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 (www.chauncey.com) at the Rosedale Road campus), and ETS
alumni have started their own successful firms, like Knapp &
International (KAI, www.knappinternational.com), a testing and
certification company at Montgomery Commons. A major player in
learning, Princeton Learning Systems, was founded here and sold to
eMind (www.emind.com). 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 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
08540. Robert P. Delamontagne, president. 609-627-5300; fax,
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
08534. Debra Newton, president. 609-818-0025; fax, 609-818-0045.
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
(www.masie.com and www.learningdecisions.com) 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."
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