, administrators, and staff
Cambridge-
Primary school market: elearning company that combines the curriculum
Hitachi
knowledge and educational expertise of Cambridge University Press and the
i-learn products £39.95-£295
innovative technology of Hitachi software
Expresso
Includes Channel4learning, digital library of high quality, innovative, video-
£80-£100 for CD ROM/DVD and Site
Education, UK
rich, cross-curricular resources, all tailored to the National Curriculum, UK.
Licence
Espresso is available as a Primary service for schools (Foundation, Key Stages
1 & 2) and a Secondary service (Key Stages 3 & 4).
121
Mission V,
Using game based learning and virtual worlds technology for the support of
Ireland (NPO)
students; particularly those who are at risk of significantly underachieving and
N/A
those with high potential in for primary and secondary students – aimed at
schools
SAMI Ireland
Provides large and small scale school software and academic solutions for
Software Licences – prices range depending
Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Universities, VECs and Colleges of
on service, eg. €3000 1 year - €7000 3 year
further education. The software licensing services ranges from advice and
depending on type of system
support to long term software asset management. Microsoft Partner since 2003,
SAMI can tailor a unique software solution. Edvance complete school
management system and interactive learning platform designed exclusively for
Irish primary schools and Software4Student.
guroo
SAM Learning
Functional skills resources are specifically designed to engage today‘s learners,
£1849 (2 years £3199) per site - Unlimited
set in real-world contexts, include the types of mediastudents relate to, and help
access to the guroo service for all students
develop functionality in Maths, English and ICT at every level.
and their teachers for 12 months
SAM Learning GO! is the market leader in online revision and exam practice
Up to 700, £2,450 1 yr, £2,450pa – 3 yr
for KS3 and GCSE. Used by the majority of the UK‘s state secondary schools,
annual, £6,250 – 3 yr single payment, 701-
we have helped raise attainment for more than 3.4 million students over the last
1200, £2,900 1 yr, £2,950pa – 3 yr annual,
seven years.
£7,500 – 3 yr single payment, 1201+,
£3,450 1 yr, £3,450pa – 3 yr annual,
122
Third Force
Provider of e-learning solutions and services to over two million learners in
N/A
education, government, healthcare, hospitality and commercial organisations
worldwide. Based in Ireland, UK, Australia and Canada. ECDL in schools
kerboodle
Online resources for students, designed to sit alongside Nelson Thornes' Student £90-£500 - annual subscription
books.
Online and Grinds Tutors
Below is a summary of the online and grinds market in Ireland. We believe that this market could be seen as a competitor to MindXplore in
terms of spend by parents, the fact that they may be used by friends and/or family, exam preparation vehicle and also because this type of study
aid is established in the schools market.
BUSINESS
DETAILS
PRICE
24-7tuturials.com
Uses real-time text and audio technology to connect students and tutors.
one-to-one sessions priced at €15 per 20 mins, 5
Expert tutors are online and available now to help with all major subjects at
sessions €75, €10 sessions €150
2nd & 3rd level
Mocks.ie
Mock exam service - Experienced examiners correct exams , mark and make
Individual (from €2) and packs from €60-175 Junior &
recommendations
Leaving includes exam questions which arre corrected
123
grindsworld.com
grindstutor.com
Website with list of grinds in any subject for Junior Certificate, Leaving
Range 25-30 per hour to 50/60 2 hours, can vary
Certificate, Third Level, Music and Languages anywhere in Ireland.
depending on home visit (1to1) or classroom
One to one tutors online online for Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and
€37-€49 per hour
musical instruments
Kilroys College
Junior and Leaving Cert online
€361 (discount 15%) LC Maths, €267 (15% off) JC
Maths
grinds.allhonours.ie
Junior and Leaving Cert online
€35-37 ph
Teachnet.ie
Integrates ICT into the Irish curriculum. The website has numerous
Free
educational resources for Primary and Secondary students. Includes podcast
for gifted kids. Partners/supported by Mircosoft, St. Pats and Citi Group
skoool.ie
An online education website supported by Intel Ireland and used by 250,000
free
students and teachers.
Revisionworld.ie
Revision website for leaving and junior certificate students. It provides
Free
students with resources for the various subjects in both cycles. - includes ads
Gifted and Talented Market
Excluding CTYI in DCU which at the moment does not offer online courses, the following could be viewed as potential competitors for
MindXplore as they offer resources and services online to gifted and talented young people based in Ireland.
124
NAMES
PRODUCT/SERVICE
COST
CTYI Ireland
