The Business Plan, MDDE 605

I dreaded taking MDDE 605, as I had no interest in the 'business' side of education and I knew that this lack of interest would make it a difficult course for me. In addition to this lack of interest, prior to taking the course, I had found previous students' proposals online and I was completely overwhelmed by the length of their proposals. I felt overwhelmed with the course before I even started taking the course.

For the strategic business plan, I decided to start my own fictitious business where I would offer access to high quality online math videos, which use simple language, and are simple to understand--perfect for second language learners that are at the lower levels. In the beginning of writing the proposal, I didn't really believe in my business, I was just writing an assignment--going through the motions; however, part way into writing the proposal, I made a decision to believe that my business would work and to write the proposal from the perspective of a passionate entrepreneur. Changing my perspective helped me really get into the writing of the proposal--simply because I believed in it. I started to enjoy completing a system researching about the current and future market of online math videos; discovering who would be my target market; learning who my competitors were and how I would compete with them; and deciding on appropriate technologies that would suit my needs, my customers' needs, and still allow the company to receive a return on investment. Even though I started to enjoy the process, learning a new style of writing, writing a business plan, was quite challenging. (4.1, 4.2, 6.1, 6.3, 6.4).

Part way through writing the business plan I recognized a major problem, I discovered another company that was offering high quality math videos at really low prices. At first, I thought I couldn't continue with my business plan as it was no longer feasible to provide a high quality cost efficient product for the consumer. However, in order to maintain a competitive edge and keep the costs low for the consumer, I decided to research if outsourcing many of my company's contracts overseas, where salaries are much lower, could be a relevant solution to my problem. I sourced and compared many information technology outsourcing companies from various countries and, in the end, chose a small selection of companies from India to explore further for potential partnerships. (1.1--1.11)

While writing the business plan, just out of interest's sake, I searched out and found copies of my college's past business plans to see how 'real' ones are written. A noticeable difference was in the SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis; they had left out the weakness and threats components to the SWOT analysis. I found this lack of thoroughness surprising, as our college has a competing community college nearby that is a potential competitor. This omission, deliberate or not, made me feel confident and gave me a sense of pride in that I was writing a very thorough business plan.

Upon completion of the business plan, not only had I written a business plan but had gained a lot of insight into the business and administrative functions in an educational institution. Now, I better understand their needs and their language of communication (budget lines, targets, visions...). The domain that management works within on a daily basis is more macro and mine as an education micro--completely different. They deal with large over-arching ideas and issues; whereas my focus is mainly on curriculum and student learning. While this may seem like a simple observation that anyone could have told me, it wasn't until I had to wear their shoes for a whole term that I gained true understanding of what their jobs really entail. This new-found understanding helps me to work better on a daily basis with management, as I now understand managements' needs; I am able to communicate more effectively with them to help them understand my needs and show them that I understand their needs. I no longer view the education system solely from the perspective of an educator, but now I am able to step back and see how our different roles reside within relationship to the whole. Education is no longer equivalent in my mind to teaching, but now I see education as a very complex system where we all work synergistically to bring forth learning. (6.2)

MathVids Strategic Business Plan.jpg Strategic Business Plan, 2010-2015


Related Competencies

1. Problem Solving, Analysis, & Decision Making
1.1 Recognize problems.
1.2 Define the aspects of problems.
1.3 Formulate questions.
1.4 Find and access information.
1.5 Evaluate the relevance of information for a given situation.
1.6 Compare alternatives.
1.7 Make reasoned arguments leading to rational solutions.
1.8 Justify these solutions.
1.9 Present them to others.
1.10 Recognize the wider implications of specific knowledge.
1.11 Adapt solutions to suit varied situations.

4. Communication & Interpersonal Skills
4.1 Write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose (e.g. assignments, essays, published documents, and theses).
4.2 Construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally, through a variety of techniques.

6. Management, Organization and Leadership
6.1 Analyze the current and future climate of the distance education and distance learning industry, and formulate strategies to respond to that climate.
6.2 Describe the business and administrative functions in distance education organizations and discuss how business decisions affect financial and non-financial work results.
6.3 Make recommendations regarding the selection of learning technologies and assure that these selections meet organizational needs.
6.4 Outline the relative costs of appropriate technology-based communications methods in distance education and assure that the organization is receiving a good return on investment.