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Pearson To Acquire eCollege

Pearson said this week that it plans to acquire eCollege, an online distance education provider. The deal will cost Pearson $477 million net, including the agreed $41 million sale of eCollege's Datamark division to a group of investors. The acquisition is expected to take place next quarter and has not yet been approved by shareholders.

eCollege works with colleges and universities to create and run various education programs, including professional development, degree programs, certificate programs, etc. The company currently supports about 180 institutions of higher education, including Eastern Michigan University, Texas A&M University at Commerce, and others, serving a total of about 1.2 million students (2006 figures). Some of its services include assessment, virtual campuses, retention monitoring, course development, course management, instructional design, and faculty training.

So what's the attraction for Pearson?

According tot he company, "This acquisition extends Pearson's position as the world's leading education company and supports its goals of building its digital and international education businesses. eCollege is a pioneer in online distance learning, both in the postsecondary and in the K-12 virtual schools segment, and it is the industry leader in the fast-growing career college segment in the [United States]. Pearson is a pioneer in the use of technology to improve learning, with leading positions in digital learning materials, student information systems, online testing, test scoring and homework and formative assessment. In 2006, Pearson generated more than $1 [billion] of sales from these digital learning products and services."

eCollege generated about $52 million in 2006. Pearson, in a prepared statement, said its scale and reach will enable it to extend eCollege's reach around the world. Pearson operates in 55 countries and has generated about $1.6 billion in sales outside the United States. Meanwhile, eCollege is also developing an international "and fully multi-lingual" e-learning platform, according to Pearson.

Pearson also cited enhanced value for customers shared by the two companies and a savings in overhead when the companies combine as factors for the purchase.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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