McGraw-Hill Education announced plans to make its LearnSmart adaptive learning program available directly to students in time for fall 2012 classes. The plan, an effort to open new revenue streams for the company, is the first time MHE has marketed and sold technology directly to students.
“Making these study tools available directly to students—and their parents who want to help them succeed—signals a new era for our business as we work to ensure that more students are getting the most out of their college education,” Brian Kibby, president, McGraw-Hill Education, said in a press release.
Use of LearnSmart has grown to more than 40 introductory courses since it was introduced in 2007, with MHE reporting more than 800,000 students use it to answer questions each day. But many college store professionals view publishers bypassing them in favor of selling directly to students as a threat instead of just “good business” on the part of the publisher, according to Mark Nelson, chief information officer of NACS and vice president of NACS Media Solutions.
“On one level, it is a threat, but if stores were providing sufficient value to publishers, particularly on the digital side, the publishers would have no need to go around the stores,” he said. “Stores have good mechanisms when it comes to print, but their mechanisms for handling new business models and technologies are inadequate.”
Another issue is that MHE plans to continue to sell the product in campus stores as part of the McGraw-Hill Connect online course-management platform, which combines digital learning with class materials. But rather than a call to arms, Nelson sees the news as an opportunity for stores to work with publishers to define better solutions.
“Publishers themselves would be stronger working with us,” he said. “If stores want it to stop, then they must more effectively demonstrate value. Complaining or continuing to do things the way they have always done them or resisting change does not do a whole lot to get the publishers to alter their practices.”