LCMS selection for the small business

Professional Development, Inc. LMS Analysis


Section 1 – Needs Analysis

Executive Summary
Professional Development, Inc., a local professional communication and professional development business, seeks to launch their new subdivision of online learning.  Currently training takes place in the classroom.  The online training initiative will be a hybrid of asynchronous e-learning and synchronous webinars.  A research strategy will analyze current practices for transitioning classroom to online learning and to compare costs to ROI. An LMS or similar wrapper is needed to host the new course series.  A technology selection analysis will be used to assist the client in choosing an LMS.  In addition, further options for blended learning will be addressed. The project was framed in Google docs, forms and spreadsheets in order to get ballpark costs and organize research analysis outcomes.

Business Need
Professional Development, Inc. would like to convert their courses online so that they can expand their audience and increase the revenue in their business.

Expected Benefits
Asynchronous Learning:  Students may access the training as needed and may be more likely to select course offerings.  Students that miss will have the option to make up the class with asynchronous learning.  Courses will be accessible at any time of the day.
Synchronous Learning: Live webinars allow the business to have a wider audience, where students can practice with real examples of participants’ conversations simultaneously over the internet.  It is expected that the business will receive additional revenues.

Learning Opportunity
Asynchronous Learning: Students will be able to access Professional Development, Inc. video courses online.  A library of skills has already been recorded.  For example, if the learner chooses to review specific skills before critical business meetings, they may access the lessons at their convenience.
Synchronous Learning:  Live webinars can attract a wider audience not limited to the greater central Pennsylvania area. In addition, webinars can be recorded and placed into an LMS so that students can review what they learned at any time.

As live webinar presentations become more mainstreamed in business, participants will have more options to apply their new skills in a variety of platforms.  Instructors and peers can assist participants as they evaluate and provide feedback of how their communication styles come across media technology.  Students will appreciate the values and interests of their audience from the client’s perspective.  Participants will practice using the latest in webinar communication etiquette such as polling, raising hands, chatting, forums and emails.  Professional Development, Inc. instructors will expand these activities while they build upon these exercises with style, content, and delivery of their verbal presentations.

A blended approach allows webinars to take place during regular courses. A producer runs the webinar and assists the online audience during the live course.
The online expansion will allow students to further examine communication habits. Learners will break down and strengthen crucial communication elements in a broader setting.  Students learn to adjust their personal style of communication by participating in a series of like courses through webinars, classroom and asynchronous learning, skills will be reinforced.

Online Learner Profile
Most of the learners will be in the sales or business management fields.  Age ranges are anticipated to be consistent with the work force with a wide range of technology skills.

Section 2 – Project Outline
Project Goals

  • Select a Learning Management System or appropriate wrapper to host courses
  • Discuss options for blended learning platforms

Project Objectives

  • Analyze technology selection needs vs. wants
  • Assist client in choosing an appropriate LMS based on his unique business needs
  • Compare costs to ROI
  • Discuss further options for blended learning

Project Conflicts

  • Time and expenses related to the purchase of a functioning LMS and web conferencing host will need to be sorted out prior to the project.
  • The instructional designer will provide some guidance to the selection of these platforms but ultimately, the client must make the final purchasing decision.
  • The instructional designer will work on this project on a part time basis. (A Gantt chart will be created after technology selection).

Out of Scope
The following items are not considered to be within the scope of the project:

  • Providing, designing or coding a website
  • Designing and formatting a platform or LMS for more than 20 unpaid hours total
  • Coding an LMS
  • Analyzing, designing, developing or teaching a course
  • Assisting with the production of live webinars for more than 6 unpaid hours
  • Maintaining files, updates, media or courses after the end of the project
  • Additional training or evaluation after project completion

Clients Responsibilities
The client is ultimately responsible to provide an LMS or similar platform for the instructional designer to work on at his expense.  The client shall provide a web conferencing host for the webinar courses at his expense.  All additional maintenance and expenses related to platforms and upkeep are the responsibility of the client.

