Newton Interactive

E-Learning’s Potential

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the

March 28, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

EduNeering’s E-Learning Plum

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s if you are training

workers for the pharmaceutical business, because if any industry is

more regulated than Wall Street, it is drug manufacturing. And you

had better put your pharmaceutical training online, because most of

the big pharmas will soon turn to E-training as a thrifty and


solution to their training needs.

Think about just what E-learning contract would take the prize in

the pharmaceutical arena. How about selling to the government agency

that writes the regulations for all the pharmas? To do the online

training and testing for the Food and Drug Administration — that

would be the plum.

EduNeering Inc. has that contract. Founded by Robert Delamontagne,

this business started in Princeton, moved to Pennsylvania, and now

has come back to Princeton, having just moved into University Square,

on Campus Drive opposite the Hyatt. Though it started as an


technology company, EduNeering wrote the first computer training


for the energy industry. Then it entered the pharma arena, and now

it has that fabulous deal to end all fabulous deals — to be the

single source for training and testing at the Food and Drug


In addition to its library of 50 courses dedicated for FDA regulatory

compliance, EduNeering has a total of 250 courses, including those

for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the


Protection Agency, and the Department of Transportation.

In its move to Princeton, EduNeering returned to a hotbed for online

training and testing. The 500-pound gorilla in this field, Educational

Testing Service, has spawned its own for-profit division (the Chauncey

Group ( at the Rosedale Road campus), and ETS

alumni have started their own successful firms, like Knapp &


International (KAI,, a testing and


certification company at Montgomery Commons. A major player in


learning, Princeton Learning Systems, was founded here and sold to

eMind ( And Newton Interactive, which does several

forms of web-based training for pharmaceuticals, is tripling its space

on Pennington Road (see story, page 44).

These companies are no virtual universities, where


can choose to learn soft subjects. They offer online compliance


or certification testing that workers need to keep their jobs.

"The theme of our company is regulatory compliance training,"

says Delamontagne. "We have vertical markets in life sciences

and food, energy, healthcare, industrial, and we plan to enter the

financial market this year. We are building a worldclass data center

that offers `no points of failure’ operation." He expects


growth. "We have good investors, a good strategy, and are


well in the market."

The long answer to how EduNeering got the FDA plum involves three

buyout moves. John Eichert of Hastings Healthcare Group took a


interest in Delamontagne’s business and moved the firm from Research

Park to Pennington. When HHG was sold, another group of investors

moved it to Newtown, Pennsylvania, and installed its own CEO. Then

a third group of investors bought the company, put Delamontagne back

at the top, and he moved it to Campus Drive, where it has 40 workers

now, plus 34 in Houston, and another 20 in the sales force.

The short answer is Janice McFarland, executive vice president.


had been head of marketing of prescription products for Sandoz, and

one of the first women to have that kind of job for a large pharma.

When Sandoz merged with Ciba-Geigy to form Novartis, Eichert hired

her to write the business plan that would launch EduNeering’s pharma

business. She was working just part time then. Three days a week,

she pursued the FDA. She structured a deal that the FDA, literally,

could not refuse.

With a handshake at FDA headquarters, Delamontagne and McFarland


an amazing deal: the FDA gets all its training and certification


for no cost — zilch. But in return EduNeering gets to sell these

same training and certification programs to the drug and food


that need their workers to pass the tests.

It’s one of those "why didn’t someone think of it before?"

ideas, and the reason it hasn’t been done before is that the Internet

was what made it possible. On the Internet, the incremental cost for

administering and tracking each course and each test is very small.

"Our partnership with the FDA brings the first learning technology

that the FDA had," says McFarland. "We are creating training

for all the FDA sectors, and the FDA is utilizing our client


In return, we can market these courses to any FDA-regulated industry.

These companies can now access the same courses that the FDA is using

to train on. It is exciting and hopefully will improve compliance

across the board."

