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McGraw-Hill Education establishes its software status with GFA deal

Leading education publishing house, McGraw-Hill Education, has partnered with Arizona State’s Global Freshman Academy to offer its newly developed adaptive learning software that will provide MOOC students with a personalised learning experience.

The software gives personalised instruction based on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. Photo: mheducation.com

Over 17,800 students have signed up for the College Algebra and Problem Solving class from 186 countries

GFA will use the McGraw-Hill Education software, ALEKS, in a College Algebra and Problem Solving course showing the company’s development beyond its rank as a textbook provider.

Targeting K-20 students, the software gives personalised instruction based on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. The GFA deal marks the first time the adaptive software has been used in a MOOC format.

“ALEKS helps us take one of the most daunting classes – college math – and personalise it to meet students where they are and help them steadily master the concepts critical to their ultimate success,” said Adrian Sannier, chief academic technology officer for EdPlus at ASU.

“In the last three years we’ve built a very distinct software team, almost 500 people, we’re spending about $180m a year on building software

The Global Freshman Academy, established last year, is a free MOOC offered on the edXplatform. Students can pay $49 if they wish to receive a verified certificate or a higher fee to receive ASU credits and transcript at the end of the course.

So far, over 17,800 students have signed up for the College Algebra and Problem Solving class from 186 countries.

Speaking at ASU’s GSV summit in San Diego last week, David Levin, CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, said partnering with the Global Freshman Academy helps to address the problem of access to higher education.

“It offers an alternative way to begin the first year of college at a student’s own pace and own price. It is designed to allow learners to earn university credit, simply and with little risk,” he said.

“ALEKS helps us take one of the most daunting classes – college math – and personalise it to meet students where they are”

McGraw-Hill Education has been in operation for more than 100 years as an education publisher, but over the last few years, has established its online arm, driven by the focus to improve educational outcomes.

“In the last three years we’ve built a very distinct software team, almost 500 people, we’re spending about $180m a year on building software and we’re doing that in a way a tech firm would build it as opposed to a publisher,” Levin told The PIE News.

Moving away from the traditional publishing model, Levin said the company wanted to make the software available independently from its own content.

“You can access our software and do entirely your own content through it,” he said.

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