Project Success Measures

  • An LMS is selected and purchased
  • A webinar is discussed and evaluated

Project Milestones

  • Analysis of LMS needs vs. wants
  • A total of six LMS will be considered and evaluated
  • Meeting with Harrisburg University and Avalon Foster
  • A consultation of the preliminary results
  • Schedule vendor demonstrations
  • Establish Budget
  • Design a Return for Proposal (RFP) for LMS Bids
  • Selection of LMS

Timeline and Resources
A Gantt chart will be created after the selection of an LMS

Project Design Summary
An embedded questionnaire was sent to vendors selected to contact for an RFI.  30 vendors responded.

Research Methods:

  • Questionnaire
  • Phone calls/ e-mails
  • Google Docs
  • Estimated Project Costs
  • Establish Budget
  • ROI

Section 3 – Business Profile

Business Goal
Professional Development, Inc. seeks to improve communication skills in individuals and organizations by receiving the benefit of an ideal development environment – fun, interactive sessions that focus on the most powerful tools and techniques.

Business Objectives

Business Philosophy and Values

Business Mission
Improve communication skills by experimenting in a safe and risk-free environment.

Professional Development, Inc. business is founded on a “Classroom” concept.  “Workouts” are designed for ‘delivering confidence through competence’ by drill and practice. Members are able to try new methods, styles and techniques where feedback can be provided.  Online learning provides greater flexibility and increased potential for revenue.

Projected Growth
By expanding into online learning, students will be able to access and review courses through the internet.  Webinars provide additional opportunities to expand the audience beyond the parameters of the Harrisburg Metropolitan area.

Research Methods:

  • Interview
  • e-mails
  • Phone calls
  • CG Web Site
  • YouTube Videos
  • Attend a CG Course

Section 4 – Research

Research Goals
Research effective online learning models that take into account the subject matter, online learning requirements, course materials, learning objectives

Research Objectives
By September 2012, the client will be able to:

Research Methods

Initial LMS e-mail price and feature inquiries  (See Appendix B for list of LMS recipients and responses)
Survey Request for Information (RFI) (See Appendix C)
A Request for Information was created after the initial e-mail inquiries in the form of an embeddable survey.  This was sent to over 100 LMS vendors.  The survey had 32 responses and several vendors responded to the e-mail but declined to participate in the survey for various reasons.  Based on the e-mail responses, it appeared that some of the LMS vendors preferred to receive a more formal Request for Proposal (RFP) from their potential customers to bid on.

The survey was helpful in that it confirmed the initial selection as to be in alignment with the needs and wants of the client.  Price breakdowns were varied per business model and the survey uncovered some creative ways for LMS companies to charge customers for additional services.  The survey allowed scoring of specific features to be more accurate and made the phone calls to the sales representatives go more smoothly.

LMS Websites
Product websites were researched and reviewed for several LMS companies including those on the final list.

LMS Free Trials
Some of the LMS companies that were reviewed offered free trials.  The free trials were used as a sandbox to experiment with navigational features.

Phone calls to LMS representatives
Most of the companies were contacted and interviewed by telephone in the final round.  Gaps of information were covered and price structures were verified.

Virtual LMS Demonstrations
Only one LMS was selected for a live virtual demonstration.  efront was chosen because of the high score that it received and its remote location in Grease.  A second demonstration is available upon request.  Vendors from the final LMS list are eager to demonstrate their products at the client’s convenience!

Research Conclusion
A LMS Decision Selection Analysis was created to rate the features and costs of the following selected LMS systems.  The rating criteria were based on the needs and wants of the client.  The following scores are based on the combined costs and features and ranked accordingly.

LMS Short List(See Appendix A  for extended results)

LMS Final List:

Approx Price




$1000/mo Fugu (Comparative) Total: 3246Rank: 6 Difficult to calculate (See Notes)
$300/mo WestNet MLP Total: 3946Rank: 4 Free storage for first 50 courses
$320/mo Efront Total: 4457Rank: 1 3 month minimum
$399/mo iSpring Online Total: 3261Rank: n/a Disqualified due to limited registration and shopping cart capabilities
$475/mo Accord Interzoic Media Total: 4174Rank: 3 Storage Fees extra Each 5gb storage is $20
$495/mo  iLMS Total: 4190Rank:2 up to 100 courses only
$300-$500/mo TeraLearn LCMS 3796Rank: 5 Additional Storage Fees, negotiable

It is recommended to schedule demonstrations for each LMS moving forward.  A Return for Proposal should be created to start the bidding process.  The formal RFP would allow the client to state their maximum budget. The client should plan for a $300 – $500/mo budget with initial bidding around or under $300/month.  If the $300/month bid does not produce favorable results, a new bid can be submitted.  The instructional technologist would like to create the RFP for the client as the next step in the process and schedule the first round of LMS demonstrations.

