Justin Murray
Justin Murray
Justin Murray

Algonquin has invested $450,000 in a local tech firm to develop a new e-text platform.

The new platform, known as Texidium, was developed by Kivuto solutions – a local tech company that bills itself as a worldwide leader in digital distribution.

Texidium allows students to locate, purchase and view their course texts digitally. The technology also makes it easier for students to read their e-texts on their smartphones.

Algonquin announced it would explore a partnership with Kivuto at last February’s Board of Governors meeting.

The original deal, which was announced in April, would have seen Algonquin as a partner in Texidium with Kivuto. Nelson Education and Pearson Canada – both of which are textbook publishers – supply the content for the e-texts.

However, the college’s place in the partnership has changed.

Texidium was initially intended to be a stand-alone entity, with Algonquin owning shares worth $450,000. Instead, Kivuto has taken ownership of Texidium.

“Texidium is a product line under Kivuto,” said Richard White, president of Kivuto Solutions. “We liked this business opportunity enough that we rolled Texidium under Kivuto.”

The idea is that Texidium will be a product offered by Kivuto, similar to Windows being a product by Microsoft.

Algonquin, instead of having an ownership stake in Texidium, now has an “option to invest” in Kivuto, according to White. The $450,000 initial investment by Algonquin has been spent in the development phase.

“Investors see more value in Kivuto than they do in Texidium,” said Claude Brulé, Algonquin’s senior VP academic, explaining why the partnership has changed.

The technology consists of four parts, two of which were developed by Algonquin. Those two parts – the publisher asset library and the book adoption technology – were purchased by Kivuto from Algonquin for an undisclosed sum.

When asked how much the college earned from the sale, Brulé said “I don’t have those figures so I can’t comment on that.”

Texidium is currently undergoing 12 pilot programs in several educational institutions, including the University of Wisconsin.

White said he thinks that Algonquin has positioned itself well going forward.

“This move towards digital is not a stoppable thing. Algonquin is the pointy edge in this movement,” White said.

“Other institutions haven’t yet understood issues like reading a PDF on a smartphone is not a good experience,” White said.

Another person who was integral to the development of Texidium is Glenn MacDougall, Algonquin’s former director of learning and teaching services.

“The concept of an end-to-end solution was his brainchild,” said Brulé.

MacDougall is no longer with Algonquin. He is now working for Kivuto as the vp of technology for Texidium.

Brulé says this is a good deal for Algonquin. “This is a partnership that’s here to stay.”

Despite the fact that MacDougall played such a major role in Texidium’s development, and is now with Kivuto, the college holds no ill will.

“We are partners together in developing this solution,” Brulé said.