IUPUI professor and serial entrepreneur Ali Jafari thinks his latest startup could hit it big. Maybe even Facebook big. CourseNetworking, or CN, is the fourth software company created by Jafari in his IUPUI Cyber Lab. It combines traditional education learning software with the power of social media networks. "We basically know that the most popular software being used in the universities is not information technology software," said Jafari. "It’s social networking software… it’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram."
Jafari, has high hopes for his latest invention, which he says has the potential to "change the way the world learns," and could scale to the size of Facebook.
Recognized as the father of Learning Management Systems, Jafari knows something about commercializing innovative ideas. In 2009, one of his companies, ANGEL Learning, sold to Blackboard Inc. for a cool $100 million.
Jafari’s research on next generation e-learning technology and the commercialization of that innovation are a byproduct of the IUPUI CyberLab, which was created as part of his recruitment to the school in the mid-90’s.
Jafari says his message to then IUPUI Dean of the Faculties Bill Plater was "give me a 50 percent teaching load and I’ll use my other 50 percent to do research and develop new information technology systems."
The result has been a model for innovation, learning and commercialization in an academic setting, which includes support, financial and otherwise, from Indiana University.
"Basically, I bring the best of students into the CyberLab and we envision, invent and develop new information technology," said Jafari, who is also is also a professor in Computer and Information Technology at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology.
CN is already being marketed in southeast Asia, through an office in Kuala Lumpur, and Jafari expects to commercialize CN in North America and other parts of the world in this year.