E-learning Business Analysis

Posted March 25, 2021 by  ‐ 5 min read

Education first-principles, SWOT analysis, and roadmap.

This is a business analysis I did on an e-learning education company for children. I’ve changed the name since I think they would appreciate that. I’m calling the company Edward.

Approach - Parent and Investor

I’ve taken the approach of a parent considering options for my child’s education. Additionally, I wanted to look at Edward as an investor. I’ve tried to assume little so that I’m not bound by any mental models except the one I was able to construct independently.

  1. I’ve started by asking the question, “What are the first-principles of learning?”
  2. From those answers, I’ve asked, “How does Edward fit into the grand scheme of learning?”
  3. And finally, “In what ways could Edward be a viable platform in the marketplace?”

These answers provided me with a lens for viewing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Finally, I constructed a Roadmap proposal to help focus the business.

I. Epistemology first-principles of learning

All philosophy starts with an inquiry, a desire for understanding. Simply put: asking questions and trying to answer them. Below you’ll find two models for learning from the perspective of philosophy.

Dr. Efrat Furst’s model of learning:

  1. Learn - perceiving information
  2. Know - rehearse the information
  3. Understand - connect prior knowledge
  4. Master - practice knowledge

My model of learning:

  1. Knowledge - structured information
  2. Learn - the process of transferring knowledge
  3. Clarification - acquire dependent knowledge
  4. Understanding - see the structure of knowledge
  5. Insight - create a new structure of knowledge from other knowledge

II. Neuroscience first-principles of learning

Neuroscience of Learning

  • Encoding - the selective perception of things that happen around us
  • Consolidation - physical and chemical changes in our brain called memory traces
  • Retrieval - act of remembering something
  • Reconsolidation - each retrieval of information becomes weaker or stronger

In order for learning to be effective, the process above needs to be repeated several times.

Types of Memory

  • Working memory - our processing unit, where we process and manipulate information to solve a problem which has a very limited capacity
  • Long-term memory - our storage box of unlimited information for an entire lifetime

Cognitive Load Theory (CLT):

  • Our working memory has limited capacity. There is only so much new knowledge we can process at one point.
  • Our ability to use information already stored in memory is unlimited.

Read more on the Neuroscience of Learning by Flavia S. Belham, PhD in Neuroscience & Biology teacher

III. Proven Pedagogy (method of teaching)

Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction:

  • Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning
  • Present new material in small steps followed by student practice
  • Ask questions and check answers
  • Use models
  • Guide practice
  • Check for understanding
  • Obtain a high success rate
  • Provide scaffolds in difficult tasks
  • Stimulate and monitor independent practice
  • Conduct weekly and monthly review

Dunlosky’s Strategies (ordered so that most effective is top):

  • Practice testing
  • Distributed practice
  • Interleaved practice
  • Elaborative interrogation
  • Self-explanation
  • Rereading
  • Highlighting
  • Summarisation
  • Keyword mnemonic
  • Imagery for text

In both cases, what works is retrieval and reconsolidation.

Insights from the first-Principles of learning

  1. Cognitive Load Theory shows us that we should limit the amount of knowledge we try to teach at a given point.
  2. Rosenshine shows us that students need to review knowledge they’ve learned.
  3. Dunlosky shows us that we should make use of that knowledge through Q&A.
  4. The neuroscience shows us that all learning needs to be:
    • reviewed and reinforced multiple times
    • connected to other knowledge
  5. Furst shows us that the most effective way to master knowledge is to practice and apply it.

Final consolidated model: Learn → Rehearse → Connect → Practice

Shifting gears, how does Edward stack up?

Two main business considerations:

  1. Does Edward do a good job of educating?
  2. Does Edward function well as a business?

Below is a SWOT analysis from education and business perspectives.

Edward Strengths - What do we do well?


  • Passionate teachers produce quality entertaining educational content which engages students with fun learning.
  • Student-centered teaching approach which gives kids the ability to “opt-in” to subjects they find interesting. This encourages intrinsic motivation and lifelong learning.
  • Ability to explore creative teaching methods.


  • The content is proprietary and exclusive to Edward.
  • Leverages the benefits of feedback from “many minds” creating opportunities for educational innovation.
  • Has a good technical foundation for innovative technical solutions.
  • Learn from anywhere
  • Has great relationships with creative teachers.

Edward Weaknesses - What could we improve?


  • While Edward produces great content there are large gaps in the learning process for Rehearse → Connect → Practice


  • Feedback mechanisms do not adequately exist. This reduces the benefit of the “many minds” needed for an innovation feedback loop.
  • Has not yet shown that parents/guardians are willing to pay for it.
  • Does not provide adequate information to parents and teachers.

Edward Opportunities - What options are available to us?


  • Support the full learning process.


  • Create a compelling reason for parents to purchase the platform beyond what currently exists.
  • Create an innovation feedback loop. How could the proprietary content be improved? What functionality do parents want? What questions do the children have? How is Edward helping? How is Edward getting in the way? Key question: “What would you like to be able to do in Edward?”

Edward Threats - What could harm you?

  • Running out of capital before finding a viable income mechanism.
  • Future government regulations
  • Technical mistakes. Leaking a child’s privacy or safety. Unreliable UX.
  • Incorrect or misinformation. Bad lessons which lead to distrust.
  • Mishandling relationships with teachers, parents, or students.
  • Not innovating quickly enough to make people feel their voices matter.
  • Not demonstrating platform value to parents to ensure continued use.
  • Not having content which is engaging enough for students to want to continue learning.
  • Becoming a distraction or noisey platform in an oversaturated content rich world.

Roadmap proposal

  1. Innovation feedback loops
    • Analytics dashboards
    • User feature voting and roadmap
    • In-app freeform feedback
    • Regular touch points with parents and teachers
  2. Student Recognition
    • Rewards in the form of badges
    • Progress encouragements
    • Points system for time invested
  3. Courses
    • Course maps
    • Practice tests
    • Recognition and Rewards
  4. Student Projects
    • Choose a concept
    • Form a question and project
    • Creating a short video demonstrating knowledge
    • Earn recognition

Final Thoughts

Overall, Edward has an enormous opportunity to provide entertaining and effective education for children across the world. The opportunities primarily come from:

  1. Unique partnerships with passionate teachers who create entertaining content.
  2. Solid technical foundations allowing for teaching innovation and excellent feedback loops.