Mr.Gilfus launched a distinguished career as a founder and principal designer of the one of the world’s leading e-learning platforms (Blackboard Inc.) His work with educational institutions, leading industry publishers, technology partners, industry investors, and standards bodies has helped facilitate global educational opportunities and the development of online learning capacity.
Gilfus has provided leadership strategies to some of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions and world publishers as the primary author of the “Educational Technology Framework,” a model used to guide hundreds of academic institutions to contemplate the organizational, technological, and social impact of educational technologies on schools, districts, educational organizations, and institutions.
He is recognized by many organizations as a key driver behind the growth of the eLearning industry and has presented at hundreds of academic institutions and industry conferences.
Mr. Gilfus has been active in various professional associations and community service organizations throughout his career. He has been a long-time member of EDUCAUSE. He serves on the board of directors of several companies with education initiatives including the Student Employment Council. He leads an extensive network as the organizer and head of the Blackboard, WebCT, Angel Learning and IBM Education Alumni organizations with deep relationships at 85% of the companies in the education space.
In 2007, Mr.Gilfus left Blackboard, became an independent consultant, and formed the Gilfus Education Group, an independent non-biased organization that brings together a team of highly skilled industry professionals that foster global education innovation. The team partners with today’s organizational and industry leaders to develop effective and lasting improvements to education and provides independent consulting, technical implementation, and industry research services to educational institutions, industry investors, and the educational companies that serve them.
Stephen has presented and keynoted several leading global industry conferences and has lectured on teaching and learning on the Internet and the growing online education industry. He has a unique ability to apply complex technology to real world problems, a key factor in the industries growth and institutional technology adoption. He is a highly sought-after speaker and presenter at various forums on education and technology.
He is currently providing consultation to several delegations on innovative areas including the development of organizational capabilities for online learning programs, learning platforms, digital content repositories and distribution, enterprise resource planning and student information systems, community platforms, shared services, and the development of both physical and virtual universities in Australia, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Albania, Morocco and the United States.
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As a founder of Blackboard, Stephen guided the original vision, business strategy, product development, and sales and marketing efforts for the company, providing value to educational clients such as Yale University Medical School, Cornell University, and the University of Pittsburgh and thousands of others, developing the product that is now core to the Blackboard platform.
Blackboard was formed by the joining of two companies: CourseInfo LLC, a course management system company, founded by Stephen Gilfus while at Cornell University, and Blackboard LLC, founded by Michael Chasen and Matthew Pittinsky. Originally, the Blackboard company began as a consulting firm contracting to the non-profit IMS Global Learning Consortium developing elearning specifications. CourseInfo was the most popular Course Management System in use at the time. In 1998, the two companies combined to become known as Blackboard Inc.
Mr. Gilfus was instrumental in growing the company through five private rounds of financing – raising over $100 million dollars in venture capital and in 2004 helped take the company public on the NASDAQ (BBBB) where it has achieved over 200% stock appreciation. His expertise managing fast growth Internet software companies coupled with his entrepreneurial passion was critical to the companies success and ability to go from start-up to a public company, in 2004. The company enjoys over $350 million in annual revenues, with ~1200 employees with flagship products being used by millions of students across more than 3,600 institutions in 70 countries.
Corporate and Product Strategy
As Blackboard’s corporate strategist, he developed programs that fostered sales, facilitated partnerships, and developed key industry relationships. As a software designer, and through interactions with leading educators, he aligned the company’s product development organization to the technical and pedagogical needs of educators by developing the companies product strategy and road map. His efforts lead to innovative and inventive products in the course management, content management, content repository and distribution and community/portal categories. In addition, Gilfus transformed the Blackboard product line and the company into a partner friendly platform by introducing Blackboards Building Blocks, aligning the companies platform with educational technology standards (IMS) and facilitating the development of a Blackboard SCORM 1.2 Player with the ADL Co-labs. Mr. Gilfus has maintained a reputation for being an educational innovator and visionary.
Education Industry Development
Through his work in participating in industry standards bodies, he developed a content distribution system to enable publishers to create and distribute educational materials directly into the Blackboard platform. In this capacity, he collaborated with some of the worlds leading publishers to enhance their current offerings through educational technology. He developed, designed, and implemented Pearson Education’s Course Compass product, Reed Elsevier’s Evolve and, Houghton Mifflin’s (Now Cengage) EduSpace. In this same capacity and as head of the companies professional service division, he helped build core capabilities for Laureate (Sylvan), KC Distance Learning, Florida Virtual High School, DeVry, Capella, Strayer University, eArmyU (now, GoArmyEd), and hundreds of others.
The following list of items have been referenced in numerous other bodies of works, articles and doctoral thesis, as well as, in depth studies on the evolution of online learning and the eLearning education industry.
- April 25, 2000, Blackboard Learning System, inducted into the archives for inclusion in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s IT Innovation Collection and received the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Award for its leadership in using information technology to improve society.
- Gilfus, Stephen (2000-12-20). “Product Strategy and Development Roadmap“(PDF). Blackboard Inc.(Product strategy for the core Blackboard platform from V4 – V6 and beyond.)
- Gilfus, Stephen; Pittinsky, Matthew (2000-01-01). “Product Strategy and Vision White paper on (B2) Initiative” (PDF). Blackboard.(Pragmatic partner program for the extension of the Blackboard platform.)
- Roberts, Judy; Beke, Jensen, Mercer (2000-12-20). “Harvesting Fragments of Time“. McGrawHill Ryerson. (Team Researcher)(Led by McGraw-Hill to design a model around “mobile learning” device distribution for students.)