Ireland: Provide classes courses from various exciting academic CAT: €600 - commuter, €1200 disciplines for gifted and talented youth (6-16 years). Offers CAT (Centre residential, Summer Camp : €850 for Academic Talent) Saturday programme during school terms and commuter, €1700-residential
Summer Camps
Outside the Box
Learning Resources,
Ireland
Provides innovative professional development resources, which are €9.95-€50 price range
cutting edge, classroom focused, and embedded with thinking skills,
problem solving, critical and creative thinking, practical multiple
intelligence instruction and learning styles for the gifted and talented
children and parents
OLP (Oxford University), OLP tutors and contributors from the University of Oxford, developing Price £65-150 per student online courses
UK
and delivering online tutorial courses and master-classes and master- depending on subject
classes to high-ability youngsters, aged 8-17, across the globe.
Contributors include academics, tutors and post-doctoral researchers. Da
Vinci Group is our year round academic community
Da Vinci Group £29.99 subscription per
month
125
Rising Stars, UK
UK educational publishers of a range of resources for able, gifted and Books and software range from £50-£400
talented pupils across the curriculum created in association with NACE:
the National Association for Able Children in Education and are
underpinned by the quality standards for gifted and talented teaching and
learning. The range of resources are designed to challenge, engage and
extend more able children in any classroom Brain Academy and Dy Pi
Mysteries - Maths
Brightonline, UK
Created for schools in the Brighton & Hove 'Excellence in Cities' cluster N/A
working with 'Gifted & Talented' children aged 9-12. Offer links to
resources such as books, games, puzzles, software, DVDs, organisations
for gifted and talented youth
John Hopkins CTY, USA
Tuition for individually paced courses in math, computer science, and Individually paced courses: Price $680 science. Session-based courses for writing, language arts, engineering, 3mtns, $1302 - 6 mths, $1868 - mths.
and foreign language. Flexi-based courses - Students begin on a set start
date and work with their instructors to develop a flexible schedule to
complete the course within the following nine months
Session-based,
Session-based
courses
$200-$1281 depending on subject,
Flexi-based courses $745-$842
126
Online community for academically talented youth. It's a collaborative Free
Cognito
(John Hopkins CTY),
USA
effort by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth and
eight partner, that serve exceptional students, including the sponsors of
major math and science competitions and educators that work with
students in countries outside of US. Have games, tools, podcasts, blogs,
news updates, etc.
Descartes'
Cove
Math 6 CD Set, developed by John Hopkins CTY which follows the NCTM Descartes' Cove Math Series is $150,
(National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards for grades 6 to plus shipping charge and
Series
(John Hopkins CTY),
USA
8 - Measurement: The Rafting Journey Number & Operations, The
Sailing Ship Data Analysis & Probability, The Mining Cave Expedition
Algebra, The Underground River Adventure Geometry, The Secret Castle
Reasoning & Proof and The Volcano Adventure
Descartes' Cove Solutions Manual is $30,
plus
shipping
charge
($5
to
US
addresses, $10 for all others)
Education Program for Offers a wide range of online courses from the Kindergarten to Depending on subject: $100 - $125 - 4
Gifted Youth
(EPGY),
Standford
University level. Courses can be taken on a course-by-course basis on a weeks, $495- $600 1 terms, $555- $750
year-round calendar, full-time, part-time, or single course enrolment in 2 terms
the Online High School (OHS), a fully accredited, diploma granting,
University, independent school for grades 7-12.
USA
127
Hoagiesgifted.org, US
Website that provides educational resources and advice for gifted and N/A
talented children in US. It has information on programmes and links for
purchases of books, software, clothes and toys
Prufock Press, USA
US publisher of 300+ products focused on gifted education, gifted $14.95-$190.95 - books, book sets, dvds
children, advanced learning, and special needs learners.
128
Appendix B: Research
Secondary Research
Literature Review
1. The definition of ―gifted children‖ and its sub-categories (Interview Colm O’’Reilly);
2. The size of the ‗gifted youth market‘ in Ireland (S.E.S.S. Article, 2010) ;
3. Resources and support available in Ireland (www.gifted.ie);
4. How ICT can impact on Gifted Children (Gifted Techspectations, 2011) ;
5. Some key behaviours and characteristics of Gifted Children(Montgomery, D. 2009);
6. Learning Issues for Gifted Children in the classroom (CCEA , 2006);
7. Issues for parents and teachers of Gifted Children (Morawska & Sanders, 2008).
Department of Education and Science Reports:

