Tag Archives: Knewton

Higher Education Knews: Wiley Acquires Knewton

knewton

Following last week’s big yet long-awaited news of the intended merger between higher education giants Cengage and McGraw-Hill, this week has started with a more surprising announcement that Wiley is acquiring Knewton, for an undisclosed sum.

11 year old Knewton has been a prominent player in the edtech space, raising more than $180m of venture funding.  Recently the company has pivoted to combining its adaptive technology with OER in the Alta platform, with courses costing $39.95 or alternatively $9.95 per month.  This platform addresses the fundamental needs of outcomes and affordability in education, according to Brian Napack, CEO of Wiley and Chief Knerd Brian Kibby.

“Driving outcomes at an affordable price”

This is good news for students and further evidence that the higher education publishing industry is clearly transforming to providing affordable solutions, with lower priced subscription models.  In so doing this also offers a path to transformation and growth for the industry, through digital offerings and new business models.

Presumably Wiley could have licensed the technology from Knewton.  Likewise, Knewton could have operated more freely as an independent company in disrupting the market. Presumably the two parties concluded they can either move faster, or operate at a lower cost, or get a higher mutual commitment, or realise a more attractive financial profile by means of an acquisition rather than a partnership.  This does look like a win-win for the two companies.

In the meantime, all key industry players in higher education publishing have access to good adaptive technology, some in-house (such as McGraw-Hill) and some licensed (such as Wiley pre-transaction).  This move bolsters Wiley’s in-house capabilities. It’s interesting to note that Pearson, who was an investor in Knewton, decided to phase out their technology two years ago.

Both transactions, Cengage-McGraw-Hill and Wiley-Knewton, are good news for students looking for affordable outcomes, and positive steps in the transformation of the higher education publishing industry.  In my view, the broader scope of the unlimited subscription that can be offered by Cengage-McGraw-Hill, coupled with the funding potential that can be untapped through their cost synergy program, would suggest that that transaction has the higher transformative potential to the market of the two deals.  It will be fascinating to track adoptions and usage of the various subscription models and the learner outcomes enabled by those platforms in the coming years to see what’s really working for the learner.

Good luck to Wiley and Knewton in making a success of this deal!

Sanoma’s Partnership with Knewton – the Next Generation in Empowering Teachers & Motivating Students

sanoma-logoknewton Sanoma Learning serves about 10 m pupils and one million teachers in Northern Europe. Our experience in education dates back to 1833 and these days we are known internationally for two reasons. Firstly, for quality: we’re a leading and integral partner in some of the World’s best performing education systems including Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Poland, as well as Sweden. Secondly, we’re innovative and are frontrunners in the digital transformation: of our sales of about € 300 m, about € 50 m are generated from pure-play digital and a further € 100 m from multichannel solutions, making us arguably continental Europe’s biggest ed tech company today.

I believe there are three cornerstones of excellence in education: skilled teachers, motivated pupils, and high-quality learning materials. And I believe that the next generation of learning is personal: by tailoring pedagogy, curriculum, and learning support to the needs of the individual learner we can improve learning outcomes, enhance workflow efficiency, and support engaging learning.

That’s why I’m thrilled about the work we’re doing with Knewton, the global leader in adaptive learning technology with over 7 million students expected on the platform by the end of 2014. Knewton technology uses data to understand how individual students learn. Sanoma Learning products integrated with Knewton will include personalized content recommendations for students and in-depth reporting for teachers.

Knewton technology will allow us to scale personalization across our wide portfolio of course solutions, improving learning experiences for every student. Malmberg in the Netherlands is the first Sanoma company (and the first publisher in Continental Europe!) to integrate with Knewton technology.

Malmberg’s first Knewton-powered course will be a new grammar-specific English Language Teaching module. This module will provide targeted practice for any ELT student looking to focus on critical grammar concepts. Like all Knewton-powered courses, the course will feature interactive reporting dashboards to help teachers to pinpoint struggling learners in need of intervention and engage advanced students with more challenging material.

Malmberg’s instructional experts and Knewton’s adaptive course designers are making great progress in the development and building phases. Students and teachers will pilot the module early next year. Meanwhile, the teams are also in early planning phases for product builds in other subjects. I can’t wait to see these Knewton-powered products come to life. I truly believe they will contribute to better learning!

The collaboration in the Netherlands is just the beginning. We’re looking forward to rolling out Knewton-powered products across Europe, continuing to empower teachers and motivate students with high-quality, cutting-edge learning products.

Designing the Future of Digital Education

Jose Ferreira of Knewton interviewing Hillary Rodham Clinton

Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton interviewing Hillary Rodham Clinton, former US Secretary of State

This week I joined the Knewton Symposium in San Francisco and was a panel speaker on the subject of “Digital Readiness”. We have recently started partnering with Knewton, which I am enthusiastic about since I believe adaptive learning is the next generation. I joined the meeting to make sure I’m up-to-date on the latest thinking and for the networking opportunity.

Great program

The program was a mix of speakers and panel sessions. I especially liked the interesting and provocative speakers:
Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton (“transparency on what drives outcomes”);
Andy Rosen, CEO of Kaplan (“why Knewton will fail” – which emphasized the open dialogue of the symposium);
Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University (I was intrigued by his words about the “rise of the super-faculty” – it sparked my interest in the potential “rise of the super-teacher” enabled by technology in schools).

Also, some of the panel sessions gave food for thought, especially:
Investing in Edtech (I liked the quote by Michael Moe, partner at GSV “the best IRR will be produced by education companies that deliver the best ROE”)
The OER Impact (“80% of materials for university foundation years can be found Open Source”)

It was great to hear the “Big Ideas” of entrepreneur Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever about solving Single-Sign-On and intrapreneur Ben Schrom from Google Classroom about simplifying digital workflows. (It was nice that he cited me and my “killer app of education is the teacher” quote too, a boost for Finnish thinking there :)).

Go Hillary!

From my perspective, the highlight of the meeting was the interview with Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She talked intelligently and engagingly about international affairs in a no-nonsense and straightforward way. Firm but fair. I liked her passion and commitment to education, for example with the “Too small to fail” program, helping to improve the health and well-being of children aged 0-5 years. Her words about making sure that schools are fit for children to attend and treating teachers as professionals appealed to me too. We had a short photo session afterwards, and even though we exchanged only a few words, she was funny and nice and I really liked her. Go for President Hillary!

Main takeaways

The three main takeaways for me from the meeting were:
1. The move to adaptive learning is the next generation. I believe we are right to be investing.
2. It will be of great importance to evidence and improve outcomes and to take a more proactive stance in positioning outcomes in our value proposition. We need to raise our game here. Our Learning Lab starting in September can help us in that regard.
3. It’s good to look and be outside, to be up-to-date with the latest developments and to be connected with talented people in the industry alongside the talent we have at Sanoma Learning.

Thank you Knewton!

It’s always great to be in the USA. I love the optimism and the way they go for it! Thanks to the Knewton team for having arranged a great meeting!