- Yaskin, David; Gilfus, Stephen (2001-01-10) “Blackboard 5: Introducing the Blackboard 5 – Learning system“. Blackboard Inc.(1st extension of the product strategy outlined in 2000. This is V.5)
- Yaskin, David; Gilfus, Stephen (2002-03-23) “Blackboard 5 – Release 5.5 Overview“. Blackboard Inc.(A Release 5.5 Update.)
- Gilfus, Stephen (2002-09-15) “Release of Bb SCORM Player“. Blackboard Inc..(SCORM 1.2 Player in collaboration with the National Defense University, ADL Co-Labs, and the DOD)
- Gilfus, Stephen (2004-12-20) “Educational Technology Framework“. Blackboard Inc. – Stephen Gilfus (Partial outline of the ETF, for educational technology adoption. Contact Us for further discussion.)
- Ellis, Cathy (2004-04-23) “Benchmarking Blackboard– From Champions To Transformers“. BbMatters.(An independent article on the Educational Technology Framework.)
- Gilfus, Stephen (2009-04-10) ““Social Learning” Buzz Masks Deeper Dimensions“. Gilfus Education Group(One issue with today’s offerings for social software in education is that they are being presented as “social learning” solutions, but they are not being designed, packaged or integrated with the greater concepts of social learning theory in mind.)
- Gilfus, Stephen (2009-10-25) “Intelligence Emerges from Enterprise Education Platform“. Gilfus Education Group(One of the most acute information technology gaps at colleges today is the huge discontinuity between the LMS and the ERP.)
As an early industry participant in the development of the eLearning space, Mr. Gilfus participated in several standards organizations and industry working groups from 1997 – 2003. In this capacity, he was a member of the content packaging and common cartridge working groups assisting in the development of the common cartridge format. In 2001, he built a centralized distribution model for some of the world’s leading publishers to deploy learning content into leading learning management systems using IMS specifications. He has also participated in and fostered projects that facilitated MathML, QTI (Question Test Interoperability) and LTI (Learning Tool Interoperability).
In 2002 he led a project that developed and launched a SCORM 1.2 player, in collaboration with the National Defense University the ADL-Co-labs and the Department of Defense, as an add on to the leading course management platform facilitating content relationships with several self-paced content providers and in support of training deployments.
As part of his professional services experience and leading a team that assisted 100’s of universities he worked with industry standards groups and leading ERP vendors including, Microsoft, PeopleSoft, Datatel and SunGard, SAP and others to develop technologies that allowed for the seamless transference of data, common authentication and identity management mechanisms for secure enterprise deployments.
IMS Global Consortium
In service to the community of organizations and individuals enhancing learning worldwide through the use of technology, IMS GLC is a global, nonprofit, member association that provides leadership in shaping and growing the learning and educational technology industries through collaborative support of standards, innovation, best practice and recognition of superior learning impact.
IMS GLC represents more than 140 Member organizations and Common Cartridge Alliance participants. These participant organizations come from every sector of the global learning community. They include hardware and software vendors, educational institutions, publishers, government agencies, systems integrators, multimedia content providers, and other consortia. IMS provides a neutral forum in which members work together to advocate the use of technology to support and transform education and learning.
The ADL Initiative develops and implements learning technologies across the U.S. Department of Defense and federal government. We collaborate with government, industry, and academia to promote international specifications and standards for designing and delivering learning content.
DoD directed the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD P&R) to create the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative in November 1998. Executive Order 13111, signed on January 12, 1999 by President William J. Clinton, tasked the DoD with leading Federal participation with business and university groups and activities and charged them with developing consensus standards for training software and associated services.
In 1999, DoD established an ADL Co-Laboratory in Alexandria, Virginia to provide an open forum for collaborative development and assessment of technical standards, prototypes, and associated tools in support of DoD needs. Since that time, it has fostered the development, dissemination, and maintenance of guidelines, tools, methodologies, and policies for the cost-effective use of advanced distributed learning resource sharing across DoD, other Federal agencies, and the private sector.
Mr. Gilfus’s roots in entrepreneurship began at Cornell University where he was an academic scholar and participated in Cornell’s multi-disciplinary approach to education.
Cornell Entrepreneur Organization
During his undergraduate program, he worked in the Office of the Registrar, was an administrative TA for a leading business planing class, and won an undergraduate award in his department for exceptional business planning and consulting. In this capacity, he launched the Cornell Entrepreneur Organization, bringing together undergraduate business students and engineers, generating new ideas and socializing with successful alumni entrepreneurs
CourseInfo LLC. (A Cornell Start Up)
While at Cornell University, he wrote the business plan for CourseInfo, titled, “Making Education Easier,” and brought together a select group of undergraduate and graduate students in developing the business. CourseInfo began building web pages for instructors, adding technology scripts and capabilities that allowed them to have more control of the course environments. This effort eventually led to the development of a learning platform and technology that is still core to the market-leading learning management system. As part of his development efforts, he brought together key clients including Cornell University, Yale Medical School, University of Pittsburgh, and several others, fostering innovation in eLearning and developing CourseInfo’s fundamental business. CourseInfo LLC. eventually merged with Blackboard LLC. to form Blackboard Inc.
Entreprenuership@Cornell Advisory Council
Mr. Gilfus is on the Advisory Council of Cornell’s Entrepreneurship@Cornell program. The program works with all campus schools, colleges, and organizations to help create and promote entrepreneurship education, events, and commercialization.
Cornell University traces its origins to the vision of an entrepreneur and an educational innovator who together saw the opportunity to create a new kind of university for America. By combining traditional subjects with new, emerging, and practical areas of inquiry, Ezra Cornell and Andrew D. White built a university singularly able to address the needs of 19th century America. – View the rest of Cornell University President David J. Skortons Welcome message.
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Please note the Alumni groups require that you be an Former-Employee of those companies while any fellow educator can join the Gilfus Education Group.