Pearson measures up for a future focused on hi-tech learning

'Financial Times' owner looks to make digital and education 70 per cent of sales by 2015

The education group Pearson will today give more clues to its future in tablets, not textbooks, as it sets out a strategy to let schools and students more closely measure its performance – and theirs.

John Fallon, the chief executive of the Financial Times owner, is introducing an "efficacy framework", which by 2018 will report the effectiveness of its biggest courses and learning aids with the same transparency as it files financial accounts.

"It will vary business by business, product by product, country to country but for everyone there will need to be an externally verifiable measure," Mr Fallon said. At the same time, the company will give up investing in classroom tools where it cannot closely measure the outcomes.

The move doesn't mean the death knell for classroom textbooks, but there will be far fewer of them from the company, which has already hived off Penguin into a joint venture with Random House. Mr Fallon is going on a recruitment drive for software engineers, not editors, as he aims to push digital and education services to 70 per cent of group sales by 2015, up from around half today.

"What makes this much more doable now than it has ever been before is the application of technology has the capacity to transform the productivity of education around the world," he said.

Mr Fallon has introduced a raft of changes since January when he succeeded Dame Marjorie Scardino, the FTSE 100's first female boss, as chief executive. She chose an education focus for the conglomerate, whose assets included stakes in the satellite giant BSkyB and Madame Tussauds.

Now Pearson runs universities in South Africa, language schools in China and a "school in a box" system that is sold in Brazil. Education spending is second only to healthcare spending in many markets. It accounts for 13 per cent of disposable income in China. Mr Fallon's overhaul extends to staff pay, where there will be targets linked to student recruitment, success levels and career advancement.

Instead of publishing a textbook to fit a new curriculum every five years, going digital means Pearson can update its materials continually.

"As they work increasingly online, you can provide tools for the teacher and collect data all the time so you can improve and inform learning as you go. In the same way, we can use that data to improve our products as we go," Mr Fallon added.

Pearson has several million people learning English at any one time. Using essays or the results of spoken exercises, it believes it can track and even forecast performance.

"We can predict after a month of study with a high degree of accuracy which students are most likely to drop out or fail to achieve their objectives. That is incredibly powerful because you can intervene earlier to make them more likely to be successful."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas