Pearcing through digital education

By Lu Na
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 28, 2012
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On May 24-25, the CHINICT (Tech Stars Meet In China) conference took place in Beijing, attracting dozens of business leaders from many prestigious companies. Among them we found Karl Engkvist, Senior Vice President of Pearson Education Asia Pacific Business Development. After the conference, he took the time to sit down with

Karl Engkvist, Senior Vice President of Asia Pacific Business Development 

As one of the largest education groups in the world, Pearson Education can boast a number of leading publishing imprints such as Prentice Hall and Addison Wesley. The group has cooperated with many renowned Chinese publishers and has come out with a series of best-selling English teaching books, including the likes of New Concept, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and Active English.

Nowadays, more and more education companies are putting their focus on new technologies, digital and online education, in keeping with the rapid development of people's living and studying habits.

"The biggest thing technology does is helping to tailor the learning process to the needs of the individual. Technology can really adapt the teaching material's content for students to get the information they need when they need it," Engkvist explained, "So by personalizing the learning experience, it makes everyone more successful as a learner and that precisely is our real priority: to create successful students."

A professional education group with over 100 years of history, Pearson sees it as a priority to strengthen student engagement and with that enhance students' results.

"Student engagement is one of the key areas for Pearson to focus on. The way we do that is we present students with the right content at the right time," Engkvist said.

He explained how one of Pearson's online methods creates a social learning envrionment more or less similar to that of Facebook.

"People are usually better at studying in groups than they are at studying by themselves. Group sessions are simply much more effective. Therefore we are currently developing technologies that will allow small groups of people to come together in study groups in order to motivate and encourage one another. That's one way to improve student engagement," Engkvist believed.

Like any other large education group in recent years, Pearson Education has also absorbed digital education technology and has published a tidy amount of digital studying systems. Those sytems include Versant, a way to test your English speaking skills, MyMathLab and MyStatsLab, featuring comprehensive online education as well as an interactive teaching/learning system, and Mastering Platform, a college-level homework assessment system.

"Digital education is definitely Pearson's current focal point. Ten years ago, we practically did nothing digitally. Today however, a rough 30 percent of our business has gone digital. So just over the short span of 10 years, the digital field has expanded dramatically. And I think that trend will continue for the next decade to come," Engkvist said.

Pearson has worked with mobile phone APPs and has created numerous websites to help improve the ability of different platforms to provide students with feedback as well as to help teachers develop and refine their methods by using digital technology.

In the fierce competition of the educational market, Pearson has to face rivals in the West as well as in China. In order to tackle the latter, the group has spent US$294 million on a merger with Global Education & Technology Group Ltd., mainly to enlarge its education and test training business in China.

Regarding Pearson's unique study abroad program, Engkvist stated the following: "We're expanding our business in many different ways. We now also own some schools, which enable us to put into practice some of the recently developed techniques in the field of global education. We are also setting up a study abroad program, because many of our students wish to go abroad. This way we can assist them from the very beginning to the very end. But bear in mind that this aspect of our business really focuses on people aged 16 to 22."

In addition, Pearson has also extended the number of its business cooperators. For example, it has started cooperating with the Beijing government as to provide a learning management system that will strengthen students' engagement as well as encourage their parents to get more involved.

"The project we are working on is aimed at providing a learning management system. It provides a way to develop a learning community that teachers can turn to when in need of help from their peers. For students, this community can be of assistance at school and at home; they can have more access to the information they need and at the same time their parents can get involved as well. This way parents can see what their children are doing and help them out a little when they need it. The project is currently being tested in some pilot schools across Beijing City," Engkvist said. He also mentioned that if the project turns out to be a success, it will be accessible to all students in Beijing's public schools.

Established by Samuel Pearson in 1724, Pearson Education Group is one of the biggest international educational publishing and technology companies. It provides textbooks and other educational materials, such as multimedia learning tools.


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