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McGraw-Hill, Microsoft Embrace Open Learning

Collaboration combines popular software with powerful analytics to promote personalized learning experiences in schools.

McGraw-Hill Education and Microsoft are teaming up to allow educators to develop "compound learning objects" customized to their classroom needs. The announcement highlights the textbook publishing company’s commitment to open learning.

McGraw-Hill defines compound learning objects as "a pedagogically-linked group of reusable digital content and assessment items related to a single learning objective."

The partnership will allow teachers to build these objects through Microsoft Office Mix, a free interactive PowerPoint add-on designed for teachers, powered by analytics and content provided by McGraw-Hill Education.

The publisher is also working with New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering and Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development to discover new and better ways of customizing these objects for individual classroom needs.

"We know that students and educators want learning experiences that are deeply personal, and often this means combining content from multiple sources, including content they have produced themselves," said David Levin, president and chief executive officer of McGraw-Hill Education, in a news release. He later added, "We're committed to becoming the world's foremost learning science company, and we see open technology as a key element of our future."

The company is betting big on the success of these learning objects by reorganizing its development models in order to:

  • Create smaller chunks of content that can be more easily revised, updated, found, reused and assembled to meet changing needs
  • Generate data to support analytics-driven instruction and personalized learning
  • Increase its ability to build repositories of aggregated content that can be deployed nimbly and efficiently

K-12 will receive the first batch of compound learning objects, with higher education soon to follow, according to the release.

This collaboration with Microsoft to promote open learning is only the latest move in the company’s repositioning. McGraw-Hill has been working to morph into a digital content provider for years through efforts like SmartBook, the company’s digital textbook platform.

Textbooks are dead,” the former president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Brian Kibby, said at EDUCAUSE 2014. He said that personalization and adaptive learning techniques are where innovation is happening in the educational publishing industry. By working with Microsoft to deliver these Office Mix-powered objects, the publisher has made no secrets about its direction for the future.

Apr 10 2015