McGraw-Hill Education builds up its adaptive learning chops with purchase of ALEKS

In yet another sign that adaptive learning is one of the hottest ed tech trends du jour, McGraw-Hill Education is snapping up ALEKS Corporation, an Irvine, Calif.-based developer of an artificially intelligent learning and assessment system.

The acquisition is McGraw-Hill Education’s first since it split off from what is now called McGraw-Hill Financial and was purchased by Apollo Global Management, LLC (s APO) in March. The company did not disclose financial details but said it will continue to sell ALEKS as a standalone product in the near term but more deeply integrate with its technology over time.

Developed with funding from the National Science Foundation, ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) creates educational software that assesses a student’s understanding of course content and then delivers customized instruction. The company says that it has been used by millions of students in more than 100 different math, science and business courses at K-12 schools, colleges and universities.

McGraw-Hill is trying to build up its portfolio of adaptive learning products, which includes the SmartBook adaptive e-book for higher education and LearnSmart, an adaptive “digital tutor.” The purchase follows McGraw-Hill’s decision in January to take an equity stake in the Danish adaptive learning company Area9, which helped developed the company’s existing adaptive learning products.

In adaptive learning, McGraw-Hill faces increasing competition from companies like Knewton and Dreambox Learning.