Pearson Education dishes out homework to kids and grown-ups alike. As the world's largest educational publisher, the company prints textbooks, workbooks, and other materials for the K-12, higher education, and professional markets. Noteworthy academic imprints include Addison-Wesley, Longman, Allyn & Bacon, and Prentice Hall. Pearson Education's professional imprints publish technical books, certification materials, and courseware. The firm also has electronic testing and assessment and skill development holdings. Pearson Education is the largest part of the UK-based media group Pearson plc, which in 2008 expanded significantly when it acquired two of Reed Elsevier's Harcourt Education units for $950 million.
Pearson Education accounts for 75% of its parent company's total revenues. It is ogranized into three segments: North American Education, International Education, and Professional. The North American Education segment includes notable businesses such as LearningStudio (formerly called eCollege), a provider of course management, assessment, and e-learning software. Its Longman imprint dates back to 1725 when Thomas Longman published the first book typeset by Benjamin Franklin.
Part of its Professional division, Pearson VUE contains the company's electronic testing business for regulatory and certification boards. Its International segment houses Edexcel, which provides academic and vocational qualifications and testing to schools, colleges, employers, and other places of learning in the UK and internationally.
Pearson International Education company is active in more than 70 countries. International areas of focus include developing markets such as Brazil, China, India, and the Middle East.
The company grew sales by 4% in 2011 compared to 2010. The International and Professional businesses both contributed to the increase, helped by acquisitions made in 2010 and 2011. However, North American business saw a decline by 2% due to the weakness of the US dollar and the negative impact of the currency exchange rate. The North American division was also affected by price of text books in the US, less people enrolling in college, and a drop in State education budgets.
Pearson has adopted the goal of becoming a leading education technology company. The company is investing in its education holdings by making acquisitions in order to expand its content, build up its technology and services offerings, and grow in international markets. Pearson is doing so through funds it acquired when it sold its stake in Interactive Data Corporation for some $2 billion in 2010.
As part of these efforts, Pearson in 2012 announced plans to acquire GlobalEnglish Corporation, a provider of business English learning, assessment, and performance support software, for $90 million. Pearson is making the purchase to complement its adult English language training business, Wall Street English.
The previous year Pearson acquired US education technology company SchoolNet, a provider of Web-based instructional management software, for $230 million in cash. The deal was designed to significantly boost its digital content. Also in 2011 the company acquired Global Education, a provider of test preparation services for English language and other professional qualifications in China, for $155 million.
Pearson also made several key acquisitions in 2010 to diversify within the education market. In the services arena, it acquired school improvement services provider America's Choice for about $80 million. It purchased Wall Street Institute (WSI), which provides spoken English training for adults in some 25 global territories, for $92 million. It made that deal to expand in the English language market.
Also in 2010 Pearson acquired Sistema Educational Brasileiro (SEB). It purchased the learning-systems business for £326 million ($494.5 million) to expand in the fast-growing Brazilian education market. Pearson's acquisition of London-based training firm Melorio for £99.3 million ($142.4 million) reflects Pearson's interest in the vocational-education sector.