Blended Learning, Domestic, Feature, Flipped Classrooms, Interview, K-12, Language Learning, Public, Required, Teachers, Technology, top, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Monday, August 27, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Interview: Rosetta Stone Inc. Expands Rapidly Into Education Space

The Rosetta Stone
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Christopher Chan via Compfight

Rosetta Stone Inc. is often seen as the 800-pound gorilla in language learning software. But that gorilla is lumbering to stay ahead of the pack as its stock price has lagged to around $12 a share, down from more than $30 a share in 2009. The Arlington, Va.,-based company has laid off workers in recent years. Meanwhile, the company is shifting beyond CD-rom sales at ubiquitous yellow kiosks in airports and malls to online language learning products. And it’s aiming more strongly at the $4 trillion global education market rather than sales to individuals. The company says it has sold to 15,000 blended K-12 programs and hundreds of universities in the US. It has a new TOTALe PRO platform - with live online language coaches, education games and mobile apps for smartphones - aimed for the K-12 market. Cathy Quenzer, senior director of education sales, spoke with WiredAcademic editor Paul Glader about Rosetta Stone’s goals in the education space. (The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.)

WA - What are some new things Rosetta Stone is doing in the education space?
CQ - …What’s different is how we protect students. They are in a safe environment… And how we support teachers and schools.

WA - What do you mean by safer environment? Were there problems with open gaming?
CQ - Yes. You can put out a call and say I want to play someone in these languages. We have narrowed the focus. In the k-12 environment, we have the solo plays… Our safety is our primary concern… We have a village environment where we create a small world and so adults are not able to get into that world.

WA - That’s a selling point to these schools?
CQ - In the school enviro, we can’t have any issues. It will always be school age students with school age students.

WA - Tell us more about what’s happening with your customers in k-12?
CQ - There’s a lot more public schools [buying Rosetta Stone]. Innovative schools are typically the biggest customers. We have been working with charter schools and innovative public schools for a long time. We also have a lot of very innovative private schools. Now, with the challenge of budgets, the private schools are looking for ways to be more competitive with each other and public schools. Public schools are looking for ways to take advantage of new technology to save money. Age wise, we have lots of elementary, middle and high schools. They all use it differently depending on the schools’ needs.

WA - What’s the most popular language you sell in k-12?
CQ - It is still English for English language learners. Then it is followed closely by Spanish. Third place is still French. But we are seeing huge increases in Chinese, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese… They are very much developing and globally-competitive languages. Those are languages that are really going to help students prepare for their life and global competitiveness. These days you are not just competing against people you go to school with in high school and college but all over the world.

WA - What does demand look like from colleges and universities?
CQ - I know in community colleges… there is a lot of English taught. In general, universities with TOEFL and other tests are making people come with better English skills… to participate more fully and get more out of English… We are much more focused on world languages in universities.

WA - Are you seeing impact from cutbacks in higher education?
CQ - I think there are a lot of things going on in higher education at the same time… When we look at the college environment, our numbers are significantly up with the number of students asking us to help them use digital tech when using languages. We’ve partnered with them to look at how can we work with universities and college so we can redesign courses… they’re looking at the top 30 or 50 general education courses that happen in the majority of four year universities. They’re looking at redesigning all those to take advantage of digital. More and more, they are trying to make sure their courses can be offered not just to their own students but on a wide plane using technology. There’s a lot going on in universities right now with digital education and online education. We’re tying into a lot of those systems, not because we are trying to force one thing or another. We want to offer our services to help them.

WA - Can you name a couple of key university customers?
CQ - Liberty University started using Rosetta Stone so they can offer language classes online. American Public University system is an online college that is also using us. We have hundreds of universities across the country using it in different ways.

WA - Are you seeing more competition from language-learning companies, particularly in Europe?
CQ - I focus in the US on K-12. In most cases here, we are focused much more on working with school districts and with independent or private schools on what their language learning needs are. We do see other products out there. As far as tech, we are really focused on our customers and what their needs are and what is going on in the market.

WA - What kind of changes are we seeing to your user interface?
CQ - There are a couple trends. Online delivery through the Internet is where we manage… they are logging onto any Internet-enabled computer. That’s making it easy to reduce their total cost of ownership. We are seeing more schools going online. Over time, it is less expensive than to run software. We are seeing it has to be regularly worked into the curriculum…. Some schools still take students to computer labs. Others use the classroom. We actually see a big trend where it used to be 4 to 1 - students to computers. Now, we are seeing bigger trends of one to one. We are seeing major movement in making sure each student has access to a computer or tablet all the time. That’s another huge trend in k-12 education. You are seeing a lot of tablets being used.

