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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, March 26, 2012, 5:55 am

Santa Rosa education tech firm celebrates milestone

Also: What do you think about CSU decision to limit enrollment?

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    Democrasoft, Inc. (OTC: Pinksheets: DEMO) announced two “significant milestones” this month for its flagship online education platform, Collaborize Classroom.

    The Santa Rosa-based company reported that there have been 20,000 “Collaborize Classrooms” created by teachers worldwide, with 1.5 million individual lessons delivered to students via the online platform.

    The platform has steadily gained popularity since its launch in January of 2011.

    “Collaborize Classroom has quickly become part of a worldwide effort to adapt education to the 21st century needs of students everywhere,” said Richard Lang, company CEO, in a written release.

    The free online platform allows teachers to have secure conversations and share materials and lesson plans through any Internet browser or Web-enabled Apple device. There are currently 2,500 lesson topics on the site.

    The platform has experienced a 25 percent average growth rate since launch. Democrasoft, in its 20th year, offers a number of proprietary social media platforms for nonprofits, companies and schools.

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    California State University officials chose to bar enrollment for all but a relative handful of students in the spring 2013 semester, a move meant to stave off further tuition hikes in the financially strained system.

    The number of students admitted in spring 2013 will be “in the hundreds,” all currently in community colleges and through the Student Transfer Agreement Reform Act, also known as Senate Bill 1440. Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park is among the handful of campuses that will accept those students, along with Cal State campuses in San Francisco, Chico, Fullerton, the East Bay, Channel Islands, Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

    Having already taken a $750 million budget cut for the current fiscal year, the 23-campus CSU system said it could face another $200 million reduction for fiscal 2013 if California voters do not approve applicable tax measures on the November ballot.

    With that uncertainty, the system has also chosen to place students who apply for the 2013 fall semester on a waitlist, pending results of the election.

    “We’ve made the decision to cut enrollment to match our funding from the state,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the CSU.

    The decision was presented to the CSU board of trustees during its regular meeting last week, though no vote was required.

    This is the second time that the CSU has chosen to bar enrollment, following a similar move in response to $580 million budget cut in the spring semester of 2010, Mr. Uhlenkamp said.

    Spring enrollment is typically lower than in the fall, averaging 16,000 to 18,000, Mr. Uhlenkamp said. If tax measures fail to pass this year, the CSU would be forced to further reduce its enrollment by 20,000 to 25,000 students, he said.

    The CSU has experienced an approximately $1 billion cut in state funding in the past four years, with increased tuition covering approximately half of that reduction, according to the CSU. The system has increased class sizes and cut 6.6 percent of its staff in response.

    What are your thoughts on the CSU’s decision to bar enrollment for nearly all students in the spring semester? How much impact will the CSU near ban on spring 2013 enrollment have on the local business community? What is the long-term impact of drastic cuts to the system? Will you vote for tax increases to fund education in November? Share your thoughts in the NBBJ Pulse Poll, available at www.northbaybusinessjournal.com.

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    Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Eric Gneckow, 707-521-4259 eric.gneckow@busjrnl.com.

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