Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Follett acquires higher ed tech firm BetterKnow

Is the announced acquisition of BetterKnow a sign of innovation in the Follett higher education group? Under new CEO Mary Lee Schneider the company has made few announcements since she moved from the board to the CEO role but this could be an indication that Follett is committed to investing in new technology, services and business models to support their position in the higher ed market.

From the press release:
BetterKnow's products, combined with Follett's footprint on more than 1,000 college and university campuses in North America, will provide instructors and students broader, more affordable access to course materials.

Instructors can identify course materials from a wide variety of sources, including traditional textbooks, digital materials, videos and even open source content. Instructors will be able to read reviews, make their adoptions and collaborate with their peers teaching the same subject across institutions all in one place.

Students can go to one place to find and purchase the specific course materials required for their classes. They can compare prices across a variety of content formats and channels, and can choose their preferred option for delivery, either digitally or physically. When done in conjunction with an existing on-campus location, Follett can coordinate purchases with the student's Financial Aid account.

"Providing instructors and students with the tools they need to identify, access and acquire a broad variety of relevant course materials is critical to students' success," said Mary Lee Schneider , President and CEO, Follett Corporation . "Follett's integrated solution will create a simpler, more affordable way to deliver content in both digital and physical formats."

The BetterKnow acquisition will also directly support Follett's ground breaking includED® program, which positions institutions to improve student outcomes by providing course materials as part of tuition or fees. The program, which has been successfully piloted and is ready for rapid expansion this spring, is designed to ensure students can conveniently obtain all of their required course materials.

"BetterKnow's technology will help us more efficiently integrate access to content with Student Information Systems at our partner schools," said Tom Christopher , President of Follett Higher Education Group. "This will help us to further grow our includED program, which ensures every student starts the first day of class with access to the same materials, providing a quick start to their coursework that we believe leads to better class engagement and achievement."

"The products we've designed and built will dramatically accelerate the use of digital course materials as we are able to eliminate key barriers to use," said Isaac Segal , Founder and CEO of BetterKnow. "Our Discovery service will enable faculty to more easily sort through and choose between a myriad of course material options available to them, ensuring that the best material can be found and utilized to meet pedagogical goals. Follett has a deep and direct reach into higher education, enabling us to quickly bring these solutions directly to campuses."

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