Jose Ferreira

Is the Google-fication of education underway?

January 7, 2011: 1:34 PM ET

Among tablets and 3D TVs at CES, one-size-fits-all learning is facing a digital death knell.

By Scott Olster, associate editor

Like schools of fish traveling in sync, the traditional education experience has been centered around the class, that near-random group of students following the teacher's lead as they make their way through a course together, some succeeding brilliantly, others, not so much. But it looks like that model might just be given a run for its money with the advent of adaptive online learning.

Online learning startup Knewton and Arizona State University announced a partnership Thursday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in which Knewton will apply its adaptive virtual learning platform to run two of the university's primary introductory math courses and two remedial math courses starting this spring.

Knewton's deal with ASU, one of the largest public universities in the U.S., is a major test for the young company and for adaptive learning technology, with an expected 6-8,000 ASU student enrollments in the first year and an aggressive expansion plan.

With $21 million in venture capital funding from firms that include Accel Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and First Round Capital, New York-based Knewton has built up its adaptive learning system over the past two years mainly by offering online test prep courses -- SAT, LSAT, GMAT -- to schools and individual students. More

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