In a world of massive open online courses (MOOCs), eReaders, and open educational resources, it’s no longer sufficient to just offer textbooks.

“You’ll know notice there are no textbooks here,” Livingston later said to another staffer, swinging an arm out to purvey the landscape of computer monitors. “That’s because this is not a textbook event. This is a McGraw-Hill event.”

Government in Action is just one of the several pieces of software McGraw-Hill now offers to college educators.

Introduced earlier this year at South by Southwest Edu and more widely rolled out this fall, the game, in which students assume the role of a congress member and compete for political capital, has been a hit with students and educators, said Matthew Busbridge, a director of products and markets at McGraw-Hill.

Gaming in education is nothing new – the computer game The Oregon Trail has been teaching students about the horrors of dysentery since the 1970s, with a particular explosion of popularity in the early nineties. This sort of software, however, has been mostly confined to K-12 classrooms.

“But we’ve found that there’s a huge gaming community among college instructors teaching American government,” Busbridge said. “A lot of them have been asking for something like this for a long time.”

Other offerings previewed at the event included ALEKS, an online math program that uses artificial intelligence to ensure students understand material; LearnSmart, an adaptive learning platform that “pinpoints” the exact areas of study a particular student is most likely to forget; and SmartBook, a selection of McGraw-Hill textbooks that have been converted into eTextbooks loaded with adaptive learning quizzes and other content.


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