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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Todd Hitchcock, COO of Pearson Embanet (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Apr 10th 2014

Sramana Mitra: Where does Embanet fit into this picture?

Todd Hitchcock: I should build on one other thing before I jump in to answer that question.  Our goal as a company – it’s emblematic of Pearson Embanet – is to ensure that every single product and service that we create is founded on efficacy. Our goal by 2018 is to ensure that every single product and service has measurable outcomes so that we can measure those outcomes and ensure that we’re increasing student performance.

We still do produce books and digital contents that stand alone but if you think about a book by itself, that’s really an input. When a school or university uses or purchases that book, we really have very little ability to impact learning once they start to use that. It could be used in many different ways. We want to move more to the other end of the spectrum where we’re helping the learner, instructor, and the school all the way through the learning process. We’re focusing more on the outputs and the outcomes and that’s really how we’re defining efficacy. Are we effective in the tools that we’re giving? Can we measure that and point that to learning gains, student performance and achievement, program achievement, and ultimately to our partners’ overall achievement? That’s really our strategy.

Where does Pearson Embanet fit in that? It’s the core of what we do. We focus purely on helping partners who want to move online or who are maybe online now and are looking for ways to grow or they may want to take a new program online. What’s interesting about online learning is we’ve been doing this since the late ’90s. It really started out as a technology play. If you had a learning management platform, you could get online. Then, it started to move towards if you have learning management system and some content, then you can get online.

It has changed dramatically over the last 10 years and if you look at just in the US alone, there’re over 4,500 higher education institutions. Of those 4,500, 50% of all the enrollments of students are in full time online. We’ve a dramatic number of students enrolled in a very small number of institutions. Therefore, there are a lot of schools that are very interested in getting online. Students in those schools have a tremendous advantage because they’ve already begun to optimize the system for all of the services required. It’s way more than a technology play. It’s more like an orchestra than a solo individual playing on stage. You have to have a number of players playing and they all have to be playing in tandem.

Sramana Mitra: Let me clarify a few things just so we are on the same page. When you say you’re doing this for partners who want to get online, are we talking about universities and colleges who want to offer online programs? Is that who you call partners?

Todd Hitchcock: That’s exactly right. Pearson operates both in the K-12 space and also in the Higher Education space here in North America. Pearson Embanet focuses specifically on Higher Education space – colleges and universities.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Todd Hitchcock, COO of Pearson Embanet
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