Leaving Certificate Project Maths Syllabus – Project Maths for Foundation, Ordinary and
Higher Level in all schools other than 24 Pilot Project Mathematics schools

Revised Syllabuses in Junior and Leaving Certificate Mathematics – Mainstreaming of
Project Maths in all schools

Junior and Leaving Certificate Mathematics – Mainstreaming of Project Maths in all
schools

Circular 0055/20100 - Junior and Leaving Certificate Mathematics

Annual Statistical Report 2009-2010

Data Strategy 2008-2010

ICT in Schools – Inspectorate Evaluation Studies, 2008
Higher Education Authority (HEA) reports

National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, 2011

A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education , 2010

Open and Flexible Learning HEA Position Paper. November 2009

2009/2010 Higher Education, Key Facts and Figures
129
OECD reports:

PISA 2009 Results: Students On Line: Digital Technologies and Performance (Volume
VI), 2011-07-30

PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do: Student Performance in Reading,
Mathematics and Science (Volume I)
Attendance at DIVERSE 2011 International Conference
Wednesday 29th – Thursday 30th June
Attendance at the following talks and seminars:








Do ePortfolios foster Creativity? An Evaluative study in a professional development
context, Muireann O‘Keeffe, Dublin Institute of Technology
Piloting a digital game for educating about migration: initial feedback from the
classroom migration, Debbie Ging, Miriam Judge, Dublin City University
How Increasing Interactivity within web-lectures stimulates study effectiveness,
Gwen Noteborn, Katerina Bohle, Carbonell University, Maastricht
No, you weren‘t downloaded, you were born: New Digital Natives, New Digital
Divides, Dr Theo Lynn, DCU
Cross-Cultural Digital Storytelling: Implications for pedagogical innovation in
schools, Kristen Burden Snyder, Kevin Kuechel, Theo Beaudry
How am I, as an educational practitioner-researcher using new technology to enhance
educational learning? Marie Huxtable, University of Bath
Digital Media in Schools in Ireland, Ciaran McCormack, Creative Director of the FIS
"Family of projects
The Cast for Creative Video Literacy: What‘s at stake? Professor Michael Wensch,
Kansas State University
Key Findings









Online learning methods and systems
Use of collaborative learning online
Use of ICT/Digital for kids
Children‘s usage of ICT – instant gratification, independent and active involvement
OECD report – Irish usage of digital is above average however low usage of ICT in
schools
User generated content in classroom through digital media
Social Media and Community - it‘s purpose is to share not exchange content
Use of game-learning
Knowledge of software and online systems eg.Mahara
:
130
Primary Research
CTYI Interviews
Interview with Ms Eleanor Cooke
Key findings:

Gifted children are frequently gifted in one area (e.g. Maths) but ‗terrible‘ at another
(e.g. English)

Mostly gifted children behave like ‗regular‘ children but 20% of CTYI kids might
also have ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, Dyslexia, and to a lesser extent, Dyspraxia (i.e.
problems with co-ordination and/or speaking)

They make friends with the other G & Ts. They often feel different and alienated
from ‗regular‘ kids. They often stay in contact with each other

CTYI classes don‘t feed into the regular school curricula

Warwick University is the main centre for gifted & talented students in the UK

CTYI also run Summer Scholars programmes which are not just for the gifted &
talented percentile but also for, for example, the top 10% (launched by Niall Farrell)

There are 100-150 such Summer Scholars and 5,000 main CTYI secondary school
students in the summer with an estimated 27,000 gifted students in Ireland.

CTYI send brochures to every school, advertise (once annually) in the Irish Times,
have some public meetings in Dublin and Cork, but word-of-mouth is their best tool
for spreading their message
Interview with Ms Emily Duffy (13th July 2011)
Key Findings:
Characteristics of many G&Ts in classroom:

Learn very quickly

Get bored and frustrated very quickly

Easily distracted

Often have alternative approaches to problems

Can be demanding
131
Concerns re: G&T

Feel isolated socially and geographically

Feel frustrated academically in school which can lead to them under-achieving

Lack of engagement with the curriculum and exam system
Maths teaching
There is a big gap between the honours Junior and Leaving certificate courses in terms of
range of topics and level of difficulty. Thus G&T children can race through the JC curriculum
at school so need further stimulation to keep them interested. There is a wealth of materials
that can be used for both, particularly LC and the approach Emily suggested would be to
teach based on the curriculum however changing the order and manner in which it is taught
through MindXplore; with non exam questions but similar ones for problem solving
purposes. She recommended including a gaming element into the class content.
Parents – Focus Groups
Focus Group 1: 26th July 2011
Focus Group 2: 28th July
Participant profiles
GAS
CTYI
Parent 1 -2 teenagers 1 boy, 1 girl
Parents 1 and 2 - couple with a teenage son
Parent 2 – 1 girl primary age
Parent 3: teenage son
Parent 3 – 1 boy primary age
Parent 4: teenage boy
Parent 4 - 1 boy primary school
Parent 5 - 2 teenage boys
Teacher with 17 years experience of teaching
gifted children
132
Key findings
Discussion topic: How does it feel being a G&T parent?