Section 5 – Development and Implementation

Development Plan
How many hours from the development team will be put in the project?

Implementation Resources

  • Discussion with Harrisburg University about using Adobe Connect as a platform for webinars.
  • Avalon Foster may be available to assist with marketing

Available Technology

  • You Tube videos
  • CG Video Camcorder

Comparative LMS
Fugu (Gracie University) was the comparable LMS selected due to its slick interface design, usability and client likability.  Fugu was contacted about its services as a potential LMS.  Unfortunately the business model would not fit well with Professional Development, Inc. and the price would be too costly to make it worth it.  Fugu wanted to retain its branding and receive 35 percent of all revenues.  Fugu would be unable to serve blended learning management for the classroom side of Professional Development, Inc..

LMS Interface Design Considerations:
Considerations should be made to keep the interface more intuitive. Currently in the classroom, Professional Development, Inc. curriculum takes participants through four levels of competency. New skills are tested as students learn the fundamentals of each level. As participants progress through the various levels and display competence, they receive insignia pins to indicate their new level. (Insignia pins are similar to that in martial arts and coded sequentially in white, yellow, blue, silver, and black.) This process allows participants to move at their pace. The interface design should correspond to the classroom competency levels so that participants that utilize both classroom and online learning can more easily navigate through the interface.

Uniformity should be a consideration to align the new online learning with the classroom and business model.

Individual Services:
Business coaching and programs are set to 90 minute classroom workouts.  Current classroom membership allows you to attend up to two communication “workouts” per week.  Online courses should be designed to correspond with classroom courses for uniformity. An interface should allow users to access free and member based videos; these can be the video shorts that were already created on ‘You Tube.’  Members can access two live or recorded webinars per week.  Additional courses should be extra.

Corporate Services:
Each Communication Competency Module (CCM) is 8 hours of coached sessions scheduled to meet the needs of individual companies.  Professional Development, Inc. can up sell corporate packages.  Companies can have their sessions recorded by webinar and presented as a live blended option accessible later as an asynchronous learning CD or hosted on the LMS for a specific time period. Sessions can be produced on or off site. Currently the optimum classroom format is four two-hour sessions spaced one or two weeks apart. Five basic CCM’s are available and custom courses can be designed for an additional fee.

The ideal LMS will be one that Professional Development, Inc. will be able to easily maintain without hiring a developer.  Videos should be easy to upload and maintain.  The LMS should have a shopping cart feature, utilize assessments and generate scores.  Maintenance and bandwidth will need to be analyzed further.  Plug-ins such as captivate should be compatible with the LMS.  Webinars that can automatically be loaded would be a bonus.  An LMS should be considered for a small business budget.

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Interactive Design Doc

Looking for Radio James Objective builder on the internet the other day, I was sadly disappointed as it appears that the tool is no longer available:( So, I added drop boxes to a four page interactive design document template. The design doc now conveniently lists verbs from Blooms Taxonomy!
Interactive Design Doc 1

Click on the link to the downloadable pdf. Interactive_Design_doc_v1 (For hints on what each level does, roll the mouse over each category and a pop up box will appear.)

I am always looking for instructional design tools that will open up creative channels. I have a few more designs in mind, so, keep checking back in the future! In the meantime if you have any feedback or links to share feel free to make a comment or email me at

Creative Commons License
Interactive Design Doc by Angela Rupert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

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Instructional Design Phase Estimate

design phase example

design phase example 2

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“Rupertism” Behaviorism in real time at the Rupert family home

The following is a pun on Behaviorism that I wrote for my learning theories course at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology while working on my masters degree. Our challenge was to create a storyline to help us remember the terms related to behaviorism.

In case you don’t know or remember, Ivan Pavlov was the psychologist that did “classical conditioning” animal experiments with dogs pairing the sound of the bell with food (stimulus).  After a while, the animals would salivate (response) to just the sound of the bell (transference).

“Rupertism” Behaviorism in real time at the Rupert family home

Behaviorism influenced learning analysis by administering an “objective” approach, focusing on measurable behaviors, as a means to incorporate the scientific method in the discipline of psychology. Rather than analyzing non-observable mental processing, behaviorists focus on stimuli and responses in all organisms, human and non-human alike. Learning occurs when environmental stimuli triggers a response to an organism. Traditional behaviorists do not differentiate between organisms, adult and child learners.

Classical Conditioning is a branch of behaviorism that can help explain generalized learning and stimulus discrimination. Generalized learning can occur when an adult learner is able to apply a learned response to similar stimulus. A student turns in their paper late and receives a failing grade. The student may infer that all late assignments will result in a failing grade. Stimulus discrimination occurs in an adult learner when they distinguish between learned responses. The same student turns in a late paper with a different professor and receives a small reduction of points. The student learns that work turned into the first professor will be a priority.

Instrumental conditioning is best illustrated by Operant Conditioning. A pleasant reinforcement presented after a desired response is the most effective way for learning to occur. For the adult learner in the classroom, compliments after a correct answer or high marks on an assignment are considered effective responses to reinforce learning.

Rupertism Defined: Rupert parents attempt to shape their children’s behavior. Due to the parent’s misguided idealism of intrinsic reinforcement and pathetic attempts to chain behaviors using intermittent reinforcements, the Rupert children have, in a twist of dysfunctionalism, learned how to use active-avoidance as a negative reinforcement to shape their parent’s behavior.

Rupertism Example #1:
Rupert Junior II, age six, does not like to go to sleep. Since he was born, he was a wide eyed, very alert baby, rarely requiring naps after the age of two. Mother requires more sleep then Jr. II and needs her son to go to bed at nine so that she can do her homework in peace. Rupert Jr. II has figured out that if he gets out of bed, and fools around at the top of the stairs (stimulus), Mom will ask Dad to put Jr. II back into bed so she can finish her homework. Dad will lay down with Jr. II (response) and until Jr. II falls asleep. Mom often finds Dad fallen asleep alongside Rupert Jr. II.

Rupertism Example #2:
The Rupert Boys do not like Mama’s cooking. Daddy is a gourmet chef, and is difficult to compete with. Mom will make the boys something healthy like penne pasta with home-made marinara from garden tomatoes and basil served in a hallowed spaghetti squash bowl.
The boys are not fooled. They scowl, pick at the food, move it around with their forks and carefully scrape marinara off of each individual noodle before slowly nibbling on it. Five noodles later, the boys announce they are full and wait for their father to come home. Giving their dad saucer eyes and boo boo lips (stimulus); they state that they are starving. Would Daddy PLEASE make them some Kraft Mac and Cheese. Dad falls for it (response), whips up some mac & cheese, scratch biscuits, fresh cut French fries and steak cooked medium served with buttered corn on the cob and followed by ice cream for dessert. Mom eats leftover penne pasta with spaghetti squash for lunch for the next two days (restitutional overcorrection).

Rupertism Example #3:
The boys have had tidy bedroom training on many occasions (positive reinforcement). However, the Rupert boys still do not like to clean their room. The boys will let their room become so messy that the floor is covered with toys and clothes (aversion). Mom will send the boys up to their room to clean it up (punishment I). The boys will put a couple of toys away and put some dirty clothes in the hamper. Mom will start working on the computer. Rupert Jr. I will shut the door (aversion) and start building Legos. Jr. II will start jumping on the bed. Mom will start yelling at the boys to clean their room. The boys will get quiet. Mom goes upstairs to check their progress. She finds that the boys have made no progress and are now watching an episode of iCarly in her bedroom (negative reinforcement). Mom sees that it is bedtime, yells at the boys (verbal reprimand) to put their pajamas on and ends up cleaning their room for them the next day (misplaced restitution).

