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6/21/2013
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McGraw-Hill Education Buys ALEKS Adaptive Learning Software

ALEKS math software employs AI techniques for use in college placement assessments as well as K-12 education.

12 Open Educational Resources: From Khan to MIT
12 Open Educational Resources: From Khan to MIT
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McGraw-Hill Education is strengthening its adaptive learning offerings by acquiring ALEKS, the maker of software that assesses students' understanding of math concepts and then offers lessons to fill in the gaps.

The ALEKS Corp. assessment and learning technologies were originally developed by a team of cognitive scientists, mathematicians and software engineers at the University of California, Irvine, with major funding from the National Science Foundation. Its Web-based software uses assessment based on artificial intelligence techniques and a theory of how math concepts are related to each other so that understanding of one implies understanding of prerequisite concepts, which the company refers to as "knowledge spaces."

ALEKS has become popular as a tool for college placement assessments as well as K-12 education. ALEKS says the software is in use in more than 100 math, science and business courses in both K-12 and higher education.

[ Learning how we learn: Lumosity's Unique Big Data Set Feeds Brain Research. ]

McGraw-Hill Education, a spinoff of the well-known publishing company, is a digital learning firm that aims to be the leading provider of adaptive learning technologies. In March, McGraw-Hill completed the sale of McGraw-Hill Education to investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management for $2.4 billion in cash.

This is McGraw Hill Education's first acquisition as an independent company, but in January it secured an equity stake in Area9, a firm based in Denmark that offers the LearnSmart Advantage adaptive learning suite, including the SmartBook e-book technology.

McGraw-Hill Education said it will continue to sell ALEKS as a standalone solution over the near term, but the company plans deeper integration between ALEKS and its content and digital platforms.

Follow David F. Carr at @davidfcarr or Google+, along with @IWKEducation.

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