Exhausting
Lack of support
Hard work – need to be organized
Discussion topic: what are the problems incurred by gifted children in the education
system?












Some gifted youth have learning difficulties such as ADHD, Aspergers
OR are categorised as ADHD etc. as teachers particularly in primary are unsure how
to deal with them – kids seem distracted
25-50% of time of class is spend by gifted children waiting for the other class to
catch- find it boring
Missed opportunity - their ability not realised in current education system
Kids get embarrassed by their ability – feel it‘s ‖not cool‖
Can be a target for bullying
New Junior cert reform – reduction in content which could have a negative impact on
g&ts
Collaborative-learning model is being pushed in education in general
Lack of challenging material at school
Not being understood by teachers
Not missing and socialising with other students
Underperforming
Discussion topic: What are the key characteristics/behaviour of your gifted child(ren)?











Get bored easily
Lacking motivation
Underperforming
Doing badly at schools, particularly at exams – no study skills
They give up – don‘t persevere
Need to be the best – feel pressure of competition
Emotional /hyper sensitive
Can be slow at carrying out homework/assignments as they are over-analytical and
are perfectionists
Being over-analytical
Poor socially
Shy, gets embarrassed easily
Discussion topic: What are the concerns for the children?
Social:
133


They‘re no different to other teenagers - They want to ―fit in and be accepted‖ – sense
of belonging
They want to work on more challenging material but don‘t want to be separated from
their friends
Discussion Topic: What do you think of the name MindXplore?


Like name, but felt it was more important that the children thought it was ―cool‖
Particularly liked personalised page My MX
Discussion Topic: What do you think of the website?







Logo and website design old fashioned
Design not exciting for children
Website is static
Need to attract the attention of the XBox generation – they‘ve short attention spans
Suggest using block of colour for background
Show subjects that they‘re interested in on the homepage
Write the copy that is more suited to young people – short, quick to read
Discussion topic: Rating MindXplore product features
Top features were Social, Accelerated Learning and Gaming element
Also Important: Collaboration, challenging and quality content, qualified and experienced
moderators
Quite Important - synchronous learning
Not Important – Free forum for parents
Discussion topic: What day and time would best suit for the scheduled classes?
GAS: Prefer Saturdays 6pm and maybe Wednesdays 7-8pm as many schools have half days
CTYI Parents: Difficult to pick a set time as they lead very busy lives and the parents are not
in charge of their schedule
Prefer Saturdays mornings or Sunday 8-9pm
Discussion topic: How much would you be willing to spend per class?
GAS: €10-€20 per session
CTYIL €20-25 per session
134
Discussion topic: Do your children use on or offline resources?
Attend CTYI
Khan Academy on Youtube – 3 parents mentioned this
Use gifted.ie for information on what resources are available
Cogito – 1 parent mentioned this site
Games online such as Puzzle Pirates
Other comments










Include feedback & certification
Ensure content is monitored (Forum)
Ensure moderator has Garda Vetting
How will students be evaluated to participate in the system?
Ensure moderator includes all students and ensures participation by all
Encourage perseverance from students
Individual work as well as collaborative work
Be aware of school workload
New and challenging content
User generated content
Students – Presentation & Survey
Students were shown a power point presentation which gave them an overview of the aims of
MindXplore and how we believed the system would work. Screenshots of the website and the
system were included in order to gain some feedback on the design and layout of the website.
The survey given to the students is shown below:
135
Survey Findings:
Social Media Sites Accessed
Other
(Forums)
15%
Facebook
35%
YouTube
29%
Twitter
21%
Participation in Maths Class
Yes
No
24%
76%
Website Layout
Very Good
Good
Acceptable
Poor
Very Poor
0% 0%
12%
35%
53%
136
Website Design
Very Good
Good
Acceptable
Poor
Very Poor
0%
12%
12%
41%
35%
Would you use MindXplore?
Yes
No
Maybe
41%
47%
12%
Reasons for not participating in maths

Boring & Repetitive

The teacher is difficult to focus on and the class can't stay quiet

It lags behind

My maths teacher has accepted my accelerated rate of learning, and assigns me
personal assignments

Yes, not that I need to but I like to get 100% in tests
137
Overall Feedback:

It serves its purpose well, a nice shade of 'Facebook' blue.