WA - Can you point to any particular schools or districts you find most innovative?
CQ - Often it is the vision of a school superintendent to bring language to all students. I would point you to a couple customers. Lee County in North Carolina, which has 9,000 or 10,000 students. It’s not a big district. But they are looking at how students learn languages during all 12 years. They are one to one an hour a week - three times each week for 20 mins each session. They have a tablet PC for each student in middle school for a half hour each day. New Albany, Indiana, is using Rosetta Stone in all grade levels. They have one to one computer use. There are schools all over New Jersey using Rosetta Stone…. In almost every state, there is a great school I can point you to.

WA - Is America catching on to the idea that students should learn more languages to function in a global world? Do your customers believe that?
CQ - It varies state by state and district by district. It doesn’t look like it. It looks like fewer and fewer schools are teaching languages. We see a bigger push for students taking an AP exam before college. You see lots of AP exams taken in Spanish but not Chinese. What’s the difference there? How do we give students more ramp? We are seeing more and more  [school leaders] who are ensuring students’ global competitiveness in a language other than English. As a general trend, there was a trend downward for languages in middle and elementary school in the last 10 years.

WA - What creates the best scenario for teaching language using digital products?
CQ - In the US, in k-12, we are most often used in conjunction with the teacher. Where we are most successful is when a teacher flips or inverts the classroom. For example, a student uses Rosetta Stone to learn the language. Then a teacher comes to class and offers more tutoring and instruction and exercises…. Our focus is on changing the way people learn language to make it easier. There are lots of surveys out there that show most people don’t believe the language they took in high school or college stayed with them…. We use a method that really matches how you learned your original language. We put you in an environment where you are constantly able to use what you know and learn more.

WA - So, in the past, Rosetta Stone sold CD kits at airports from kiosks. Are your products shifting online?
CQ - I think it will be online, definitely as we move forward. Then it will be wherever [mobile] ather than installing it here or there. As the world becomes a more mobile place, I think that is critical. We do have mobile companion where you can learn some of the aspects, different things you can do on an iPhone or Android device. The real power of the courseware is iPad, tablet or Internet-ready computer.

WA - What’s your next strategy for growth in the education space?
CQ - … Learning language isn’t a chore. But it needs to be a regular part of your life. It needs to be a regular part of your day, week and semester. With technology, different schools and districts have developed different approaches to technology… It’s about making sure teachers are making time to get teachers on the program and wrapping it into how they work. There is so much in a teacher’s classroom today that they are responsible for.

Leave a Reply


Campus Buzz

We welcome Tips & Pitches

Latest WA Original Features

  • Twitter feed loading

APEI35.98  chart-0.05  chart -0.14%
APOL20.25  chart-0.52  chart -2.50%
AAPL520.168  chart+0.838  chart +0.16%
BPI10.39  chart-0.15  chart -1.42%
CAST0.09  chart-0.01  chart -10.00%
CECO3.27  chart-0.06  chart -1.80%
COCO2.51  chart-0.02  chart -0.79%
CPLA28.07  chart-0.58  chart -2.02%
DV23.26  chart-0.47  chart -1.98%
EDMC4.85  chart-0.15  chart -3.00%
ESI17.06  chart-0.21  chart -1.22%
GOOG709.50  chart-6.13  chart -0.86%
LINC5.68  chart-0.16  chart -2.74%
LOPE23.62  chart-0.01  chart -0.04%
PEDH0.17  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
PSO19.41  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
SABA8.45  chart+0.07  chart +0.84%
SCHL28.95  chart+0.29  chart +1.01%
STRA57.66  chart+0.82  chart +1.44%
WPO360.76  chart-0.75  chart -0.21%
2012-12-24 13:00

Blended Learning, Domestic, For-Profit, Graduate, Personalized Learning, Required, Universities & Colleges - Dec 25, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Infographic: A Graphical Profile Of Today’s Online College Student

More In For-Profit

Domestic, Ethics, K-12, Opinion, Parents, Regulatory, Required, Technology - Dec 25, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Anne Collier: Parenting In 2013 & What Net Privacy’s Got To Do With It

More In Technology

Cost of Education, Domestic, For-Profit, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, Graduation Rates, Infographics, Recruitment, Required, Universities & Colleges - Dec 18, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Infographic: A Comparison Of For-Profits v. Non-Profit Online College Data

More In Friend, Fraud, or Fishy