|Alma mater||Cornell University|
|Organization||Gilfus Education Group|
|Known for||Co-founder of Blackboard Inc.|
Stephen Gilfus is an American businessman and entrepreneur. He is a founder of Blackboard Inc. and CourseInfo LLC, where he held positions from 1997 to 2007. In July of 2007, Gilfus founded the Gilfus Education Group, a strategic consulting firm focused on education innovation for academic institutions, education businesses and industry investors.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early career
- 3 CourseInfo
- 4 Blackboard
- 5 Gilfus Education Group
- 6 Investments
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Presentations
- 9 Industry References
- 10 References
- 11 External links
- 12 See also
Stephen Gilfus grew up in Pittsford, New York. He developed an interest in computers at age 8 when he received a Commodore_VIC-20 computer as a holiday present. His first computer program was that of a computer game recorded on the systems stored tape drive, a Commodore Datasette. Shortly after, he began attending Apple_Inc. Homebrew_Computer_Clubs with his father during the days of Verbatim and Elephant floppy discs, Elephant Memory Systems. Other computer systems that he enjoyed during this period included, the first Pong, Atari, and Nintendo systems.
Fascinated by computer capabilities he remained interested in computers and gaming systems during his high school years at Pittsford Mendon High School, sharing computer games and working through various programs on early Apple II and Macintosh computers. In college he shared an IBM PC 486 DX2 66 with his brother.
Gilfus attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and graduated 1997 as an academic scholar with a Bachelors of Science degree from the undergraduate business program within the Cornell University Department of Applied Economics and Management
While at Cornell, Gilfus focused on the development of new businesses through his studies as a part of a burgeoning new series of studies within Cornell's Entrepreneurship Personal Enterprise program. In this capacity he was a TA for a business planning class of 90 students, mentoring students on the development of new business ideas and approaches. His mentor, Professor Deborah Streeter gave him guidance and support in launching a new student club, the Cornell Entrepreneur Organization (CEO), focused on bringing together students from business and engineering in support of new business ideas.
In 1997, Gilfus met Daniel Cane while he was a teacher's administrator for Cornell's entrepreneurship studies assisting Professor Deborah Streeter with her business plan writing classes. That year Cane won an award for a business plan call "EleFun" based on an educational website business model. Earlier that year Gilfus had also won an award from Cornell for his work in his business planning and consulting class. Cane approached Gilfus based on his successes at Cornell and the two joined forces to develop CourseInfo - 'Making Education Easier'" into a platform for course based websites.
The CourseInfo History is robust in its roots at Cornell University and its involvement in Cornell's entrepreneurship program. A link to an article on the companies Cornell University roots can be found here at http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/97/10.16.97/Web_company.html Located in the Student Agencies building some of Gilfus's close Cornell friends where the initial developers of the calendaring capabilities of Microsoft Hotmail.
CourseInfo LLC was a small e-learning company focused on the development of an innovative course management system. As a founder of CourseInfo Gilfus directed the business's initial vision, writing the company's first business plan and developing its foundational sales and marketing strategy. - The Scientist : UCLA Taking A Leading Role In Mandating ... "It's a Web course-management tool," explains Stephen Gilfus, "The entire structure is set up to provide areas...
CourseInfo released several product versions including the "Teachers Toolbox"and its foundational first release the Interactive Learning Network v.1
- Early 1997 after the founding of CourseInfo the "Teachers Toolbox" was born and included a series of named "Generator" tools including the coursesite generator, announcement generator, quiz generator, survey generator and other tools. Version 1.0 is released. As a primary designer and inventor of the platform Gilfus drove the overall feature and function set, and web design of the product.
- Gilfus led sales and marketing and product management efforts to build awareness for the company. Much of the company's initial communication was on educational listservs and web boards.
- Mid 1997 the "Interactive Learning Network" ILN 1.5, was released and installed at several academic institutions including Cornell University, Yale Medical School and University of Pittsburgh. The ILN was the first e-learning system of its kind to leverage and install on top of a relational database MySqL. Access control was added to provide security around course content. Guest access was provided for course shopping. http://www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env/aera/aera-lists/aera-c/97-11/0123.html
- 1998 The CourseInfo product line (then the Interactive Learning Network or ILN) became the foundation for Blackboard's e-learning product line as Blackboard's CourseInfo.
- 11/02/98 - Release Of CourseInfo 2.0
- 07/26/99 - Release of CourseInfo 3.0 
- 10/26/99 - Release of CourseInfo 4.0
- 01/19/00 - Release of CourseInfo Enterprise Edition
In 1998, CourseInfoLlc., founded by Daniel Cane and Stephen Gilfus, and Blackboard LLC, founded by Michael Chasen and Matthew Pittinsky merged to form Blackboard Inc. CourseInfo technology became the core technology to the Blackboard platform for future generations to come, and the original business plan became the model that Blackboard adopted. The first e-learning product as Blackboard Inc. was branded Blackboard CourseInfo, but the CourseInfo brand was dropped in 2000. Gilfus was one of the primary designers and inventors of the CourseInfo and Blackboard Learning System products as head of corporate and product strategy for the company.