Less all white (colour/pictures around logo especially) Better Logo. Non hovering
buttons (background, no shadow)

Less drop shadow on buttons

Multiple themes and at some stage, custom themes

More harmonious colours as the colours scheme. 3 discchisdant???. The site looks too
much like a run of the mill boring website - it needs to be more exciting

Non curriculum content is vital, otherwise what's the point?
Schools – Interviews
Ms Ann Sheppard – Manager of St Conleth’s College, Dublin 4

CTYI is one of the only places available to send gifted & talented students

Gifted &Talented children often have difficulties in the classroom,

They can perform poorly in exams, and find it hard to apply themselves to their
studies.
Mr John Nesbith – IT Co-ordinator and Teacher at St Mary’s College, Dublin 6

John believed that the MindXplore product was much needed

It could also be utilised for the general population of students.

He was about to launch a VLE for St Mary‘s College using what he described as a
‗Moodle-type system‘ of Google Apps for Education.

Mr Mike Travers – Director of FutureKids (IT Service to Schools)

St Conleth's College is using SAMI (www.sami.ie) as their VLE system (although
Mike was also considering Windows Live or Skydrive. The SAMI system is linked
directly into the school's website and is accessed there.
138

He is trying to link the VLE with the school's Facility software (which many schools
use for their admin and report-generation).

Facility is the only Department of Education authorised software for such purposes.

Mike gave the example of how slow the Department is - The SAMI system in St
Conleth‘s is on hold at the moment as the developers are trying to get clearance from
the Department of Education & Skills. Such clearance can take years.

He could see the benefits of our online tuitions and would expect that, in time, schools
in general would want to be able to include video and audio recordings of
classes/talks onto their sites.

Mike also commented that, from his own experience of working with schools, it was
primarily fee-paying private schools that would commission the development of
VLEs (as they both had the funding and the authority to spend it), while non-feepaying schools would hire him to provide classes within their Transition Years only.
Mr Kevin Johnson –Director of International Group for Gifted Youth (IGGY),
University of Warwick

The Gifted & Talented environment in the UK has changed much over the last few
years. In 2002, the University of Warwick had created the National Academy for
Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) to provide support and courses for Gifted &
talented students.
This work was largely funded by the UK Government. This
funding was recently withdrawn, however, and Mr Johnson was unaware of any
central organisation or any National Strategy, dealing with gifted children.

In 2010, the University of Warwick created IGGY (International Group for Gifted
Youth).

While its purpose was initially to provide residential summer schools, its primary
purpose was to research into developing ―enhanced learning‖ through an eLearning
platform for Gifted students (aged 11-19 years).
139

His target is to get ―100,000 members worldwide in four years‖. Mr Johnson said
there was also a ‗sister organisation (IGGY Junior) catering to some extent for 7-11
year olds.

Both IBM and Cisco had invested significantly in IGGY. .

Mr Johnson said that he would be very interested in meeting with us at some point to
discuss what we could put together that might be ―mutually beneficial‖.
Mr. Gavin McCullagh, IT System Administrator, Griffith College, Dublin.
Griffith College have made lectures in the area of Law and Accountancy available to their
students across the world through asynchronous streaming of videoed lectures and notes. Mr
McCullagh stated that learners need to be self motivated. There is little or no social contact
between our learners and each other and also their lecturers. A social element would be
important to engage a learner if they were attending a non-professional course.
Mr. James Corbett, www.missionV.ie (Virtual Reality Company)
James regularly gives lectures and tutorials on Second Life in Ireland. Mission V is a
company trying to raise funds to make virtual reality available to G&T kids in 20 primary
schools in Ireland.
James was asked why hasn‘t Second Life taken off in Ireland in general and also as an
educational tool? He stated that

