Kitchener’s Desire2Learn Beefs Up Adaptive Learning Platform, Acquires Fellow Canadian Startup Knowillage

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Desire2Learn, the Kitchener-based education technology company that created the first integrated learning platform, has announced the acquisition of Vancouver-based Knowillage Systems, Inc.

Knowillage is the creator of the “LeaP” adaptive learning engine, which improves grades by helping educators address the personal learning needs of students. LeaP uses language processing and analytics to determine gaps in a learner’s skill set and then provides tools, content, and techniques to address those areas of weakness.

This Canadian bought-and-sold acquisition will assist with educators’ efforts to improve individual learner outcomes.

“The Knowillage acquisition is strategic for Desire2Learn as it adds an adaptive learning engine to our integrated learning platform,” said Desire2Learn’s Jeff McDowell. “Most importantly, we’re excited to be able to offer a powerful tool to instructors that can improve learning outcomes for every learner.”

While Desire2Learn has a headcount of over 800 employees, Knowillage Systems has fewer than 10 employees. Desire2Learn has indicated that it will grow the team to 30 employees.

Knowillage is a group of e-learning experts and engineers who have previously worked for large educational technology companies such as WebCT, Blackboard and Pearson Education. Their adaptive learning platform is essentially a textbook that learns about the students needs. Through features like practice questions and quizzes, Knowillage uses information about what learners already know, and combines it with what other students have found useful. It has the ability to understand gaps in learning and is able to help fill them and lead students through the best content available online to ensure learning success.

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Furthermore, LeaP’s semantic engine automatically creates unique learning paths for each student. The content for LeaP’s learning paths is generated from resources provided by the educator, publisher content, or free open educational resources from trusted Internet collections. The adaptive learning engine combs these sources to find, analyze, select, and input the best learning activities based on language and context to create adaptive learning paths to help each learner overcome specific hurdles.

“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,” said Bill Bilic, Founder & CEO of Knowillage. “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.”

LeaP is also helpful for corporations looking to “maximize their human capital.” Not having a clear picture of an employee’s skill level can result in redundant and unproductive training. With LeaP, businesses can improve corporate training by offering relevant content that keeps employees engaged.

Desire2Learn, meanwhile, was one of the first (and only) startups to provide whole solutions to university students’ “class portals,” or online . The company is a global leader in cloud-based (SaaS) learning solutions and provides an open platform to over 750 clients and over 10 million learners in higher education, K-12, healthcare, government and the corporate sector. Desire2Learn has personnel in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil and Singapore.

The acquisition marks the third for the rapidly growing Desire2Learn. In March it acquired Wiggio, a Boston-based company specializing in collaboration tools for students. Meanwhile in November 2012 it acquired Degree Compass, a Tennessee-based company whose solutions help students with course selection.

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk previously has written for the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post, Techvibes and BC Business Online. Joseph often goes crazy on twitter during NHL and NFL games.