Celebrating 12 Years Of EdTech Development

We did it! Navigation North is turning 12 years old!

Happy Birthday, Navigation North!

In the spring of 2005, following a string of life choices which just weren’t working out as expected, Joe Hobson found he’d had enough with stifling his entrepreneurial spirit at a government job. So, he set out to try something new, on his own. After just a few weeks of searching for direction, Navigation North was born.


Here’s a look back at what Navigation North was working on during May in each of our fantastic previous years!

May 2005

Our founder and President, Joe Hobson, could be found in his tiny home office. He was trying to figure out a way to make individual java portlets come together to create a new system. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, most people don’t.


This is the desk and chair Joe had in his home office. He still loves and uses both today! The computer hiding next to a tennis ball was Navigation North’s first dev server, McBain.

Joe's Desk & Chair

May 2006

We installed new search options on CTAP Online and finally convinced our first intern he should find somewhere else to be incompetent. Wherever he ended up, we bet he’s still wearing the same Star Wars shirt he wore to work every day.

CTAP Online

[irp posts=”6679″ name=”How Is Navigation North Different From Other EdTech Companies?”]

May 2007

Our team rolled out new website administrator tools for Learning Support, helping afterschool program directors keep track of their kids. How many of these kids are old enough to drink today?

Learning Support

May 2008

Two distinct spinoffs from the Venture Communities Portal were developed by Navigation North: Golden Capital Network and Angel Fund Investments. This was one of our few forays outside of the education sector and ended up being a great R&D space for our next LMS.

Golden Capital Network

May 2009

The CTE Pathways system began, connecting high school and community college coursework so students could get a jumpstart on their career aspirations. Meanwhile, we were also expanding the Minnesota Center for College Readiness to include Science and Math sections.

Minnesota Center for College Readiness

[irp posts=”6790″ name=”California’s Blended PD/Curriculum Project Works To Explain Growing Popularity In Other States”]

May 2010

After completing and launching the rebuild of CTE Online, we turned our attention to minor feature additions, such as exporting curriculum in PDF format. Fancy!

CTE Online 2007

CTE Online 2007

CTE Online 2010

CTE Online 2010

CTE Online 2012

CTE Online 2012

CTE Online 2017

CTE Online 2017

May 2011

One of the improvements to existing systems our team completed was the addition of Common Core Standards to Brokers of Expertise.

Brokers Of Expertise

[irp posts=”7979″ name=”Navigation North Named Leading Web Development Agency”]

May 2012

Navigation North held our first workshop for the Smithsonian Learning Lab prototype project, working with local teachers to determine how they use digital resources in the classroom.

Smithsonian Learning Lab Prototype Project

May 2013

We started building the curriculum development tool we now lovingly call Cartographi. There were LMS improvements we wanted to implement over the previous five years, so we forged ahead and did it ourselves!


May 2014

Our team partnered with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology to provide updates to the Learning Registry, along with launching government WordPress websites like My Brother’s Keeper.

Learning Registry

[irp posts=”7049″ name=”4 Reasons Students Love The Smithsonian Learning Lab”]

May 2015

At a pivotal time in the development of the Smithsonian Learning Lab, initial designs were scrapped, and testing continued to ensure the best user experience possible for educators and students. We had no idea how busy the next year would be!

Below is a snapshot from the project’s user testing documentation, with user clicks shown in red:

Multi-Page Click Testing

May 2016

While preparing the Smithsonian Learning Lab for full launch at ISTE the following month, we simultaneously began training a second Navigation North development team.

This is not an actual photo of the team. Our developers are even happier than these guys.

New Development Team

May 2017

This month our Director of Education, Brian Ausland, presented on how California State Parks can use the Smithsonian Learning Lab to provide digital experiences to website visitors at #InterpTech2017.

Thank you for taking this journey with us as we walk down Memory Lane.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see what happens next!

By | 2022-03-14T11:24:23+00:00 May 5th, 2017|