Pearson has acquired Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based learning assessment system developed by two Harvard professors, for an undisclosed sum.

Learning Catalytics’ tools for the interactive classroom were developed and tested at Harvard. Faculty can ask open-ended or critical thinking questions, and students answer on a tablet, laptop, or mobile device.

01-deliver-81b8e21615f4e3449fc223655135e6a6This helps professors determine which areas require further explanation, so they can automatically group students for more in-depth problem solving. Professors can understand students performance in real-time — even while lecturing.

The news was announced in a company blog post today, with Learning Catalytics’ Eric Mazur citing Pearson’s “global reach” as an attractive quality. According to its website, Learning Catalytics won’t be shut down — it will still be available to current and new customers.

Paul Corey, Pearson’s higher education president, said Lukoff will continue to develop the product in accordance with the company’s product roadmap. In an interview, Corey said he was impressed by Learning Catalytics’ formative assessment platforms, which are “integral to Pearson and online learning growth.”

“”We have no imminent plans to change the brand of the standalone product,” Corey confirmed. But Pearson’s MyLab and Mastering products will be enhanced by Learning Catalytics’ capabilities.

Pearson claims to be the leading learning company in the world; it’s certainly one of the largest and most powerful. But it has been accused of failing to innovate at the pace of the new crop of ed-tech startups. To stay current, the company launched an accelerator program, and makes strategic acquisitions.

The strategy doesn’t always work; as we reported, Pearson-backed Alleyoop shut down in March. 

Learning Catalytics cofounders Mazur and Gary King will continue to consult for Pearson and the third, Brian Lukoff, will join Pearson’s engineering team.

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