"We really don’t know of any competitor that has courses


targeted to FDA compliance," she says. "Clearly we are the

only company provided with content by FDA. We are positioned to be

the leader in client solutions for life sciences and food


Among EduNeering’s more than two dozen current customers are Baxter,

Aventis, and Johnson & Johnson.

EduNeering’s FDA courses are for anyone who handles a product. The

student logs on, sees his "to do" list assigned by his


and takes a test. "There are a variety of learning activities

and 10 different ways of testing, depending on how the information

has to be recalled — true/false, crossword, matching, arranging

the correct order procedures — to assure that at the end they

have mastered the concepts," she says. Test questions are


and then there is a final challenge.

This method supposedly reduces training time by 60 percent. One course

costs from $20,000 to $35,000 to develop. They are not sold to


only to corporations, which pay from $150 to $200 per person per year

for unlimited use of the library. New hires may have to take a handful

of courses, but some people take 50 per year.

This library is designed to address compliance needs of a multilevel

organization — with an entire factory line or a specialized


such as validation. For instance, the FDA is enforcing a new


called Part 11 compliance, for electronic records and electronic


Next month EduNeering plans to launch its "Tour of the FDA"

on the FDA website, so that consumers, employees of a regulated


or new hires of the FDA can take a 30 to 40-minute introductory class.

"Our courses are highly interactive, and we use state of the art

tools," McFarland says, "but we are mindful that these courses

must run on the Internet, so they are not so technologically rich

that the customers can’t access them."

Until generous bandwidth is universal to provide a rich multimedia

environment, says Steven Haase, general continuing education will

not flourish. Haase is the former co-owner of Princeton Learning


(now eMind). In the meantime, workers need the compliance training

to keep their jobs. Often they take the courses at home or in the

field without good bandwidth connections. "For compliance


the primary interest is to get the information delivered and logged

in in a format to deliver to regulatory agencies," says Haase.

Many of the EduNeering’s advanced tools come from KnowledgeWire, a

Houston-based company that merged with EduNeering. Also in Houston,

EduNeering plans to open a secure data center for all the regulatory

records. Both here and in Texas, EduNeering is hiring programmers,

artists, client service personnel, software engineers, instructional

designers, marketers, and general business administrators.

"I’m delighted to be back in Princeton," says McFarland.


near Wayne in Wanaque, New Jersey, she was the daughter of a barber

and a housewife, and was first in her family to go to college. She

majored in sociology and math at Montclair State and was a probation

officer for seven years. "I really didn’t see a future there,

and I was always interested in travel," she says, "but my

travel was limited to northern or southern Passaic county."

Tests showed that she would be good in marketing and sales, so she

took a paycut to join Sandoz as a detailer or salesperson. "If

my parents thought I was crazy to join the probation department they

thought I was crazy to leave the probation department," she


From law enforcement to pharmaceuticals, she went from one


environment to another. "But my mother had instilled a confidence

in me that I could achieve anything. She is a very positive person

— that rubbed off on me. I really feel I was given a terrific

opportunity at Sandoz." At Sandoz, she also met her future


now a consultant on managed care strategy, and they live in Skillman.

In 1996, after the merger, she began consulting for EduNeering.


thing I knew was working three days a week. Two years ago I joined

the company full time. Very early on I realized that it was critical

that this company provide the highest quality content available on

FDA regulations. It made sense that the best possible supplier of

content would be the FDA directly."

"EduNeering had foresight in bringing someone in from a senior

position," she says. "In the dot com world you don’t find

many people with the background I have."

"Because of her insight and experience in that market, she had

the right judgment that the association with the FDA could be


beneficial to the company," says Delamontagne. "I did not

have the depth of intimate knowledge that she had."

With her experience, she knew how to be patient. First she met an

FDA regional director at a trade show, who discussed the FDA’s


needs and referred her to someone in Rockville, Maryland, the FDA’s

home base. Under a tight budget and on a timely schedule, the FDA

has to train more than 1,000 investigators and thousands of state


"They weren’t jumping up and down about our idea. I just persisted

until I found someone who was interested in seeing what we offer,"

says McFarland. "We provide the training at no cost. In return,

we are able to market our courses to industry. It is a very strategic


Bob Delamontagne once won a contract because he seemed

to be the bidder who cared the least about whether he won the bid.

For a man who has started his own business, he has a remarkably


attitude about who is in charge.

The son of a construction laborer, he grew up in Burgettstown,


a coal mining town near Pittsburgh. Even though his parents tended

to be cautious and had limits on to what they could do in their own

lives, they were not restrictive in their children’s growing up years.

"They gave me great freedom to do whatever I wanted," he


"to go fishing, play basketball, or explore."

He majored in English at California State in Pennsylvania, and worked

for RCA doing staffing for a secret underwater test base in the


and traveling most of the time. At RCA he met his future wife, Shelly,

and enrolled at Georgia State for a master’s degree in education and

a PhD in psychology and organizational development. Apple II came

out in 1975, just after he earned his PhD, and Delamontagne determined

he would combine learning theory and instructional design with


During his two years of clinical residency Delamontagne says he


his past very carefully. "I remember making conscious choices

on how I would live my life, some rooted in the past, some not."

Sensitized to the role of child development, he set his sights on

eventually having his own business in order to be at home during his

children’s grade school years.

He was recruited to run the organizational and management development

consulting practice at a compensation firm, then called Sibson & Co.

(now William M. Mercer), at the Carnegie Center. He and Sherry used

their savings to create EduNeering, to do online training in the


field. First they had an office in their home on Elm Ridge Drive with

a Princeton post office box, then an office on Nassau Street, and

then moved back to their home so they could be there when their two

daughters came home from school. (One grown daughter has a master’s

in special education and is teaching in London, and the other works

for the SPCA in Denver.) Later Delamontagne opened an office at


Park, followed by the move to Pennington to join Hastings Healthcare


Delamontagne is convinced that compliance training is the place to

be. "It is so critical, that if a business cannot produce training

records, it could be vulnerable for thousands of dollars in


he says.

He gives a real life example: An employee of a major energy company

was working in a confined space, failed to obey the rules, and lost

consciousness. Another worker grabbed the wrong respirator and entered

the space to save him and also went down. A third person found them

there, and the second person died.

"The National Transportation and Safety Board came roaring into

town, asking for evidence that employees were trained to work in this

space." The test questions had been automatically recorded and

stored at the time of the test. Before, results were forwarded to

a person who had to enter the data, perhaps correctly, perhaps not.

"We were able to provide the actual questions that each employee

answered correctly, indicating they knew how to enter the area,"

says Delamontagne. "The company avoided a substantial fine."

Twice, Delamontagne has given up control, and now he has it back.

"I saw the company required more capital, and when I presented

the case to the venture capitalists, they said, `We don’t want to

invest in it, we want to own it, if you will come back as CEO’."

John Cozzi at Arena Capital was the first investor, and he brought

in Galen Partners, both based in New York City.

Delamontagne reads quantum physics and Buddhist philosophy, which

he considers two sides of the same coin. Quantum physics challenges

assumptions about how the world works and says that nothing exists

until it is observed, and Buddhism addresses the idea of consciousness

"on a very profound level," he says. Both have implications

for training methods, because a trainer is trying to gain attention

and impact consciousness in a way that changes behavior.

