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McGraw-Hill Acquires Area9, Developer of Adaptive Learning Technologies for K-12 and Higher Education

Acquisition strengthens McGraw-Hill's leadership in adaptive learning, a technology-driven method of delivering personalized education to improve student performance

NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- McGraw-Hill today announced that it has acquired Area9 Aps, an adaptive learning company, which McGraw-Hill has partnered with to deliver personalized learning experiences through technology since 2007. In January 2013, McGraw-Hill purchased a 20 percent equity stake in Area9; the agreement announced today covers the 80 percent of the equity in Area9 that McGraw-Hill did not already own. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition marks the culmination of a longstanding relationship between the two companies and solidifies McGraw-Hill's position as the leader in adaptive learning, a method of education that helps drive student performance by making learning more personalized and efficient. McGraw-Hill LearnSmart®, the result of the first collaboration between McGraw-Hill and Area9, immediately became the leading adaptive study tool in higher education upon its release in 2009. At the Consumer Electronics Show in 2013, McGraw-Hill expanded the number of products built on the LearnSmart technology with the release of the LearnSmart Advantage™ suite of adaptive learning products, which included SmartBook™, the first-ever adaptive e-book for higher education.

In 2013, LearnSmart surpassed the following milestones as the leading adaptive learning tool in higher education:

  • 3 million total student users since LearnSmart's launch in 2009, and almost 1.5 million users in 2013 alone
  • More than 2 billion questions answered by students using LearnSmart
  • User growth of 45 percent in 2013 compared to 2012

"The new McGraw-Hill is passionate about reimagining learning, and we believe that delivering personalized experiences through adaptive technology is a key ingredient to teaching and learning success," said Buzz Waterhouse, president and CEO of McGraw-Hill. "Area9 has been instrumental to our success in becoming the leader in adaptive learning. This acquisition will allow us to accelerate our development of integrated teaching and learning experiences that help generate results for students and instructors – and which we see as a central element in the future of education in the U.S. and across the world."

Area9 is the second major acquisition that McGraw-Hill has recently made in the area of adaptive learning. In 2013, McGraw-Hill acquired the ALEKS Corporation, a developer of adaptive learning technology for K-12 and higher education targeted toward the subjects of math and chemistry. "These moves are key examples of what we're doing to strengthen our digital capabilities and provide our customers with the most comprehensive solutions in all of the markets we serve," added Waterhouse. "Through our organic growth, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, we are committed to establishing McGraw-Hill as the world's leading digital learning company."

The LearnSmart Advantage suite of adaptive learning products continually assesses students' knowledge and skill levels to design personalized study paths that help students improve in the areas where they need to improve the most. By allowing students to focus their outside-of-class study time on the topics and concepts that are most challenging to them, McGraw-Hill's adaptive solutions have been shown to help students study more efficiently, develop greater proficiency, and earn better grades.

Founded in 2006 by Dr. Ulrik Juul Christensen, Area9 develops technologies that fix the gaps in helping people learn with the goal of finding a better way of delivering training and education. As part of the acquisition, Dr. Christensen will join McGraw-Hill's executive leadership team as Senior Fellow of Digital Learning.

"Personalization is the holy grail of education," said Dr. Christensen. "Through Area9's long relationship with McGraw-Hill, we've developed technologies that have changed the industry and improved lives by making learning more effective and efficient. As we become part of McGraw-Hill, I look forward to continuing our mission to reimagine teaching and learning through technology."

McGraw Hill
McGraw Hill is a leading global education company that partners with millions of educators, learners and professionals around the world. Recognizing their diverse needs, we build trusted content, flexible tools and powerful digital platforms to help them achieve success on their own terms. Through our commitment to equity, accessibility and inclusion, we foster a culture of belonging that respects and reflects the diversity of the communities, learners and educators we serve. McGraw Hill has over 30 offices across North America, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South America, and makes its learning solutions for PreK-12, higher education, professionals and others available in more than 80 languages. Visit us at or find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or X.

Tyler Reed
McGraw Hill
(914) 512-4853