ETEC 522: Ventures in Learning Technology


This course is about the digital frontiers of learning and the skills required to be a successful pioneer.

New technologies are being plugged into education at an overwhelming rate. Why are some successful and others not? How can you stay ahead of change and confidently lead the change you’re passionate about? This course is an immersion in the global learning technologies marketplace with particular emphasis on the creation and launch of original “ventures” (any startup, nonprofit, institutional, or in-school project that strives to achieve something new and valuable in education).

Don’t worry, this is not a ‘business’ course. We will dive into the latest emerging technologies, and all kinds of ventures arising from them, to build a critical framework for understanding opportunity development, not management process. If you have lots of business experience, or none, you’re in the right place if you’re excited by the future of learning.

ETEC 522’s instructor is David Vogt, who is a serial entrepreneur and innovation leader. The course was conceived because not enough education professionals believe they can venture – they tend to leave this to engineers and MBAs – which is one reason why so many learning technologies ventures fail. However, even if you’re not inspired to be an entrepreneur or change maker, take this course if you want to understand the forces, processes, and people that make change, simply to have it work in your favour.

Learning Objectives

Education needs more bold, skillful pioneers, and we’re doing everything we can to encourage and equip you for this worthy calling.  The learning objectives of 522 can therefore be summarized as follows:

  1. Savvy: A working knowledge of the design principles and market processes impacting the success of learning technologies ventures in the public and private sectors;
  2. Acumen: Critical evaluation of learning technologies ventures and emerging markets;
  3. Leadership: Strategies to ‘pitch’ and champion new learning technologies ventures; and
  4. Initiative: Confident proactivity in the application and critique of emerging online tools and services.

Your success in this course will require sound research, independent thought, creative synthesis, teamwork, and focus. Not surprisingly, these are also the key requirements for success with any venture.


ETEC 522 deliberately explores and experiments with emerging technologies, so it occurs in an open WordPress blog rather than the confines of the UBC Canvas LMS. You can access the ETEC 522 WordPress site here.

The course employs role playing (you will act as professional analysts and entrepreneurs); participatory scholarship (you are co-researchers, not students); collective curation (everyone actively authors, reviews, rates, and recommends content); regenerative curriculum (every cohort self-selects and authors their own curriculum, building upon the work of previous cohorts); and open publishing (your work will be published live to the web).

ETEC 522 begins with a Boot Camp (a 4-week immersion in the fundamentals of global markets, entrepreneurship, and successful ventures), followed by an Opportunity Fair (an 8-week team-driven exploration of the educational merits of emerging technologies), and ends with a week-long Venture Forum (students ‘pitch’ an original venture of their own design).

Readings & Resources

All of the research and analysis of previous cohorts is immediately available on the course site, hosted in WordPress, along with leading market research works, pertinent academic literature, and an ever-fresh ‘pitch pool’ of venture pitches created by real-world change-makers, including past students. No additional textbooks are required.

Assignments & Assessment

The course is assessed on four facets of participation:

  • an individually-published Market Analysis of a specific existing product, service, venture or market (25%)
  • a group analysis of an emerging learning technologies market segment (25%)
  • an individually-published Venture Pitch for a new venture related to learning technologies (25%)
  • and a Participation Portfolio (25%) summarizing other contributions to the course.

Your major works will be professional in context, not academic – they will be authored to serve an open, global audience of education professionals like yourself. You will be able to distinguish yourself via creativity, critical thought, design, and presentation.

Minor course topic, activity, reading/resource, and assignment details may change from year to year.