Pearson is not only the largest educational publisher in North America, but the largest publisher in the world. In 2012, Pearson reported total revenue of $9.16 billion. This summer, Pearson and Bertelsmann announced the merger of Penguin and Random House, leaving Pearson to focus its publishing energy on education, a segment it already dominates. According to Pearson’s own site, almost 50% of US schools use Pearson products.
As the leading publisher in this segment, it’s no surprise that Pearson is making huge progress with e-publishing, offering a wide variety of digital products that are designed to benefit both teachers and students and that can be accessed on computers, tablets, and mobile devices. The screenshot below from their “Digital & Mobile” products page shows the broad scope of products Pearson offers across various media:
Pearson is approaching the shift to digital from a comprehensive perspective by developing technological products that penetrate each segment of the educational publishing market identified in this blog’s introductory post: content; instructional support; platforms and administrative tools; and a special segment that includes advanced placement, special education, and English language learner materials. Pearson’s Digital Learning products shows how well technology can merge these four markets into one cohesive product that makes a more seamless learning experience for students and a far easier instructional experience for teachers.
Pearson’s Digital Learning products are featured on their Instructional Resources website (pearsonschool.com), and their product categories shows the breadth of content they cover: Reading/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, World Languages, AP® Honors & Electives, Art, Music, ELL, School Improvement Services, Professional Development, Career & Technical Education, and College & Career Readiness. But Pearson’s varied subject matter doesn’t just account for their success; the innovative digital products they are creating across these content areas prove their dedication to and talent in improving the learning experience.
When searching through Pearson’s Science products, a teacher has a variety of options to enhance the classroom for different students and budgets. Pearson continues to offer innovative, but more affordable, print products, such as their supplemental Oil Spill Case Study, a topical 32-page booklet that can be used alongside any Pearson program for grades 6-12; a class set of 25 bundle with one answer key is $54.97. Their featured iBook Science Textbook, Biology (National Edition), by Kenneth R. Miller, Ph.D. and Joseph S. Levine, Ph.D., is only $14.99 on iTunes.
Pearson also offers the teachers and schools that can afford it the most cutting-edge technology, including their multimedia Interactive Science Curriculum and Online Learning Exchanges. Their Interactive Science programs focus on three pathways of learning: reading, where students can engage the page by writing in their own workbooks; inquiry, where different levels of inquiry are scaffolded; and personalized technology, where students can go online, anytime. Below, a screenshot of the K-5 Interactive Science program’s brochure explains the online components of the curriculum.
These programs aren’t exactly $14.99 on iTunes, though; a kindergarten class set of 25 student editions, digital courseware with a 7-year student license and a single year big book flipchart costs $1,087.47. Their Online Learning Exchanges are just as impressive, but just as expensive; 6-year access to their Earth Science exchange for grades 6-8 costs $32.47 per student, per year.
To address the fact that many teachers can’t afford their products without spending their own money, Pearson regularly links to funding support resources on their site, from information about grants such as Race to the Top to an Educational Funding Blog. [*Blogger’s Note: However, in a fine example of what Seth Godin refers to as “broken” technology, if you attempt to “Ask a Funding Question,” you’ll receive this unfortunate error.] Pearson has dedicated its own energy as a company to research affordable learning as well: In May 2012, the company started the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) to help create and improve low-cost private schools across the world.
Pearson isn’t showing any signs of slowing their e-publishing development; in fact, they are dedicating more money and attention to technology in order to improve their products–and learning–in the future. This November, Pearson will host the virtual conference “A New Frontier: Re-imagining the Next Generation of Education 2013.” At the end of this past July, Pearson announced an edtech partnership with 1776, “an incubator platform based in Washington, D.C.” Co-founder of 1776 Evan Burfield explains the implications the partnership has on the future of America’s education system and the companies that support it:
“America’s education system is at a crossroads and a forward-thinking approach is needed to solve many challenges, Pearson is using technology to invent new ways of learning; and by working with organizations like 1776 and our startups, Pearson’s experts not only provide insights around data and technical integration strategies, they can advise startups on effectively penetrating and scaling in the education market.”
Pearson’s broad coverage of content makes them an easy force to dominate the educational publishing market, but their shift from print-to-digital shows a conscientious effort to enhance the student’s and teacher’s experience. As the massive force it is in the educational publishing industry, it’s no surprise that Pearson is making incredible digital advancements across all their products, but the way they’ve done it reveals that Pearson is concerned about more than just turning a profit, but with continuously improving the learning experience and, true to their slogan, always learning as a company.