Textbook publishers transform into ‘learning companies’

Textbook publishers like McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson are in the middle of a transformation – and it’s not just a transition to eBook-versions of their familiar products.

Waterhouse described adaptive learning as a ‘sweet spot.’

In a recent interview with eCampus News, Lloyd “Buzz” Waterhouse, CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, predicted that by the end of this year, 38 percent of the company’s products will be digital and only one-third of its offerings will be traditional textbooks.

“That’s a pretty big migration for us from a few years ago,” Waterhouse said. “In about three years, I expect the majority of the company will be digital, and I don’t mean just eBooks. We sell a lot of them, and they’re important, but I don’t believe eBooks are the end game.”

The impact of these changes goes far wider than just a publisher’s bottom line or line of products.

While the giants of the textbook industry have previously dabbled in other educational products, recent years have seen them doing so at an unprecedented rate.

They are no longer primarily involved in just what students are reading. Pearson, for example, has partnered with schools like Howard University and West Virginia University at Parkersburg to provide the infrastructure for entire online degree programs.

Ellen Wagner, executive director of the WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies, called the implications “significant.”

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