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McGraw-Hill Takes Important Step in Open Technology, Enabling Educators to Build Personalized Learning Experiences

Educators will be able to develop their own "compound learning objects" through Office Mix beginning this fall; Company teams with New York University to explore adaptive possibilities

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., April 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- (ASU GSV Summit) – Learning technology became more accessible and personal today as McGraw-Hill announced a commitment to open technology standards that will lower barriers to integration and allow anyone to build personalized learning experiences that integrate with the company's technologies. The company announced Microsoft Corp. as its first open technology provider in a collaboration that will enable educators to build their own "compound learning objects" through Microsoft Office Mix and seamlessly integrate them into McGraw-Hill's learning platforms. Through this vision, educators, students and developers are able to personalize and enhance McGraw-Hill's courseware by creating and combining content that leverages the power of the company's adaptive and analytics platforms.

McGraw-Hill's embrace of open learning represents one of the biggest steps yet in the company's transition from a publisher to a learning science company delivering intelligent platforms and services alongside content and results-focused course design. The shift supports the increasing demands of educators and students to combine learning elements from multiple sources to create learning experiences that are distinctive, personalized and improve results.

"We know that students and educators want learning experiences that are deeply personal, and often this means combining content from multiple sources, including content they have produced themselves," said David Levin, president and chief executive officer of McGraw-Hill. "No two learners or educators have the exact same set of needs. Developing our adaptive technology and platforms in a way that facilitates a digital ecosystem is essential to improving results, and it's something we take as our responsibility. We're committed to becoming the world's foremost learning science company, and we see open technology as a key element of our future."

Defining McGraw-Hill's vision for "open learning"

Open learning environments exist with the expectation that educators and students will integrate, mash-up or extend content to make the learning experience more personal. Open learning systems are better able to meet the diverse needs of learners and also allow for creative experimentation—all while keeping data private and secure.

As part of this vision, McGraw-Hill will provide analytics to support student achievement and a framework for keeping educators at the center of the learning process. Enabling the company's move toward open is a commitment to the learning technology standards developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a nonprofit organization that is one of the leading bodies in setting technology guidelines for the learning community.

The announcement extends McGraw-Hill's existing commitment to open standards. The company's Engrade platform currently integrates with over 40 different partners, with some K-12 districts using the platform with content sourced from McGraw-Hill and others. Additionally, MH Campus relies on open standards to allow educators and students to use McGraw-Hill products in conjunction with most major learning management systems in the higher education market.

Overview of "compound learning objects" strategy and details on Microsoft collaboration

A key component of McGraw-Hill's relationship with Microsoft is the ability of educators to develop compound learning objects through Office Mix, a media-rich extension of Microsoft PowerPoint that is free to the education community, and combine them with McGraw-Hill content and technology. A compound learning object is a pedagogically-linked group of reusable digital content and assessment items related to a single learning objective. The components of a learning object are designed to work together to enable students to master learning objectives and supports educators as they assess students' mastery of learning objectives.

"Microsoft and McGraw-Hill share a vision for education in which content is modular, personalized, media-rich and delivered across platforms. Our solutions are focused on improving student outcomes while increasing educator productivity," said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education at Microsoft. "We look forward to our collaboration with McGraw-Hill as both companies embrace open standards and provide educators with opportunities to make learning more personal and more effective."

McGraw-Hill plans to launch this new capability beginning in the fall of 2015 with a library of compound learning object available to educators. Compound learning objects will serve as the basis for all of the company's K-12 products going forward starting next year, with its higher education portfolio soon to follow. McGraw-Hill is reorganizing its development models around learning objects in order to:

  • Create smaller chunks of content that can be more easily revised, updated, found, reused and assembled to meet changing needs
  • Generate data to support analytics-driven instruction and personalized learning
  • Increase its ability to build repositories of aggregated content that can be deployed nimbly and efficiently

"We don't see the learning ecosystem just in terms of what we bring to the table. In the new learning ecosystem, we all contribute what we do best in service of learners and educators," said Stephen Laster, chief digital officer of McGraw-Hill. "The education landscape is constantly evolving, but one thing we can predict is the continued focus on authentic digital products used to achieve learning outcomes. Compound learning objects are our path to this goal."

McGraw-Hill is also working with the New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering and Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development to explore the adaptive possibilities around these learning objects, providing an even greater degree of personalization.

"When teachers and students are given the chance to engage with compound objects in adaptive learning environments, they personalize how and what they learn, resulting in active experiences shown to deliver superior outcomes," said Robert N. Ubell, vice dean of online learning at New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering.

McGraw-Hill at the ASU+GSV Summit

CEO David Levin will speak about McGraw-Hill's commitment to open at the ASU+GSV Summit on Wednesday, April 8 at 2:30 p.m. MST in Scottsdale, Ariz. The session, entitled "The Future Will Be Different. Here's How," will discuss the key trends shaping education and the implications of "open" on the company's future.

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 Twitter.

Tyler Reed
McGraw Hill
(914) 512-4853