Pearson ,the world’s largest education company, has taken a new direction in its business strategy. A few days ago he sold his two huge media companies: the Financial Times for 1.3 billion dollars and The Economist for 730 million. Many wonder what Pearson will do with those extra $ 2 billion of income. The company already gave the answer: they will invest in education.
The decision justified: “We have decided to focus all our business on our greatest opportunity: helping people to progress through education … the Pearson Board is clear that this requires our absolute attention“.
It is a sign of a new world: it seems to be more profitable to invest “from below”, influencing the formation of billions of people, than “above”, influencing world politics with large media. If education is the future, Pearson wants to be sure to control it.
Its strategy advances towards an increasing expansion of the educational market. Even before these sales, it was the largest education company in the world. Its competitors have to be looked for in other leagues: the large textbook publishers (which are lagging behind) or the large technology companies that are entering the educational business, such as Google or Apple.
From being a large publishing company, it took its biggest strategic step in 2000, when it bought the largest US standardized testing company for 2.5 trillion dollars. The gigantic educational transformation commanded by the No Child Left Behind initiative made the exam industry grow in that country and Pearson took over a juicy market.
But the exams are only a strategic piece in a complex and dynamic mechanics. Pearson is everywhere:
-It is the largest textbook company in the world, although it is moving decisively in the digitization of digital educational content . Its strategic partnership with Apple and Microsoft has brought millions of tablets to schools loaded with a digital curriculum for students.
– Your partnership with Knewton , the world’s largest adaptive learning platform, is the spearhead of the customization of teaching through algorithms.
– She owns Powershool , the largest learning management system, with more than 40 million users and 50% of the schools in the United States.
He created MyLab and Mastering , one of the most successful platforms (especially in mathematics) of adaptive higher education learning, with more than 11 million users that control their learning with daily tasks, tutorials and assessments.
-It is a member of the Arizona State University , the largest university of completely online degrees in the United States.
– Administer billions of multiple choice exams per year (so many that you can not record the exact amount) and 111 million open exams (essays).
– Won tenders to administer the OECD PISA test in 2015 and 2018 in some 70 countries around the world.
– He is in charge of numerous teacher evaluations , with class filming and peer reviews, a methodology that brought much controversy in the state of New York .
-He owns hundreds of schools, from the chain of Omega private schools in African countries, where you pay daily for learning , to the Charter Connections Academy , online schools in the United States.
-He has invested more than 2 billion dollars in adult education with the CTI chain of computer learning in South Africa, Wall Street English, a large business school in China and English teaching in Brazil.
-Bought Cogmed , one of the most famous memory training programs for people with attention disorder, created by the Swedish Torkel Klingberg.
-In Brazil, she owns several “ensino systems” such as COC, Dom Bosco, Pueri Domus and NAME, which appear with a prominent place in the list of their projects, pointing out the importance of the emerging Brazilian market in education.
These are just some of Pearson’s diverse and almost countless initiatives and products. Its secret is to have appropriated the axes of education: the curriculum and the evaluation. Master what is taught and what is learned. “If you can measure it you can control the result” seems to be Pearson’s motto. The company that literally measures everything in education can try everything and know what impact it gets.
Proof of this is one of its most innovative initiatives: Revel . Pearson presents Revel as “exactly what you wanted” (see the video ” Exactly what you wanted “). It is an immersive platform where all the contents “come to life”. Revel is the replacement of textbooks for animations, videos, social networks, real-time challenges and multiple options to “reimagine learning”. Revel proposes to “read a little and do a little” all the time to maintain the constant enthusiasm of the new.
To get an idea of what’s coming, we recommend seeing your research and innovation network . The use of analytics for adaptive learning is at the center of its agenda, with the development of Artificial Intelligence to correct trials and create massive systems of personalization of teaching with qualitative exams.
This interview with Don Kilburn , his president in the United States, goes further and shows how Pearson thinks about the future of education. There it is observed that the center of the educational universe is in control of the data: nobody like Pearson has so much information about how students learn on this planet. What a single company will do with that information is something we should all ask ourselves.