QuickWire: Companies Vie for Notice as Educause Conference Opens

As the campus-technology organization Educause opened its annual conference on Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif., companies in what marketers refer to as “the ed-tech space” launched salvos of competing announcements. Among them:

Blackboard said its flagship learning-management system now incorporates an “integrated virtual classroom” that lets instructors take advantage of several Web-conferencing tools, including video recording, instant messaging, and voice-based discussion boards. The company also said it had updated its mobile app and created its own research-and-development operation, which it’s calling Blackboard Labs.

McGraw-Hill Education unveiled an online mathematics program that it said was “the first adaptive, open-response placement and remediation tool for higher education.” The program—called Aleks Placement, Preparation, and Learning—is meant “to quickly and accurately assess students’ knowledge to place them in the college math course best suited to position them for success.” McGraw-Hill Education acquired the software developer Aleks in June.

Oracle said new assessment and enrollment features in its PeopleSoft product would help colleges manage enrollment in academic programs more effectively, and would help students “select the best classes, in the right sequence, to meet their academic goals in as short a time as possible.” The company said the new features would be added through PeopleSoft’s “continuous-delivery module,” which is intended to help colleges “avoid disruptive major upgrades by delivering periodic application bundles that provide new functionality.”

Pearson said it had created partnerships with three “influential ed-tech ecosystem players” in Boston—Exponential TechSpace, an “entrepreneurship campus”; LearnLaunch, which offers regional ed-tech programs and events; and LearnLaunchX, an ed-tech accelerator that offers start-up companies space, money, and mentors.

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