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Education Giant Pearson Adapts To Digital Learning

Pearson, the world's largest educational publisher, recognized older students as online learning harbinger.

 8 MOOCs Transforming Education
8 MOOCs Transforming Education
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Schools aren't the only ones grappling with big questions about online learning, flipped classrooms, assessment analytics and open-source alternatives to commercial products. Traditional publishers are making changes, too.

Pearson, the world's largest education publisher, was early to embrace the digital future, according to observers. The company says more than half of its revenues last year came from digital products and service.

Pearson is composed of its global education group of Pearson International, Pearson North America, and Professional; the Financial Times Group, publisher of the Financial Times newspaper and other specialty editorial and research products; and the Penguin Group, an international consumer publisher. Penguin is being merged with Bertelsmann's Random House to create the world's biggest trade book publisher, Penguin Random House, under a joint venture.

[ Looking for free online classes? Read 12 Open Educational Resources: From Khan to MIT. ]

"We've organized internally around three A's -- achievement, access and affordability," Todd Hitchcock, senior VP of online solutions and business development at Pearson, told InformationWeek in a phone interview.

The three A's reflect Pearson's predictions about the market, based on its own research over the last three or four years, he said. Among other things, Pearson saw a changing student profile, especially in higher education, where the average age is now 38.

"The demographic changing," Hitchcock said. "[They] need flexibility … so access becomes more online and blended." Similarly, although Hitchcock isn't sure that massive open online courses (MOOCs) will transform education, they have had the effect of "shining a light on online learning, access and affordability models," he said.

Then again, a technology itself can sometimes spark change.

Take Pearson's eText platform, a database of grade-specific educational content. eText was honored as InformationWeek's "Best Emerging Technology: Enterprise Mobility" last September. eText is now being developed as an overall solution for students, Hitchcock said, adding, "It's an opportunity to rethink the whole ecosystem for the learning."

Pearson isn't alone in noting shifts in the education market. A 2012 Babson Survey of online learning revealed that over 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course during the 2011 fall term, an increase of 570,000 students over the previous year. Based on responses from over 2,800 academic leaders, the survey, "Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States," also found that online learning was critical to the long-term strategies of 69% of chief academic leaders.

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PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/26/2013 | 2:19:17 PM
re: Education Giant Pearson Adapts To Digital Learning
I have commented on
digital learning earlier this month, and feel it is the future of learning for
student globally. DonG«÷t let the article fool you and think the Pearson is
saving the student money by not purchasing the hard copy book, but instead
paying for a pretty steep price access code to participate in the class. I donG«÷t
know what Pearson claims to be affordable about $160 textbook and then an
additional $20-50 for the access code, but in any world that is not cheap for a
book and code that will last 16 weeks. It is no wonder half their revenue has
come form digital sales. Oh and lets not also forget that next semester it will
be new code with the same price, eliminating the saving to the students that
have to purchase used text books because the new price is unaffordable.

Paul Sprague

InformationWeek Contributor
RJ 2013
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RJ 2013,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2013 | 10:12:00 PM
re: Education Giant Pearson Adapts To Digital Learning
In our district Pearson is pushing hard for us to follow the same procurement process for digital as we do for our text books and other products. They know if they get these products into that process it wil stifle innovation and competition. A rep told me that "if they can drag it out long enough some of the start-up competition will no longer exist when the buying actually occurs." The traditional procurement process will only support the big vendors like Pearson and in the end is bad for innovation. Innovation in procurement has to occur or we'll be stuck with doing it the Pearson way forever.
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