K-12 Dealmaking: HMH Acquires Waggle; National Geographic Launches Pathways; Instructure Gets New CEO

Contributing Writer

In recent dealmaking news, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquires Waggle; EMERITUS completes $40 million series C funding round led by Sequoia India; National Geographic Learning launches new subscription service for high schools called Pathways; FlatWorld unveils customizable textbook subscription service for universities; Infobase acquires credo reference limited; New CEO takes over at Instructure; De Gruyter and Iowa State University sign open access agreement; and Lumen Raises $5 million from Series C Funding Round led by Follett.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Acquires Waggle

Longtime textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced in a news release this month that it has acquired award-winning adaptive learning solution Waggle.

Integrating Waggle’s web-based adaptive learning platform with HMH’s leading core curriculum programs will create effective, classroom-based personalized learning experiences for students across the spectrum of learning needs–those above, on and below grade level.

Waggle provides differentiated math and English language arts instruction for students in grades 2–8 by equipping educators with insights to discover classroom trends and group students by performance, goals and skills. Waggle analyzes student decisions, learning behavior and progress to ensure each learner experiences the right challenge at the right time.

Matthew Mugo Fields, general manager of supplemental and intervention solutions at HMH said Waggle’s platform, which marries adaptivity and teacher-led assignability, will allow HMH to unify the core and supplemental classroom experiences, creating a ” complete, seamlessly integrated solution.”

HMH will continue to offer Waggle as a stand-alone supplemental solution for classrooms, regardless of core program of study. By providing both integrated and stand-alone access, Waggle and HMH will offer educators the option to define and create the right approach for their classrooms and students.

EMERITUS Completes $40 million Series C Funding 

EMERITUS, an ed-tech company working with U.S. and European universities to provide online coursework to working professionals, has raised nearly $40 million in a Series C funding round led by Sequoia India. Existing EMERITUS investor Bertelsmann India participated.

According to a news release, the latest funding round will allow EMERITUS to increase its course offerings in high-demand subject areas such as data science, machine learning, blockchain and cybersecurity and to expand its language offerings to include Portuguese and Mandarin in addition to English and Spanish.

EMERITUS, along with its Singapore-based parent company, Eruditus, is a leader in the $280 billion global professional education market. In the current fiscal year, EMERITUS will enroll 30,000 students from across more than 80 countries in courses delivered in collaboration with university partners such as MIT, Columbia University, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Berkeley, the London Business School and IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Barcelona, Spain.

National Geographic Launches Subscription Service for High Schools

National Geographic Learning announced this month that it will offer a new subscription service for high schools, called Pathways. Available immediately, Pathways will include a curated collection of online educational programs for career and technical education, Advanced Placement, honors and electives.

School districts may purchase Pathways though an annual, per-student fee regardless of how may courses a student uses. This could reduce the cost of learning resources by up to 50 percent, the company said. Furthermore, the service automatically provides updated content, which can help if there are changes to AP courses.

Pathways comes after the company launched Cengage Unlimited, the first all-access subscription service for more than 22,000 higher ed materials, including eBooks, online homework access codes and study guides.

National Geographic Learning is part of Cengage, an education and technology company that services the higher education, K-12, professional, library and workforce training markets worldwide. 

FlatWorld Releases Customizable Textbook 

FlatWorld, a publisher of college learning materials, announced this month a new subscription service in which colleges and universities could select which textbooks they want to subscribe to instead of paying one fee for access to everything.

The Boston-based company said that for the last two years, it had offered a subscription service giving schools access to its entire catalog. While many larger universities appreciated that option, other schools, both big and small, wanted the option to pay a lower rate and subscribe only to select textbooks.

The company piloted a customizable subscription service in 2018 before announcing the new service for 2019. The subscription will be priced at a fixed rate per student and text, and every textbook in a university subscription will include test banks and test generators, PowerPoint slides and lecture notes, instructor manuals and the FlatWorld Homework System.

“This new offering is very much in line with our commitment to providing the most affordable, high-quality textbook solutions on the market,” said Alastair Adam, co-CEO of FlatWorld.

Infobase Acquires Credo Reference Limited

Infobase, a provider of supplemental educational materials such as the World Almanac®, to the school and library markets, has acquired Credo Reference, an award-winning reference and information literacy solutions provider that serves libraries worldwide.

Terms of the deal, which was announced last month, weren’t disclosed.

Mark McDonnell, president and CEO of Infobase Holdings,  called the deal a “significant milestone” for Infobase because it brings a strong name in the reference category under the Infobase umbrella. He said he expects the deal would improve Infobase’s offerings, especially in the academic market.

Credo Reference General Manager Ian Singer said the company “views this acquisition as a chance to reach even more learners and contribute to a strong culture of information literacy extending all the way from middle school through higher education and beyond.”

New CEO takes over at Instructure

Dan Goldsmith has assumed the role of CEO at Instructure, a leading software-as-a-service technology company, according to a news release.

Instructure includes the company Canvas, a learning management system for higher ed and K-12 clients.

“I am delighted to take on the role of CEO of Instructure at a time of great transformation in the education, learning and employee development markets,” said Goldsmith, who started Jan. 1.

“With innovative cloud-based technology and deep domain expertise, Instructure is ideally positioned to enable education and professional communities–from the first day of school to the last day of work,” Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith succeeds Josh Coates, who has assumed the role of executive chairman of the board, also effective Jan. 1.

De Gruyter and Iowa State Strike Open Access Deal

All articles written by authors at Iowa State University will have open access immediately upon publication under a new, three-year, pilot agreement with De Gruyter, an independent academic publisher based in Berlin.

The agreement, which starts in 2019, also allows ISU patrons to access De Gruyter’s “Research Now by De Gruyter” package, which includes all De Gruyter journals that are subscribed to by North American Association of Research Libraries institutions.

Under De Gruyter’s pricing structure, journal subscription prices are adjusted based on the percentage open access articles. Deep discounts are given to ISU authors who publish their articles in one of De Gruyter’s many pure open access journals.

Curtis Brundy, ISU’s associate university librarian for scholarly communication and collections, said the ISU library “actively supports open access publishing by our authors.”

“With this agreement, we will expand our access to De Gruyter’s journals and increase the number of open access materials available from our scholars,” Brundy said.

David Celano, director of sales in the Americas, said De Gruyter hopes to make similar agreements across the country “as we strive toward our ultimate objective of considerably increasing open access content.”

Lumen Raises $5 million in Funding Round With Follett

Print publishing companies are collaborating with open educational resources providers in a new deal.

OER digital courseware provider Lumen Learning recently raised nearly $5 million in a Series C funding round with textbook publisher Follett. Lumen Learning, based in Portland, Ore., first partnered with Follett in 2017.

This latest influx of cash will be used to increase offerings and delivery of the company’s education materials, which are either free or low-cost for higher ed.

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