Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Centra takes e-learning offering to China

Published in Interface Tech News

LEXINGTON, Mass. ‹ E-learning software firm Centra has signed a deal with New Modern Technology (NMT), based in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, under which NMT will be Centra's distributor in China.

Centra has worked with a Japanese distributor for its eLearning framework for two years, and has several customers in that country.

In the past year, the company has expanded to serve Australia, Singapore, and India, adding Taiwan, China, and Korea in the past six months, according to Chris Reed, the company's vice president of corporate strategy.

"You really have to start in Japan," Reed said. Expansion to Australia, Singapore, and India often follow, he said.

With the new partnership, NMT will undertake the Chinese localization and marketing of Centra's software, which permits live interaction with an instructor via the Internet using video cameras, voice over IP, electronic whiteboards, and other tools.

Reed said the early adopters of this type of training platform are multi-national corporations, who are frustrated by delays between product launches in the U.S. and training for Asian offices, which often occur several months later.

Reed described Centra's platform as a "control panel around a content window," which allows multiple teaching tools to be used as part of a training session. Reed said this offers value and depth of understanding.

"The most effective learning experiences are a combination of these learning methods," he said.

Market research agrees. In August 2000, Forrester Research published a report entitled "Online Training Needs A New Course." The report indicated not only that lack of interactivity was the key obstacle to online learning, but that trainee resistance is the next largest problem.

Reed said Centra gets around these problems by offering lots of interactivity and with a simple analogy: "a class over the Internet."

Reed said people already have a sense of what a class entails and what it should be like. Centra's software, he said, gives them this without forcing companies to fly trainers all over the world, exhausting the people and the training budget.

With a distributor in China, Reed said, the company has an agent committed to a couple of years of market building, leaving Centra itself to continue working on its software and on other expansions.