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McGraw-Hill to Buy Adaptive-Learning Company

McGraw-Hill Education, one of the largest textbook publishers, announced on Thursday that it would acquire the ALEKS Corporation, a developer of so-called adaptive-learning technology.

The goal of adaptive learning is to create online textbooks that can analyze a student’s reading habits, answers to quizzes, and other details to customize the content that it shows to the student. Several major textbook publishers have embraced the approach in recent years.

Stephen J. Laster, chief digital officer of McGraw-Hill Education, said that the educational-publishing giant had already been working with the ALEKS Corporation for 10 years.

Mr. Laster declined to disclose how much McGraw-Hill was paying for ALEKS, but he said that the acquisition exemplified McGraw-Hill’s larger strategy to “focus on personal and adaptive learning.”

ALEKS’s software monitors a student and then alerts both the student and the professor to topics on which more learning or practice is necessary. The company offers products for behavior science, business, mathematics, and science, but Mr. Laster said McGraw-Hill expected the range of subjects to grow with the acquisition.

“The opportunity to buy ALEKS was really born out of a need … to continue to enhance students’ and teachers’ experience,” Mr. Laster said. McGraw-Hill will “deepen the insights and the information coming out of ALEKS experience to further personalize the student experience.”

The move comes five months after McGraw-Hill Education bought an equity stake in Area9, a Danish adaptive-learning company.

According to a news release, ALEKS’s products will continue to be sold as stand-alone solutions in the short term, but McGraw-Hill intends to eventually integrate ALEKS’s digital platform more deeply into its own offerings.

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