Houghton Mifflin Harcourt digitized its curriculum. Now comes the hard part: adoption and adaptation.
As the education industry goes through intensive technological changes, the textbook industry has to react. When Linda Zecher, CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, joined the U.S.’s largest K-12 publisher from Microsoft, she didn’t realize just how many school districts don’t have the infrastructure to support an all-digital curriculum, or teachers trained to support pervasive technology usage. HMH has a fully digital curriculum that maps to state and national standards, but many school districts simply aren’t prepared to work with it.
Zecher and HMH chief content officer Mary Cullinane must manage through the current school landscape, while simultaneously preparing for a future where curricula will be adapted to the way individual students learn. Technology is an enabler, but not a panacea. HMH is adopting gamification, building databases of meta-tagged content to appeal to a wide range of potential student interests, shifting its content development teams and tools, and trying to find ways to adapt popular characters from its trade division, such as Curious George, into educational materials and apps. Zecher and Cullinane say it is early in the development of what is called adapative learning, but the process is underway.