Pearson Tries Out the Tablet

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I've been focusing the last couple of weeks on exploring Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's algebra iPad pilot program, but it's worth noting that they're not the only ones testing the waters.

Pearson Education, Inc. is piloting a similar program in Virginia with social studies curriculum, according to an article in the Boston Globe.

Clearly, it's in the best interest of publishing companies to stay on the forefront of technological innovations as they occur. There's a lot of money at stake.

The size of the educational market justifies significant outlays for such experimentation. The “educational materials’’ market was worth $8.1 billion in revenue in 2009, according to Simba Information, a media market research firm in Stamford, Conn. Pearson, which sells materials for levels from pre-kindergarten through college, is the largest educational publisher in the world, with global education revenues of $5.9 billion in 2009. Houghton Mifflin, which concentrates on the pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade market, had 2009 revenues of $1.7 billion.

The big prevailing question is whether a new device will continue to inspire kids to learn after the shine has worn off.

“Our interest is smarter books that keep kids engaged,’’ said Peter Cohen, Pearson’s chief executive for curriculum. “Is learning different, better, on the iPad? That’s what we’re looking at. If it’s not the right form factor, we’ll keep looking.’’

My guess is that with the expected flood of new tablets hitting the market, that question won't be resolved for a while yet.