About Malartu

Welcome to Malartu Inc. We are a non-profit organization created with the objective to improve the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of professors in higher education.

We are an organization of teaching professors started by teaching professors.

Why Was Malartu Started?

We saw a big need. There are literally billions of dollars spent every year on educational technology.  But the vast majority of the money goes to hardware, software and services that do three things:  hardware in the classroom, enterprise systems for the college/university (such as the student registration system), and delivery of content to students (such as Blackboard or e-books).  Very little is invested to make professors more productive.  In fact, all the other technology has made a teaching professor’s job harder and more time-consuming.  We need better solutions than using Excel to keep gradebooks or using Word to design to a course or write a test. Learning Management Systems make it easy to administer a test online, but they don’t make it easy to analyze and improve course design.We need tools designed for us and our tasks.

Further, higher education has been organized into silos and very decentralized. Professors often work in relative isolation.  Teachers at small schools may have nobody that teaches the same subjects to talk to.  Adjuncts at all schools are even more isolated.  We need to talk and share with each other if we are to become better.  But to talk and share, we need an easy way to connect, find each other, and converse away from the open public.  We can’t all afford to travel to conferences regularly.  We need a way to connect quickly and easily with each other.  These aren’t conversations that could or should be held in public forums like Facebook.  We need a professional forum space.

These tools and services for professors haven’t been forthcoming, so we decided we should step up and provide them.

What We Do

Our purpose is to help professors to help each other to become more productive, more effective, and more efficient.

We do this by building and providing the tools, technology, and social networks designed to meet the specific needs of teaching professors in higher education.  Why do we think we can make a difference?  Because we’re professors ourselves. We understand the real-world job of teaching.  And we know that educational technology in the past hasn’t always made our teaching job easier.  In fact, as educational technology has proliferated, the job of teaching and preparing to teach has gotten more complex, harder, and definitely more-time consuming.

For example, learning management systems such as Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, Angel, and others have done wonders to facilitate the direct teaching of students online and in-person.  But these LMS systems have also added significant burdens on a professor’s time.  That’s our target – how to make professors more productive.

Our goal is to build technology and provide web-based tools that make everyday teaching tasks easier, more productive, and ultimately more productive.  For example,we are working on projects to

  • make it easy for professors to connect with other professors who have the same teaching responsibilities and interests so they can share and converse on topics of interest such as teaching resources, assessment techniques, course design, or anything else. Learn more about it at The Prof Net page under Projects.
  • make it easier to write better objective tests, grade those tests in less time, and enable analysis of the results that quickly points out how to improve teaching. Learn more about it at the Curriculum Intelligence page under Projects.

We have other ideas also but we’re also interested in what you need.  Tell us.  What it is that takes your time that you wish the computer or the Web made easier?

The technology and services we are developing are focused on the teaching professor, not delivery to the student.  We intend to integrate with student-facing technology because that will help make professors’ jobs easier, but we’re focused on the functionality and services that other technologies don’t provide.

Why We Are Non-Profit

We aren’t interested in getting filthy rich by starting some killer ed-tech startup.  We’re interested in teaching. We just want to do it better and more productively.  It’s been our experience in our years in higher education that often the for-profit nature of many education technology providers gets in the way.  Often it leads to sudden changes in ownership or shifts in product strategies that don’t really help professors.  Other times the for-profit needs of investors drives technology providers to try to “lock-in” users or close-off the product so higher prices can be charged.

We aim to be open.  We also aim to be around a long time.  We want professors to trust us as a reliable support. Our services will be designed to be sustainable at low, free, or nearly-free costs.  We think that’s the best way to help higher education.  We realize this means that money for development costs is harder to come by since we can’t access profit-seeking venture capital sources, but we believe that grants, pilot investments by institutions, and  contributions will be sufficient to get the development done.

If for-profit corporations or schools want to change and provide the tools we need, we will support their efforts.  We’re willing to work with others to get the tools and improvements needed.  If others want to step up, we’ll help, advise, and then we’ll gladly go back to our teaching.  That’s what we really want to do.  But in the meantime, we’ll make sure the tools and services get here.

Who Started Malartu and When?

Malartu is the result of many years of planning and analysis. Malartu was formally incorporated as non-profit corporation in the State of Michigan in March 2011.  The founders are:

  • Jim Luke, a Professor of Economics at Lansing Community College.  Jim has extensive experience in both business & technology strategy development as well as teaching in higher education. More on his background at jimluke.com.
  • Sue-Anne Sweeney, a Professor of Gerontology at Madonna University.
  • Meta Lothman, Professor Emeritus of  Psychology at Oakland Community College with extensive experience as fiscal analyst of a major non-profit organization.
  • Mark Fischer, now a Contracts Negotiator for Federal Express, but with teaching experience in the past with Madonna University.

Malartu is an independent organization and not officially affiliated with nor associated with any of the corporations, colleges, or universities listed above.

Want to Get Involved or Learn More?

Contact us. Please contact Jim Luke by email at jol2@plansolutions.com.





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