By coincidence, EduNeering is living literally on the same site where

it started out. Twenty years ago, EduNeering’s address was a box in

the Princeton Post Office on Alexander Road. The post office moved

to Roszel Road, and University Square was built on what has been named

Campus Drive. "In 1980 when I started EduNeering in our home,

I realized it was so important to have a Princeton address," says

Delamontagne. "Talk about a circuitous route, It’s been an



EduNeering Inc., 100 Campus Drive, Suite 100,


08540. Robert P. Delamontagne, president. 609-627-5300; fax,


Top Of Page
Newton Interactive

Nobody knows better than Debra Newton that the time

is ripe for pharmaceutical companies to move to the Internet.


months ago," says the CEO of Newton Interactive on Pennington

Road, "clients were still asking for CD-ROM solutions. But we

talk to them about versatility in delivery and ease of updating


based on changing market needs, and instant access to data and


And 80 percent of our clients are in the technology transition phase,

moving from CD-ROM training to web plus CD-ROM or straight onto the


Founded in 1991, her company has digital solutions for both marketing

and training and has 50 employees including eight instructional


on staff. It is tripling its space and expanding from 4,000 to 12,000

square feet. Newton is one of the presenters at a pharmaceutical


conference on June 11 and 12 at the Princeton Marriott sponsored by

the Institute for International Research (888-670-8200).

"She got involved with the Internet at the right time and has

been able to mold her business as the market needs have changed,"

says John Eichert, former CEO of Hastings Healthcare Group and former

majority owner of EduNeering.

An often overlooked advantage to web-based training, says Newton,

is that you get to know immediately how your user is doing without

waiting for the tests to be scored. Such solutions can be cost


for a large company on a large scale, she insists. "We do a needs

analysis and an assessment — how to apply the information learned,

and we do ongoing testing, part of the modular approach to


— Barbara Fox

Newton Interactive, 2425 Pennington Road,


08534. Debra Newton, president. 609-818-0025; fax, 609-818-0045.



Top Of Page
E-Learning’s Potential

This is the moment, the year 2001, in which there will

be a significant increase in the percentage of courses delivered via

E-learning and the beginning of a decrease in the percentage of


delivered as traditional classrooms. So says Elliott Masie of the

Masie Center of Saratoga Springs, New York. In an interactive


( and he tells about the

survey, taken in December, 2000.

But he sounds a note of caution. "Five years ago, a similar


decrease in classroom delivery was highlighted in a number of industry

surveys, only to find that a large percentage of E-learning was


additive, in terms of creating new learning activities, rather than

replacing the classroom."

Another study discovered that most people (47 percent) would want

to take E-learning offerings at their own desks at work. Home was

the preferred spot for one-fifth of the respondents, and a learning

center or a conference room for another fifth. Only 15 percent found

taking a course at their desk would be "very distracting,"

with "colleagues stopping by" the most frequent interruption.

Other activities that would make it difficult to concentrate on an

E-learning course: Phone calls (33 percent), E-mail checking (15


consequences from an unsupportive manager (7 percent), and the saddest

of all, three percent reported ridicule from unsupportive colleagues.

Masie foresees continuing confusion caused by the E-learning craze.

"Statements about E-learning are now coming from the mouths of

major CEOs such as John Chambers of Cisco. There are commissions


on the impact of digital learning in Congress and the White House,

alongside a host of standards committees. Every day at least one new

E-learning vendor seems to pop on to the scenes."

"The capital markets are hot on the E-learning space, promoting

investment in this area and moving E-learning groups toward early

IPOs. And the E-business pressure within organizations to align


processes with the transformational power of the Internet is reaching

into the training and learning arena, often bypassing the training

department," he warns. If each line of business develops its own

formats, chaos could result.

He recommends going into pilot programs first. "A coherent


strategy will include a process to coordinate the efforts of learning

groups across the organization, to experiment and uncover best


to cope with the high rate of change in the marketplace, and to


E-learning into the ongoing classroom offerings."

"The Center has seen a key difference in organizations that are

building strong E-learning strategies and those that are diving into

this space without a strategy."

Just what to call this new phenomena? Eight percent of the


say we will merely call it "learning." Some of the other


terms are electronic performance support, I-learning, distributed

learning, multi-media training, and learning technology. But nore

than one-third of the professionals that Masie surveyed want to stick

with the term "E-learning."

Next Story

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments