Link-Systems International, Inc. (LSI), ground-breaking provider of online education technologies and services, marks its fifteenth year anniversary on Sunday, February 27, 2011. LSI is well-known in the academic community for its NetTutor® online tutoring service, the WorldWideWhiteboard® conferencing and collaboration interface, and digital multimedia curriculum authoring and conversion services. Since the beginning of the year, LSI has signed contracts to provide educational services and software for over half a dozen new schools, publishers, and corporations.
LSI was incorporated in the state of Florida on February 27, 1996. Vincent Forese, longtime business developer in computer education applications, was hired as CEO and President in 1998, a post he currently holds. Forese, speaking at LSI’s 10,000-square foot headquarters just west of the Tampa International Airport, said, “This company began with a small group of individuals who had the vision to develop software to convert what was then [in 1995] largely individual user-based educational software into an online, on-demand communication tool based on the possibilities opened up by the internet and the Web. Today, while the rest of the economy is slowly finding its way to recovery, we are flourishing – hiring more tutors and content authors than ever before.”
William K. Barter, LSI’s Senior Vice President for Sales, Marketing and Business Development, attributes the success of LSI developing technology tailored to the needs of education to “a dynamic relationship between a highly talented development team and the company’s growing client base in the educational world. We were the first to partner with textbook publishers to deliver live, one-on-one tutoring to students in math, science, and accounting courses with the purchase of a textbook. Instructors wanted online homework as well, and we are proud that our WorldWideTestbank content authoring tool developed out of this relationship.”
Barter added, “It is from practicing educators, struggling to harness the power of the Web for struggling learners, that we have learned the most. They asked for a tool specifically designed to make online interactive teaching and online office hours possible; we equipped them with the WorldWideWhiteboard dashboard of asynchronous and synchronous communication tools – all of them subject-specific.
“We are proud also to have found ways to customize all of our offerings to the educational environments in which they are deployed.” Forese said that the world of education has fundamentally changed over the fifteen years LSI has been in business. Speaking of the pioneering role of the firm, he recalled a time when administrators wondered whether their students actually used computers. He pointed out that LSI learned from this early experience to host all of its software on its own servers, to provide tools which – up to now – demand the least bandwidth and which require no additional software downloads by learners. “Of course, today’s learner typically has access to computers, ” Forese observed. “More than that: in the past five years, the portion of students who take online courses has risen from one out of six to one out of four. And by providing cutting-edge tools to promote retention and achievement, we remain at the forefront of this ongoing revolution in education. In fact, revenues at LSI have doubled in the same five year period.”
LSI monitors the needs of educators and learners who work with online media, welcoming contributions from academics on its product-related Boards of Advisors. Forese said, “Research has now been published proving the effectiveness of the NetTutor online tutoring service (nettutor.com), especially in mathematics. But it is equally effective in English. Every day we hear words of praise for the writing and composition support of our online Paper Center from students and faculty – K-12, higher education, and even training programs for learners who have been out of school for a while.”
In the past year, LSI has launched two new products:
• MyAcademicWorkshop™ offers not only content for the independent study and practice of course-related material, but also a grade book system complete with notification options which alert instructors to difficulties of the individual learners.
• Information Visibility Service™ (IVS) helps schools deal with the wealth of data and databases which record the progress of an educational institution. Collating data from every source, IVS provides campus leaders a coherent, real-time picture of what is going on.
Forese pointed out, however, that development is a continuous process for LSI. “We have made updates to NetTutor and the WorldWideWhiteboard every two or three years over the life of the company. As we speak, we have in preparation a massive upgrade of the system which we are beginning to test and deploy, involving substitution of HTML 5.0 for Java. Clients who sign up today quickly realize that we are dedicated to providing robust, cutting edge online education tools.”
LSI has a full-time staff of 108, employs and trains all of its tutors and content authors on site at the Tampa headquarters, and has a growing sales team that reaches customers around the world. Among its long-standing customers are text-book publishers, public universities, community colleges, for-profit universities, virtual high-schools and K-12 publishers, and training programs sponsored by both corporations and the organized labor movement. As Barter put it, “This is our fifteen-year anniversary, and we are aggressively planning for our next fifteen years serving the online needs of learners, educators, and administrators.”
Link-Systems International, Incorporated (link-systems.com) is a privately held, technology services and content development company that has been dedicated to student success and student retention in K-12 Education, Higher Education, and Workforce Development Education since 1995.
Our core technologies include a flexible online tutoring/teaching platform, an online grade book, an online algorithm engine with metadata and workflow capabilities, and an online business intelligence/data mining technology designed to provide real-time alerts regarding student/school/teacher performance, student attendance, and other metrics.
Our core services include content development, consulting, and online tutoring through our NetTutor® brand.
Our partners and customers have come to value and trust LSI because we are the only company that offers a complete suite of interoperable solutions that address the entire life cycle of the student, with an overt focus on the bottom line: student success and student retention. That student life cycle includes:
• Online Assessment and Placement
• Content Authoring
• Content Recovery, Content Management and Metadata Management
• Online Teaching, Collaboration, and Tutoring
• Online Homework and Testing
• Online Grade book Technologies
• Online Real-Time Performance Monitoring and Intervention.
Through a relationship with LSI, educators and those who serve them acquire the ability to construct a complete, holistic approach to student success and student retention.