Labels: Behaviorism, Real Time Pun, Rupertism
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Flow Chart Examples

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Consulting Proposal on Prezi

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From a graduate level Learning Technologies course at Harrisburg University, in Central PA. The course was called: Managing Technology Resources, and has been immensely helpful in the world of corporate learning and project management. SMARTest Consulting was the final e-learning Presentation on a Collaborative Project Management three students in the course. The ppt was re-purposed on prezi using a non-linear, sequential design inspired by my visual learning course at Harrisburg University. The web was created on a ppt using freehand shape tools and saved as a PING. The web was transferred as an image and saved in the background.

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Assessments in the Hot Spot

Testing Interface Design
Ethical considerations with assessment accommodations should be further researched with individual variations as a valid and reliable alternative to mainstream testing.

Metric variables can affect the validity of the assessment phase in evaluation. Intrinsic factors reflect the individual. The amount of sleep, health, emotional state, learning preference and cultural diversity can generate varied results in testing.

An open accommodation e-test would be valid and reliable if all persons shared the same opportunities to access accommodations. Students would be encouraged to access accommodations as a test taking strategy and e-tests would record accessed accommodations. Students that relied heavily on accessing accommodations would have the opportunity to receive remediation in study skills if necessary. Many disabled students would be able to take their tests alongside their peers without being pulled out to have the tests read to them by special education teachers.

The following assessment strategy outlines a proposal to open accommodations to all students. A sample assessment prototype was constructed to further illustrate this purpose. (Screen shots from the sample prototype are incorporated throughout the article.)  Hot spots are incorporated in the example prototype.

The following screen shots illustrate the various lay-outs that the test-taker can select for using hot spots rather than multiple choice, by clicking directly on the most appropriate answer.  Hot Spots eliminate the need for alpha-linear answers that can be distracting to the test-taker.


School districts can lose government funding or worse, administrative control due to poor test scores. Federal law mandates that schools provide opportunities for testing accommodations to students with disabilities. With so much at stake, school districts are spending a bulk of the school year teaching multiple choice test strategies to students in order to increase test scores.

As educators, we have an ethical obligation to teach students how to access their individual learning style rather than funnel all student learning into linear, text based, multiple choice thinking. Studies of mainstreamed assessments with testing accommodations for all populations should be conducted with the highest of priorities.


An example exam has been constructed to demonstrate what open-accommodation standardized e-testing should be modeled after. Online assessments should be purposefully planned using proven learning models to reduce metric variables among learners. Learner perception is influenced by an intuitive interface. A web interface is selected by the learner before the test to optimize the performance of the test. Web interface selection and all optional accommodations selected by the learner are recorded to give educators more information about the learner. National standardized tests should be repurposed for their original intent; as tools to get a clearer picture of the learner’s profile.

Linear testing strategies are emphasized even though studies show that human brains are not linear in structure (U.S. Department of Education, 1997). Design considerations of the following e-test prototype provide the learner with an optional testing interface. The learner can select linear or non-linear test interface strategies. The linear test interface would be considered traditional in design; the test author selects the order of the sub-categories for the learner to test in.

Emotional well-being, test anxiety and stress can greatly factor metric variables. The e-test illustrates improvements for visual learners that prefer information organized and presented in a non-linear, central graphic format.

The tester can select subject subsections according to their individual preference. For the learner that prefers to tackle more familiar questions at start, this can help reduce stress.

A person who experiences test anxiety can have relaxing music played on a headset. A mental relaxation tutorial can be accessed before the test at the option of the user. With authoring technology, a person who is losing concentration can choose to take breaks with stimulating computer brain games between test sections.

The following e-test offers a variety of accommodation options for learners with visual or auditory processing difficulties. Test takers can listen for auditory responses to hot spots through a headset.

A dyslexic learner can choose a cursive font to help prevent mistakes due to letter reversal during testing.

Inclusion of English language learners on large scale assessments is a critical issue nationwide (Butler, F. A. and Stevens, R 1997). Examples, prompts, questions and directions can be accessed through a computer generated voice in English or in the student’s native language.

An accommodation that allows English language learners to select key test words in their native tongue can easily be constructed.

Such assessments can further be authored to track the amount of times that the English language learner relied on reverting to their language of origin in order to measure English confidence proficiency.

