The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bull Market in Online Course Management Services

Helping colleges and universities across the country take their academic programs online has become a growth industry. Now, those start-ups are the target for larger companies to snatch up.

John Wiley & Sons started an October buying spree by paying $220 million for Deltak.edu LLC, which develops and supports online degree and certificate programs.

“The acquisition of Deltak will extend Wiley’s global education trajectory into a high-growth segment of the market and bring additional expertise to the organization in such areas as curriculum design, student recruitment services, and next-generation technology solutions,” said Joseph Heider, senior vice president of global education at Wiley, for an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Blackboard, known for its learning management systems for higher education, followed by announcing it would increase its investments into its own online course-development and management services. Blackboard plans to attract clients with an approach that offers more options from which to choose.

“It’s more of an a la carte approach, where [colleges] can pick and choose capabilities they want and not get into this big, comprehensive, long-term commitment where a lot of them are worried about losing institutional control,” said John Kannapell, vice president of the Blackboard online program management department, in an article in Inside Higher Education.

Pearson Higher Education then joined the fray with the purchase of EmbanetCompass for $650 million. EmbanetCompass, created by the 2010 merger of Embanet and Compass Knowledge Group, is the largest player in the online course-management field.

The purchase follows Pearson’s move to launch a free, cloud-based learning-management system called OpenClass in 2012, and after teaming with software firm Knewton to replace its software packages with new ones that adapt to learners.

“As more and more schools face budget cuts, they’re looking to online education as a way to increase access, achievement, and affordability,” Trace Don Kilburn, CEO of Pearson Learning Solutions, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “We see this as a strong area of growth.”

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