Second Life was very popular in the early mid nineties. However Second Life
changed the rules as to how to form groups and collaborate. People couldn‘t just
decide to do something in their virtual world. They had to ask permission to create
new groups from the management of Second Life. Broadband. Virtual reality requires
very good broadband and Ireland at this stage has limited capacity of broadband. In a
few years maybe Ireland will have enough fibre optic cable laid to cope with the
demands of a virtual reality.
140
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The information contained here is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, accurate. I have
read the University’s current research ethics guidelines, and accept responsibility for the
conduct of the procedures set out in the attached application in accordance with these
guidelines, the University’s policy on conflict of interest and any other condition laid down
by the Dublin City University Research Ethics Committee or its Sub-Committees. I have
attempted to identify all the risks related to this research, that may arise in conducting this
research, and acknowledge my obligations and the rights of the participants.
I have declared any affiliation or financial interest in this research or its outcomes or any
other circumstances which might present a perceived, potential or actual conflict of interest,
in accordance with Dublin City University policy on Conflicts of Interest.
141
Appendix C: Sales Calculations
Maths will be the first subject area on the system and will be available for Junior and Senior
cycle secondary school students. This is due to the concerns felt in both the educational and
industry sectors over the poor performances of Irish students in maths following the PISA the OECD group report,2010 which showed that Ireland is below the OECD average for
maths and and the changes in the maths curriculum with the introduction of Project Maths for
the Leaving Certificate.
Estimate Target Market
Our Sales figures are estimated using the following assumptions:
(1)
500,000 students attend Primary School
350,000 students attend Secondary School
 42% of students in Ireland are attending Secondary School
(2)
There are 27, 000 gifted students in Ireland
=> 42% of 27, 000 = 11,340
=> 11,340 gifted students attend Secondary School
(3)
According to Techspectations (2010) 87% of gifted students have access to broadband
=> 87% of 11, 340 = 9856
=> 9,856 gifted students have access to broadband internet
This means MindXplore have an estimated target market of 9,856 students
142
Maths is the only subject being taught in Year 1. We need to now estimate the number of
gifted students sitting maths exams in Secondary School.
(1)
59,000 students sat the Leaving Cert in 2010
55,000 students sat the Junior Cert in 2010
 114, 000 sat exams in 2010
(2)
8,390 students sat Higher Level Maths in the Leaving Cert in 2010
24,830 students sat Higher Level Maths in the Junior Cert in 2010
 33, 230 sat a state Higher Level Maths exam in 2010
(3) This means 29% of students sitting State exams in 2010 sat a higher level maths exam.
Sales Year 1 Calculations:
Possible Target Market: 9,856
29% of Target Market (those who sit Maths)
 29% of 9, 856 = 2,858
For our Sales in Year 1 we believe we will achieve sales to a very conservative portion of this
market: 3%
3% of 2,858 => 85.4
 Assumption of 90 students
143
Number of Courses Year 1
Students
Classes
Junior Certificate Cycle
18
1
Leaving Certificate Cycle
72
3
Total Classes
4
Sales Year 1
Cost
Payment Amount by Direct Debit
Payment Amount By Term
Numbers of Sales
Revenue
520
20
10400
Term 1 – 250
Term 1 – 0
0
Term 2 – 250
Term 2 – 70
17500
Easter - 100
Easter - 70
7000
24500
Total Sales
34900
Sales Year 2 Calculations:
In Year 2 we expand our range of subjects offered and so we do not need to limit our market
to those who sit Maths.
Possible Target Market: 9,856
For our Sales in Year 2 we believe we will achieve sales to a very conservative portion of this
market of approximately 4%
~4% of 9,856 => 384 students
144
Number of Courses Year 2:
Subject Matter
Students
Number of Classes
English LC
48
2
Number of
Moderators
1
History LC
Business LC
14
18
1
1
1
1
Physics LC
15
1
1
Chemistry LC
18
1
1
Biology LC
51
2
1
Maths LC
72
3
1
Maths JC
Science JC
19
46
1
2
1
1
English JC
49
