Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 12.32.20More interesting news from adaptive learning technology provider Knewton today, as they announced their latest publisher partnership, this time with Cambridge University Press, and the opening of a new office in London. The partnership will see the Knewton API integrated with the Cambridge LMS platform, which currently serves over 250,000 students and teachers globally. The move enables Cambridge to start incorporating recommendations and analytics into their LMS-based courses.

The deal would seem to cement Knewton’s position as one of the hottest tech partners out there right now for educational publishers. In addition to the Cambridge partnership, which will focus on ELT, Knewton already has partnerships on board with Pearson (for US higher ed), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (for US K12), Macmillan Education (for international ELT), Triumph Learning (for US K12) and Wiley (for international higher ed).

The use of analytics is a tricky area in education. At a conference several years ago, I watched a representative from IBM receive a very frosty reception when he presented an analytics-based tool designed to predict student failure; the tool was based on software used to predict where and when crimes might happen (I think it ended up being a tougher sell than he’d imagined). But at eltjam, we’re very interested in the possibilities that adaptive learning could bring to ELT. If student engagement is the goal — and for many of us it is — then good analytics can be one tool that helps us achieve it.

One of teachers’ biggest bugbears is that publisher-derived ELT content is too generic, too impersonal, too divorced from the realities of students’ lives. A more adaptive approach — one that allowed learners to focus in on their interests, their weaknesses, and their goals — could offer a solution to that. We’re very excited to see how Knewton’s expertise will feed into ELT content, both from Cambridge and Macmillan. As soon as we get to try some of it out, we’ll report back.

Here’s Knewton’s announcement about the CUP partnership.

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