Desire2Learn, the Ontario-based makers of one of the largest Learning Management Systems (LMS) that raised $80 million last year, has been going after M&A of late. Today, after buying student collaboration platform Wiggio and predictive analytics maker Degree Compass earlier this year, Desire2Learn is announcing that it has acquired Knowillage Systems, the creators of an adaptive learning and analytics engine that aims to help teachers improve student performance.
LeaP, Knowillage’s adaptive learning engine, enables teachers to personalize the learning path for their students using natural language processing techniques and analytics to understand where students are struggling with the material at hand. While there are many learning analytics options on the market today, the Vancouver-based company differentiates its service by then enabling teachers to provide the right tools and content to address the areas where they’re struggling.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Desire2Learn VP of Marketing and Business Development Jeff McDowell did say that this is the company’s biggest acquisition yet and “fits in with the M&A” the company has pursued of late. Desire2Learn has become a real technology company, McDowell explains, citing the amount of data scientists it now employs, with the goal of removing the manual process of mapping outcomes.
“This isn’t about buying customers or market share,” the VP of Business Development says, “we want these acquisitions to align with the company that we want to build.” For the last two-and-a-half years, Knowillage has been building a platform focused on automating adaptive learning, but that’s not the only reason that the company attracted Desire2Learn.
The company’s leadership team collectively has decades of experience in this space, including veterans of WebCT (Blackboard’s online learning environment), who spent years helping Pearson build their digital education tools.
After leaving Pearson, the Knowillage founders developed patent-pending machine learning tech to help personalize the learning path for students by adjusting to learner’s interactions and performance, anticipating the content they would be needing. Beyond integrating with Moodle, Blackboard, Desire2Learn and Instructure (the largest LMSes), the tech can also be used by corporations looking to maximize their human capital, the founders said, helping them to understand and get a better picture of employee skill level and optimize training sessions.
“The modern classroom, whether it is in a school or a Fortune 500 organization, is dependent upon the personalization of educational content at scale to ensure student success and unlock vast human potential,” says Knowillage co-founder and CEO Bill Bilic. “Integrated with the Desire2Learn platform, Knowillage’s adaptive techniques will be available to organizations across the globe and thus more valuable and relevant than ever.”