Via Reuters, News Corp has announced that it has acquired privately-held Wireless Generation for a reported $360 million in cash. Wireless Generation makes educational apps for students and teachers to help build curricula and teach core concepts. News Corp bought Wireless Generation to bolster its offerings in the education technology sector. From the Wireless Generation site, here is how they describe what the company does:
Wireless Generation creates innovative tools, systems, and services that help educators teach smarter. With its mobile assessment software, the company invented a better way to give classroom assessments and make data-based instructional decisions. Wireless Generation has broken new ground with technology that analyzes student data and provides curriculum customized to individual learning needs. Wireless Generation also builds large-scale data systems that centralize student data and give educators and parents unprecedented visibility into learning. A Web 2.0 collaboration and knowledge network for educators propagates proven approaches across schools. Wireless Generation currently serves more than 200,000 educators and 3 million students.
According to the press release, the executive team in place at Brooklyn-based Wireless Generation and co-founder Larry Berger will stay at the helm and keep a 10% stake in the in company. Operating as a subsidiary of News Corp, this is a nice set of technologies coming into the fold. While, this acquisition is ostensibly for education technology, I just can’t help but to think that it also has something to do with the reported iPad Newspaper.
Don’t get me wrong, I think News Corp is very serious about education technology. Electronic textbooks alone could be worth billions in the coming years, and as students (and parents) expect high tech to be core to teaching, helping schools offer integrated solutions will be key. But I also had a look through Wireless Generation’s product line (I’m digging the writing apps) and saw things like the mClass device. Here is something that is designed to be toted around, connect with lots of other information centers, and is rather tough (as in can take a beating).
I look at the mClass device and see how it works with information and the classroom, and can’t help think that this technology could be adapted for newsrooms, consumers, or other platforms.
Maybe I’m just nuts, but I swear this is more about getting technology for other ends than it is about education.