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Pearson eyes partnership with more educational institutions

By Wang Zhuoqiong | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-06 10:01
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Pearson Plc is focusing on partnering with China's education institutions by providing content services after selling its learning centers in China as part of the group's global objective to simplify its business portfolio, according to its top executive.

John Fallon, CEO of Pearson, in an interview with China Daily, said that demand for learning English in China is huge. The company will continue to provide world-leading courseware, assessment and learning technology to Chinese consumers by "empowering teaching and learning institutions and universities, rather than running our own schools".

Part of its key transformation is to digitalize its learning content, and China is a great example of that.

"China is the most dynamic and exciting digital place in the world. The chance to reach people any time and anywhere with digital resources is very significant. You can build a learning platform virtually so quickly rather than do it physically," said Fallon.

Pearson and Microsoft Research Asia jointly launched Longman English+, an English language learning application, last year. On Jan 31, the two had signed a three-year strategic partnership agreement.

The application, which integrates Pearson's Longman Welcome to English curriculum and Microsoft's artificial intelligence technologies, is a WeChat-based and AI-powered English language interactive learning application created to provide students with a personalized learning experience.

Adopted by more than 100 leading primary schools, Longman Welcome To English has helped over 200,000 primary school students in China to improve their English skills within the past decade.

"Longman English+ will provide a synchronized learning environment from offline classroom studies to online in-class learning, mobile solutions and social media through live tutoring," said Joe Lam, Pearson's managing director in China.

Lam said the application is free to students and teachers to improve their learning outcomes. By collecting data from the application, Pearson can better understand users' feedback and tailor products for different users.

In China, by the end of 2016, online education users reached 138 million. Of them, 97.98 million used their mobile phones to access online education services, up 84.8 percent from 2015, according to a report released last August by the China Internet Network Information Center.

Pearson Plc last year agreed to sell Wall Street English to a consortium consisting of funds affiliated with Baring Private Equity Asia and CITIC Capital.

The transaction is expected to generate gross cash to Pearson of around $300 million.

Last August, Pearson sold Global Education (GEDU) to Puxin Education. The deal is expected to generate gross earnings of $80 million.

Fallon told China Daily that a lot of former competitors of their operations in China have approached them after the selling of WSE to seek possible partnerships in terms of learning and teaching content.

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