Pearson 2025 - Transforming teaching and privatising education data

By Sam Sellar and Anna Hogan

Where does Pearson want to be in 2025? And what are the potential implications of this vision for public education? Pearson currently has a presence in nearly 60 countries and characterises itself as the ‘world’s learning company’. Pearson is a new type of edu-business that operates across multiple education sectors and industries with a more ambitious global corporate vision than many of its competitors. The company has undergone significant restructuring over recent years, moving from an Anglo-American media holding company to a globally integrated education services company.

Pearson aims to lead the ‘next generation’ of teaching and learning by developing digital learning platforms, including Artificial Intelligence in education (AIEd). It is piloting new AI technologies that it hopes will enable virtual tutors to provide personalised learning to students, much like Siri or Alexa. This technology will be integrated into a single platform— Pearson Realize™—that has now been integrated with Google Classroom. It seeks to develop direct and lifelong relationships with customers to whom it will provide virtual schooling, professional certifications, assessments, and other services.

Pearson’s vision for education in 2025 laudably promotes the benefits of technological developments and their combination with new kinds of teacher professionalism. However, its corporate strategy is premised upon creating disruptive changes to (a) the teaching profession, (b) the delivery of curriculum and assessment and (c) the function of schools, particularly public schooling. These disruptions do not follow a coherent set of educational principles, but capriciously serve the interests of the company’s shareholders.

According to the findings of this research, Pearson’s vision raises two main causes for concern in relation to the integrity and sustainability of public schooling globally:

  1. the privatisation of data infrastructure and data, which encloses innovation and new knowledge about how we learn, turning public goods into private assets; and
  2. the transformation and potential reduction of the teaching profession, diminishing the broader purposes and outcomes of public schooling in favour of personalised learning that focuses on individual knowledge and skills. 

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