As the company expanded its market and business relationships Stephen along with Matthew Pittinsky (both company co-founders) jointly wrote a Blackboard Product Strategy & Vision White Paper on Building Blocks (B2) Initiative outlining the launch of a "Building Blocks Initiative" introducing new thought concepts to extend the Blackboard Platform and allowing for greater extensibility of the technology as an open platform for allowing for technology extensions. In 2001 the company (Blackboard Inc.) began to explore "mobile learning" initiatives and Stephen joined a Mobile Steering Committee established and led by the President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Ryerson to answer the question "What can “ anytime, anywhere” access to learning material contribute to the education experience?"
Further to Blackboard's development path Stephen led the companies initiatives to introduce new learning standards as the Head of Corporate and Product Strategy collaborating with NDU, the National Defense University, and the ADL Co-Labs to design, implement and deploy a free Blackboard SCORM 1.2 through Blackboard Building Blocks. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Repository Model) is a specification of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, which comes out of the Office of the United States Secretary of Defense.
During this time, around 2004, still with Blackboard, Stephen began to assemble data from the experiences of thousands of Blackboard customers and authored the "Educational Technology Framework", a model used to contemplate organizational, technological, and social impact of educational technologies on academic institutions – sometimes referred to as “The Gilfus Model of Educational Technology Adoption”. The model was updated in 2010.
From 2004 to mid-2008, Gilfus was head of Blackboard's Education Consulting Practice where he led a team of professionals focused on providing strategic consulting services and implementation services for the Blackboard Platform. Serving over 2200 academic institutions in integrating into PeopleSoft, Datatel, SunGard and other SIS applications as well as creating custom applications.
Gilfus was one of the key strategists behind Fairfax County Public Schools launch of the Blackboard platform for Fairfax 24/7 Learning. He also led a core team of individuals that designed and implemented Pearson's Course Compass, a private-label version of Blackboard for Pearson Education.
Gilfus worked cross-organizationally within Blackboard, holding key leadership positions throughout the company in Marketing and Sales, Product Management/Development, Strategic Development, Global Services, and the Office of the CEO. Gilfus is known as an expert facilitator and change agent. His final role at Blackboard was to provide strategic counsel to the individual Presidents of each of Blackboard's industry divisions.
- 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 - "Blackboard Building Blocks" 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.)
- Gilfus, Stephen et al. (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)
- Gilfus, Stephen et al. (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".
- Ellis, Cathy (2004-04-23) "Benchmarking Blackboard– From Champions To Transformers". BbMatters. (An independent article on the Educational Technology Framework.)
On April 25, 2000, the Blackboard Learning System, was inducted into the archives for inclusion in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History's IT Innovation Collection - received ComputerWorld Smithsonian Award for its leadership in using information technology to improve society.
On July 2011 Blackboard was purchased for $1.6 Billion by Providence Equity Partners.
Gilfus Education Group
In February 2009, Gilfus left Blackboard to found the Gilfus Education Group, an independent and non-biased strategic education consulting and management company based in Washington, D.C.
The Gilfus Education Group was formed based on a vision to provide "Education Innovation" to education institutions, education companies and critical insights and due diligence to education industry investors. In this capacity the company has been an innovator for hundreds of leading organizations within the education industry acting as a change agent for transformation and increased organizational performance.
- Gilfus, Stephen et al.(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 et al. (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.)
- Gilfus, Stephen (2009-10-27) Gilfus Education Group, Predicts Top Five Education Innovation Trends Gilfus Education Group
- Gilfus, Stephen (2010-12-20) "Educational Technology Framework 2010". Blackboard Inc. - Stephen Gilfus (Updated Educational Technology Adoption for 2010, for educational technology adoption.)
- Gilfus, Stephen et al. (2010-12-10) "Promise of Community Changes Technology Paradigms". Gilfus Education Group (The changing paradigm of Learning Management Systems and web 2.0 social networking technology.)
Gilfus is an active angel investor. He has advised dozens of industry investors providing company, technology and market due diligence for LBO's, strategic investments, acquisitions and fund investments within global education markets.
- Gilfus, Stephen Cornell eClips Presentation Matthew Pittinsky Provides Introduction to Dan Cane, Steve Gilfus and Lecture on Company, Blackboard
- Gilfus, Stephen Cornell Class Presentation describing the founding of Blackboard View the Cornell University Presentation transcript
- Stephen Gilfus, Blackboard Founder, Discusses Academic and Professional Background at Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration 2009
- FORBES and Gilfus on Archipelago, Why Is Archipelago Outpacing All Other Education Stocks?
- Campus Technology, 5 Higher Ed Tech Trends for 2012 from the Gilfus Education Group and Karen Cator of the Department of Education.
- The Journal, 5 K-12 Ed Tech Trends for 2012
- "Benchmarking Blackboard– From Champions To Transformers"
- "Educational Technology Framework"
- "Pearson's Course Compass"
- "Gilfus Education Group"