Test questions that specifically measure text reading ability should be offered in both traditional linear style and with context cues to measure the differences in reader comprehension.

In other words, how often does the reader rely on context cues in order to comprehend?

The e-test proposal incorporated content on three grade levels in three different subjects.

Reading content is illustrated in the elementary grade levels.

Math content was chosen to demonstrate e-testing in the middle school level.

Content from a psychology 101 course demonstrates e-testing at the adult education level.

Test questions in each subject and age group have been further broke down into a Bloom’s Taxonomy grid to demonstrate testing on each level. An example from each of the Bloom’s levels has been made into a question on the test in each subject. Each of the three categories incorporates hot spots on the first five levels of blooms.

The sixth level of blooms, the evaluation phase, addresses an opportunity for students to provide written responses to demonstrate higher cognitive skills.

Data Collection and Analysis

Instructional technologists will collaborate with educators and state employees to develop a more comprehensive prototype. Measurable objectives for standardized testing are to be identified from state educational departments. Potential eligible questions may be modified from previously authored tests. Quantitative data will be collected for analysis from the assessments at pilot schools across the nation. Qualitative responses will also be included in the pilot findings.

Program Costs
An analysis of program costs is requested. If a committee approves the test prototype for further research, a grant committee can be selected to analyze costs and request appropriate educational funding opportunities from the government and private institutions for the development of future studies on open-accommodation style, standardized e-testing.

Conclusions and Recommendations
The open-accommodation e-test proposal should be studied in an appropriate assessment research environment for further evaluation. Currently, K-12 assessment accommodations are only available for students with Individualized Education Plans. Students that are eligible for Individual Education Plans must demonstrate a significant discrepancy between mainstream students in order to qualify for accommodations.

Test accommodation strategies should be taught instead of funneling and re-wiring brains to be linear and standardized. Individuals should be directed towards personal learning style accommodations to tackle tests. The viewpoint that testing must be as identical as possible to be reliable and fair should be challenged, all individuals should have access to test accommodations. Currently, educators teach our children multiple choice strategies throughout the school year. Rather, our focus should teach students how to study based on their individual learning preferences and provide testing in their individualized style. If everyone has the same access to these accommodations, then it is still valid and reliable.

Further test developments could provide testers with individualized levels and alternate accommodation views on a “per question” basis. For example, if a tester finds difficulty comprehending a particular question, the tester can select an alternate view such as a non-linear mind-map visual or auditory reading of the question. By tracking the tester’s accommodation choices and frequency during testing, educators have an opportunity to pin-point specific learning strategies that may need to be addressed for remediation. Entire school districts that rely heavily on certain accommodations when testing can receive funding for retraining staff to provide more appropriate teaching strategies.

In conclusion, keep in mind that assessments in general should always be treated as a tool to provide a snapshot into how a learner’s mind assimilates and retains information. The future of test reliability should be considered for research at the evaluation phase as test analysts need more clearly defined metric interpretation methods.

HUST 8/11/10 by Angela Rupert, Graduate Student, LTMS 520 Assessment, Dr. Gerry Post, Instructor, Andy Petroski, Department Chair


Shaw, S. (2008). Essay Marking On-Screen: Implications for Assessment Validity. E-Learning, 5(3), 256-274. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from
Butler, F. A. and Stevens, R (1997). Accommodation Strategies for English Language Learners on Large-Scale Assessments: Student Characteristics and Other Considerations. CSE Technical Report 448. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from
Benson, P. J. (2001). The More Things Change. . .Paper Is Still With Us The Journal of Electronic Publishing vol. 7, no. 2, Dec., 2001. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from idx?c=jep;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0007.205
Kordel, R. (2008). Information Presentation for Effective E-Learning EDUCAUSE Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 4 (October–December 2008) Retrieved July 10, 2010, from m/InformationPresentationforEffe/163438
Gregg Corr and Ruth Ryder (RIM 2007) Presentation: Monitoring, TA and Enforcement U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs 3.29.07 Retrieved July 10, 2010, from
Building the Legacy: IDEA (2004) Idea Partnership. Web. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from &oseppage=1
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