A sampling of education industry news from The Education Economy, a weekly publication of the market research firm Eduventures.com, which conducts research on the pre-K-12, post-secondary, corporate training, and consumer markets worldwide. This copyrighted material is used by permission of Eduventures.com, Inc.
Apex Learning Expands Virtual School Curriculum
Apex Learning Inc., a builder and operator of virtual schools, and American Computer Experience, a provider of technology education for kids 7-18, announced an agreement on March 7 to codevelop online, interactive information technology classes for high school students. Under the terms of the agreement, Apex Learning will add the semester-long IT classes to its catalog of online courses.
Apple Reinforces Presence in K-12 Market
On March 15, Apple announced that it will acquire PowerSchool, Inc., a leading K-12 Web-based student information systems (SIS) provider and online community. Apple will purchase the company for $62 million in stock.
Used in 2,000 schools nationwide, the PowerSchool solution provides administrators, educators, students, and parents with real-time information, assessment tools, and educational resources online. Its SIS offerings include facilitating administrative tasks such as attendance monitoring, transcript tracking, and grading functions. PowerSchool’s online community portal provides parents and students with access to homework assignments, grades, and attendance.
Bigchalk.com Weathers Market Shakeout
Bigchalk.com, a K-12 online education network, closed $43.3 million in its Series B round of funding in early March, apparently surviving the economic shakeout. The funding will be used to boost bigchalk.com’s sales, marketing, and business development efforts and to position the company to make strategic investments and acquisitions.
Launched in January 2000 with a $55 million first round of financing, the company was formed when Infonautics, Inc. and Bell & Howell Company agreed to combine their K-12 education business units. Bigchalk.com offers subscription-based and free learning tools for teachers, parents, and students. The company provides an array of products and services designed to meet the needs of the school community, including professional development for teachers, homework and tutoring assistance for students, and information and resources for parents.
But LearningPays.com Goes Under
LearningPays.com, a provider of educational software designed to connect parents, teachers, and students online, shut down as of March 6. After failing to receive additional funding, the company was unable to fund operations.
Goodbye to Heavy Backpacks?
Palm, a provider of mobile and wireless Internet services and handheld computers, announced on March 20 that it acquired Peanutpress.com, a wholly owned subsidiary of netLibrary that publishes and distributes e-books for handheld computers. Under its new ownership, the name of Peanutpress’s application, Peanut Reader, will be changed to Palm Reader.
“Palm predicts that, before long, lugging around overstuffed backpacks with heavy textbooks will give way to textbook delivery through handheld devices,” said Eduventures.com’s Suzanne Beecher. “Palm also expects universities and test preparatory materials to quickly gravitate to e-book delivery.”
K-12 Public Schools Reduce Technology Spending
According to the 6th edition of Quality Education Data’s Technology Purchasing Forecast 2000-01, U.S. school district spending for instructional technology declined from $6.7 billion in 1998-99 to $5.6 billion in 1999-00. QED, an education research firm and database company, believes the decline partially is due to e-rate discounts replacing regular funding.
Technology expenditures are expected to rise by 4 percent in the next school year to $5.8 billion. QED’s research shows that just 4 percent of technology spending is allocated to staff training.
PR Newswire Press Release
March 23, 2001
Weekly Reader to Get Online Stablemates
WRC Media, an educational media firm that publishes The Weekly Reader and Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, announced on March 28 that it will acquire ChildU, Inc., an online distance learning company that provides 24/7 availability of supplementary curriculum and assessment tools for the K-12 and homeschool markets. ChildU’s “The Learning Odyssey” offers online curriculum supplements, placement tests and ongoing assessments that can be customized for individual students.
WRC Media, an education division of the investment firm of Ripplewood Holdings, LLC, will own five education companies with the acquisition of ChildU and have assets of more than $541 million.
The Education Economy is read by leading education company executives, investors, academics, policy experts, and education leaders around the globe. To subscribe to The Education Economy, register online at www.eduventures.com. Eduventures.com may be reached at 20 Park Plaza #833, Boston, MA 02116; phone 617/426-5622, fax 617/426-5431.