The WebStudy Story: Products developed by educators for educators
As a graduate student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania in the 1990s, Daniel Franc was fascinated by a sociology professor unwilling to settle for the limitations of classroom software. That professor, Douglas McConatha, Ph.D., thought technology could do so much more—stretch the limitations of classroom lectures and enhance students’ ability to think about a topic. Franc was inspired to create this technology. One day, as he scribbled away in his notebook during a lecture, he came up with the original intuitive design for WebStudy Learning software.
Together, Franc and McConatha developed features and functionality for the software based on a solid understanding of how students, faculty and administrators operate. They knew that the most sophisticated technology was of no value if people were unable to use it. For this reason, they didn’t want to make a system that took too much time to use or update. Plus, they wanted to move beyond a simple package of course materials to a dynamic, interactive learning environment. The class began using the software on a trial basis and students loved its functionality.
The Perfect Storm
In 1996, McConatha introduced the new software to Joseph Curt Corbi and Gisele Larose, who took a keen interest. Corbi and Larose brought a combined 50 years of experience in education, corporate training and software manufacturing to the table. WebStudy, Inc. took shape in this “perfect storm” of enterprising talent, technological know-how, and passion for education.
Corbi was influenced by parents who were educators, and the company has always put the needs of educators first. They began looking to administrators, faculty, students, and thought leaders to influence the development of their products and services. Corbi also brought 40+ years of IT experience to the table, resulting in the fully hosted approach for which WebStudy Learning is known.
The R&D Arm of a Technology Consortium
WebStudy, Inc. launched the commercial use of the software with a group of charter customers in the mid-Atlantic states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. These customers were part of an Educational Technology Consortium that aimed to improve distance learning in the area through the local National Public Radio station (WHYY). They distributed “telecourses,” from well-known providers such as Dallas TeleLearning or Coast Learning Systems. WHYY would broadcast them in the middle of the night, then the schools would tape the broadcast and disseminate a booklet with the tape for distance education.
Around Y2K, when the charter schools recognized that the utilization of this delivery was declining and being replaced by online courses, WebStudy met Bill Weber at WHYY and acted as the R&D arm of the consortium until 2006, when it became a fully independent company.
As WebStudy signed on charter customers as clients, their “keep it simple” approach was key in adoption of the flexible system, along with their affordable pricing and easy migration to campuses. They found that the WebStudy online education package even worked for faculty members who were slow to recognize the value of technology.
An International Team
WebStudy principals Larose and Corbi today head an international team of associates with successful track records in information technology, product management, software development, training, marketing, web design, and higher education.