2
1
History JC
Business JC
17
17
1
1
1
1
Totals
384
18
18
Average
21 per class
Revenue Year 2
Cost
Payment Amount by Direct Debit
Payment Amount By Term
Numbers of Sales
Revenue
520
84
43680
Term 1 – 250
Term 1 – 300
75000
Term 2 – 250
Term 2 – 300
75000
Easter - 100
Easter - 300
30000
223680
Total Sales
34900
145
Sales Year 3:
(1)
350,000 children in Secondary School in Ireland
In Year 2, MindXplore ran 18 courses catering for these children
The ratio of our courses to secondary students in Ireland is: (18÷350000) = 0.00005
It is calculated that with its standard school measure that the number of gifted students in
schools in England is 10%. (NAGC, 2011) We are taking this assumption of 10% for our
figures in England. We do not have figures for the number of gifted students in Northern
Ireland so we will take the total number of students, for illustrative purposes.
(2)
3.6 million Students in Second Level in the England
147,902 Students in Second Level in the Northern Ireland
Gifted Students in England (10%) => 360,000
Northern Ireland (Total Students) = > 147,902
 Potential Target Market: 507,902
(3)
507,902 * 0.0005 = 25.4 = > 26 classes
England & Northern Ireland:
26 classes with 20 people per class => 520
Ireland:
19 classes with 20 people per class => 380
146
Revenue Year 3
Cost
Payment Amount by Direct Debit
Payment Amount By Term
Numbers of Sales
Revenue
520
250
130000
Term 1 – 250
Term 1 – 650
162500
Term 2 – 250
Term 2 – 650
162500
Easter - 100
Easter - 650
65000
390000
Total Sales
520000
147
Appendix D: Leaving Certificate Maths
Statistics
Leaving Certificate Maths Results 2008, 2009, 2010
148
Appendix E: Financials
CashFlow Year 1
Sep-11
Oct-11
Nov-11
Dec-11
Jan-12
Feb-12
Mar-12
Apr-12
May-12
Jun-12
Jul-12
Aug-12
16000
0
0
16000
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
6700
6700
6700
6700
6700
6700
7867
7867
867
867
867
867
867
867
867
867
145
450
400
48
613
540
2500
300
105
250
1100
132
24.16
2800
105
250
1100
132
24.16
40
105
350
1100
132
24.16
190
105
250
1650
198
205.67
1550
105
250
1750
210
54.42
190
105
250
1750
210
54.42
190
105
250
2050
246
54.42
190
105
250
1500
180
54.42
190
105
350
1300
156
54.42
190
105
250
1300
156
54.42
190
105
250
1500
180
54.42
190
300
300
300
300
300
300
300
300
300
300
300
20
20
100
60
29
20
200
60
29
20
100
110
29
20
235
60
29
20
100
60
29
20
100
110
29
20
100
60
29
20
20
20
20
60
29
110
29
60
29
60
29
240
935
920
348
Inflows
Inward Investment
Debtors
Home Sales - 30 Days
Total Revenue
Outflows
Technology Costs - Direct
Technology Costs - InDirect
Salaries
PRSI
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
Rates Insurance
Rent
Other Office Costs/Administration
Sundries
Expenses
Bank Interest and Charges
Realex Payments
Total Costs
Period Inflow (Outflow)
Cumulative Inflow (Outflow)
110
29
16000
0
31435
47435
1300
3400
16500
1980
1272.09
6450
2500
3600
5,155
4,920
2,260
2,460
4,603
3,068
3,118
3,404
2,688
2,614
2,464
2,688
39,445
10845
10845
-4920
5925
-2260
3665
-2460
1205
2097
3302
3632
6933
3582
10515
4463
14978
-1821
13156
-1747
11409
-1597
9811
-1821
7990
7990
149
CashFlow Year 2
Inflows
Inward Investment
Sep-12
Oct-12
Nov-12
Dec-12
Jan-13
Feb-13
Mar-13
Apr-13
May-13
Jun-13
Jul-13
Aug-13
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
28640
28640
28640
28640
28640
28640
3640
3640
28640
28640
28640
28640
28640
28640
33640
33640
3640
3640
3640
3640
3640
3640
3640
3640
223680
223680
415
415
415
415
€415
415
415
415
415
415
415
415
4980
1400
6450
774
396.84
5600
2500
450
700
150
32
18868
1400
9000
1080
150
2720
2500
450
700
50
32
18497
650
9000
1080
150
800
650
9000
1080
150
800
650
9000
1080
150
4720
650
9000
1080
150
600
650
9000
1080
750
800
650
10500
1260
750
800
650
8700
1044
750
400
650
8700
1044
750
400
650
8700
1044
750
400
650
8700
1044
750
400
450
700
50
32
13327
450
700
150
32
13427
450
€700
50
32
17247
450
700
50
32
13127
450
700
150
32
14027
450
700
50
32
15607
450
100
50
32
12591
450
100
150
32
12691
450
100
50
32
12591
450
100
50
32
12591
9300
105750
12690
5646.84
18440
5000
5400
6000
1000
384
174591
9772
7990
10143
17762
27905
15313
27905
43218
-9787
43218
33431
11393
33431
44824
15513
44824
60337
14613
60337
74950
18033
74950
92983
-8951
92983
84032
-9051
84032
74981
-8951
74981
66030
-8951
66030
57079
49089
7990
57079
Debtors
Home Sales
Total Revenue
0
Outflows
Technology Costs - Direct
