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The News School: News Corp. buys education technology company [Updated]

News Corp. has agreed to acquire Wireless Generation, an education technology company -- a deal that signals the media giant's move into the education market.  Murdoch

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled media giant said it will pay $360 million in cash for a 90% stake in the privately held company that makes software to help teachers evaluate students and tailor individualized instruction. Wireless Generation's technology already is being used by more than 200,000 teachers across the country, News Corp. said.

The investment comes on the heels of News Corp.'s high-profile hire earlier this month of Joel Klein, the former New York City school-system chancellor, to advise News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Murdoch on the emerging educational marketplace. In a statement, Murdoch outlined what he saw as the business opportunity in elementary and secondary education.

"When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching," Murdoch said in a statement. "Wireless Generation is at the forefront of individualized, technology-based learning."

New York City's Department of Education uses Wireless Generation's technologies as part of a Klein-led education reform initiative that gave local principals greater autonomy to run their schools -- but required heightened accountability for student performance. Among other things, the technology enabled parents to go online to check a child's attendance records and test results.

As part of the acquisition, Wireless Generation would become a subsidiary of News Corp. The Brooklyn-based firm will be managed by Larry Berger, its founder and chief executive; Josh Reibel, president and chief operating officer; and Laurence Holt, chief product officer. They will collectively retain a 10% interest in the company.

Update: The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. 

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Rupert Murdoch. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters

 
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