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Yet Another Mix of Tech and Media: EduTone Buys Global Grid for Learning

A new deal between Cambridge University Press and education technology vendor EduTone is the latest to blend access control infrastructure with actual digital media. California-based EduTone is purchasing the Press' UK-based Global Grid for Learning, a digital content aggregation business. EduTone had been including GGfL as demo offering within its myETbundle, a suite of education-specific third-party applications and resources.

GGfL boasts a million digital learning resources from 40 providers. The repository, launched in 2007, is a subscription-based library that contains video, audio, images, interactive activities, and documents. GGfL has acted as a licensing agent and broker for publishers that want to expand their presence in the K-12 and higher education markets.

EduTone, which currently has a presence in the United States and Australia, has acquired all of the shares of GGfL, and the publisher has taken a minority interest in EduTone. Neither company disclosed the terms of the deal. EduTone said in a statement that it intends to keep GGfL as a wholly owned subsidiary, which will act as EduTone's distributor in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The company said it plans to integrate GGfL with its EduTone Xchange platform. Xchange is an identity management system that acts as an on-demand hub through which software providers can deliver their free and fee products to education customers, who, in turn, use the hub for single-sign-on access. Versions of Xchange have been released specifically for mobile platforms and the Google Apps Marketplace.

One direction the new integration might go is to create global and regional content marketplaces that will be marketed and sold through EduTone's distribution partners.

Lead Analyst Kate Worlock with Outsell, which monitors information trends, said this deal, along with the ones involving Blackboard this summer, portend a wave of sales of education content companies to technology providers. In July the learning management system company announced partnerships with publishers Wiley, Macmillan, Cengage Learning, and Pearson.

As Worlock noted in a memo about the EduTone announcement, "Content providers in the education space running services like GGfL will inevitably find themselves in a position where the only way to allow the business to develop further and fulfill its potential is by letting it to go another business with a stronger technology footprint. These technologies could be developed in-house, but the investment required for a strategy of this sort would be such that only the largest players in the market could hope to go in this direction."

That sensibility is echoed by Cambridge Press' CEO Stephen Bourne, who stated, "The Press is proud to have pioneered Global Grid for Learning, and we believe that EduTone has the ideal technology base and management focus to accelerate and strengthen its presence in school markets around the world."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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