Technology Costs - InDirect
Salaries
PRSI
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
Rates/Insurance
Rent
Office Costs/Administration
Bank Interest and Charges
Realax Payments
Total Costs
Period Inflow (Outflow)
Cumulative Inflow (Outflow)
Cumulative Inflow (Outflow)
17762
150
CashFlow Year 3
Sep-13
Oct-13
Nov-13
Dec-13
Jan-14
Feb-14
Mar-14
Apr-14
May-14
Jun-14
Jul-14
Aug-14
Inward Investment
Debtors
Home Sales - 30 Days
0
0
65000
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
65000
65000
10833
65000
65000
65000
75833
10833
10833
10834
10834
0
0
520000
Total Revenue
65000
65000
65000
10833
65000
65000
65000
75833
10833
10833
10834
10834
520000
990
3395
19200
2304
2108.13
10800
7500
1000
2120
300
185
49902
990
3395
24500
2940
350
8700
0
1000
2120
200
185
44380
990
1520
24500
2940
350
1400
0
1000
2120
200
185
35205
990
1520
22500
2700
350
6400
0
1000
2120
300
185
38065
€990
1520
22500
2700
350
5500
0
1000
€2,120
200
185
37065
990
1520
24500
2940
350
1400
0
1000
2120
200
185
35205
990
1520
24500
2940
350
3800
0
1000
2120
300
185
37705
990
1520
27500
3300
350
1300
0
1000
2120
200
185
38465
990
1520
23100
2772
350
1300
0
1000
2120
200
185
33537
990
1520
23100
2772
350
1200
0
1000
667.5
300
185
32085
990
1520
23100
2772
5432
200
0
1000
667.5
200
185
36067
990
1520
23100
2772
350
200
0
1000
667.5
200
185
30985
11880
21990
282100
33852
11040.13
42200
7500
12000
21082.5
2800
2220
448665
57,079
72,177
92,797
122,592
95,360
123,295
153,090
180,385
217,753
195,049
173,798
148,565
57,079
72,177
92,797
122,592
95,360
123,295
153,090
180,385
217,753
195,049
173,798
148,565
128,414
128,414
Inflows
Outflows
Technology Costs - Direct
Technology Costs - InDirect
Salaries
PRSI
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
Rates/Insurance
Rent
Office Administration
Bank Interest/ Charges
Realax Payments
Total Expenses
Cumulative Inflow
Cumulative Inflow
(Outflow)
151
Profit and Loss 2011
Revenues
Profit and Loss 2012
Profit and Loss 2013
Revenues
Revenues
Parent Sales
Total
31435
31435
Parent Sales
Total
223680
223680
Cost of Sales
Technology Costs
1300
Cost of Sales
Technology Costs
Gross Profit
30135
Gross Profit
218700
Gross Profit
508120
Expenses
Salaries
Employers PRSI
Sub Total
16500
1980
18480
Expenditure
Salaries
Employers PRSI
Sub Total
105750
12690
118440
Expenditure
Salaries
Employers PRSI
Sub Total
282100
33852
315952
4980
10400
9300
6000
5646.84
18440
0
1384
51170.84
Home Sales
Total
Cost of Sales
Technology Costs
Rent Rates Insurance
Technology Costs - InDirect
Office Costs/Administration
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
Depreciation
Bank Interest and Charges
520000
520000
11880
Rent Rates Insurance
Technology Costs - InDirect
Office Costs/Administration
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
Depreciation
Bank Interest and Charges
6100
3400
1175
1272
6450
0
1268
19665
Rent Rates Insurance
Technology Costs - InDirect
Office Costs/Administration
Professional Fees
Sales & Marketing
Depreciation
Bank Interest and Charges
19500
21990
21082.5
11040.13
42200
Total Expenses
38145
Total Expenses
169610.84
Total Expenses
436784.63
Net Profit/Loss
-8010
Net Profit/Loss
49089.16
Net Profit/Loss
71335.37
5020
120832.63
152
Balance Sheet 2011
Balance Sheet 2012
2011
Balance Sheet as at 31st August
Balance Sheet 2012
2012
2013
Balance Sheet as at 31st August
Balance Sheet as at 31st August
Fixed Assets
Hardward and Software
Office Equipment
0
0
Fixed Assets
Hardward and Software
Office Equipment
0
0
Fixed Assets
Hardward and Software
Office Equipment
0
0
Total Fixed Assets
0
Total Fixed Assets
0
Total Fixed Assets
0
Current Assets
Debtors
Cash at Bank
0
7990
Current Assets
Debtors
Cash at Bank
0
57079
Current Assets
Debtors
Cash at Bank
0
128414
Current Liabilities
Creditors
Bank Overdraft
0
0
Current Liabilities
Creditors
Bank Overdraft
0
0
Current Liabilities
Creditors
Bank Overdraft
0
0
Net Current Assets
7990
Net Current Assets
57079
Net Current Assets
128414
Loan Capital
16000
Loan Capital
16000
Loan Capital
Total Assets/ (Liabilities)
-8010
Total Assets/ (Liabilities)
41079
Total Assets/ (Liabilities)
Capitalisation Account
Profit and Loss a/c
Capitalisation Account
-8010
-8010
Profit and Loss a/c
16000
112414
Capitalisation Account
41079
41079
Profit and Loss a/c
112414
112414
153
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