McGraw-Hill to Debut Adaptive E-Book for Students

Source: WSJ, Jan 2013

Expanding upon student learning behavior collected from McGraw-Hill’s existing suite of educational software, the SmartBook promises to adapt textbook material to suit the paces and grasp of individual learners.

All readers essentially see the same textbook as they read for the first five minutes. But as a reader answers review questions placed throughout the chapter, different passages become highlighted to point the reader to where he or she should focus attention.

“It changes what is normally a static product to something that’s individualized to the learner,” said Ulrik Christensen, Chief Executive of Area9, the McGraw-Hill partner that developed the technology behind SmartBook.

The e-book will initially work on computers, as well as tablets using Apple and Android operating systems. It will have full functionality both online and offline.

The company pulls from an “enormous database” of student behavior models that drive the software to chart the most efficient path to learning a subject area, Mr. Christensen said. “Everything that you do is being tracked and it assesses you throughout” the questions and answers in each chapter, he said.

McGraw-Hill’s Mr. Kibby predicted that in 36 months, “what we will see is that we won’t be offering print textbooks” but “dynamic, adaptive, personalized learning environments” instead. The company plans to make the SmartBook product available for about 90 different course areas in the late spring.

The K-12 e-learning market in the U.S. is roughly $5.4 billion currently …

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