Many, if not most, online learning platforms are simply content plonked up on a site, from which students try to take notes and cut and paste.
As a learning environment however, this is nowhere near good enough says OceanBrowser CEO Rodney Tamblyn.
OceanBrowser has developed a soon to be launched web application that turns around the typical content management system approach to putting up course material, and created a teacher and student friendly system that is set to revolutionise the internet-based learning experience.
Tamblyn's team are initially concentrating on the higher end, medical school type environment, and backing this into a deep understanding of the psychology and living and working environment of its participants.
In cracking this nut, Tamblyn's confident that other, not-quite-as-sophisticated education markets will easily be able to use the same system.
Many academics, for example medical professors, are time-starved and are often not as technologically sophisticated as their students.
If they put a relevant teaching document up on a site, it has to be something they can do easily. By working in a browser, changes are saved directly to the page.
OB 3 allows them to do this in a beautifully laid out manner he says. And because OB 3 splits an online document up into elements, an academic can easily edit documents online, using familiar processes like copy and paste, and dragging content from their computer, allow easy inclusion of text content, media (text, image video) or web resources such as YouTube videos.
Conversely, a student can click on any part of the document, ask for more information, start a discussion and highlight (annotate) any part of a document for future reference.
An academic can even receive a mobile phone message about a request for more information from the web application says Tamblyn.
"The idea behind what we've created is that people want to participate in different ways," says the Dunedin-based founder.
"It enhances the connection between groups, recognises the reality of their profile and the nature of the work they do."
For medical students in particular, especially those pursuing a specialty, the OB 3 platform should be hugely advantageous he says.
Such students may be in their 30s, have a young family and be working long hours in a hospital. They're meant to be able to study on top of this.
"They need to be able to fit study in around a busy work schedule and other commitments," says Tamblyn. For them to take two to three minutes to log on to a system, several times a day, could add up to an hour a week. A simple feature such as quick login which restores your previous study session, allowing you to continue from where you left off can save precious time. Simple things like this that can make a big difference to students."
He says the OB 3 web application is about creating a learning environment that works better for all participants. Its development has been greatly assisted by Dr Gloria Gomez who is the educational and interaction designer of the web application.
Tamblyn says the beta version of OB 3 will have its first appearance in March and launch in the middle of the year.