Macmillan Learning Announces Major Steps in Learning Research to Help Students Achieve More

The formation of expert and student advisory groups and public release of learning foundations reveal major progress in learning research and design

March 5th, 2018

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Today at SXSWedu, Macmillan Learning, a premier learning solutions company, announced significant advances in learning research and design. The company's investment in the learning sciences reflects a deep commitment to help students, instructors, and institutions achieve more.

"Many educational technologies have failed to materially improve learning. We are passionate about blending the best learning research and empathetic user-centered design to deliver products that help more students, instructors, and institutions to reach further," said Adam Black, Ph.D., Macmillan Learning's Chief Learning Officer. "For these reasons we have been investing heavily in expertise and facilities in learning research and design and are delighted to reveal progress on this work today."

Assessing and synthesizing research in the learning sciences, distilling it into practical principles, and blending it with a user-centered approach to design presents a significant opportunity for a step-change in developing more effective learning solutions.

"Our mission is to help learners to succeed, so applying the best theoretical and empirical findings from the learning sciences is fundamental to everything we design," said Jeff Bergin, Ph.D., Vice President of Learning Research and Design. "From the end-to-end user experience down to every interaction, the stakes are high to create empathetic, highly usable, and measurably effective teaching and learning experiences."

To meet these challenges, Macmillan Learning revealed today several critical components of their program:

1. The formation of the Learning Research Advisory Council. This Council comprises leading experts in cognitive and learning science who are advising and critiquing the design principles and processes Macmillan Learning is using to develop next-generation learning experiences that deliver better outcomes.

The Council has three permanent members and two annual appointments. The three permanent members include Dr. Robert Atkinson (Arizona State University), Dr. Mark McDaniel (Washington University in St. Louis), and Dr. Christopher Dede (Harvard University). The 2018 annual members will be revealed in April.

"A number of recent innovations are helping support the rapid evolution of the learning sciences. We are able to study learning in unprecedented ways with new digital technologies such as biometric sensors as well as support personalized learning through recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning. It's exciting to see Macmillan making strides in this area, and I'm glad to be able to help them design research methods as well as research tools, such as their new Austin Learning Lab, " stated Dr. Robert Atkinson, Associate Professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, Arizona State University.

2. The formation of a Student Co-design Group. Macmillan Learning has pioneered processes for involving students in co-designing learning solutions and this is being augmented by a new group of students who will additionally critique all new solutions that Macmillan builds.

"Helping a student to succeed academically starts with empathy - for their daily life, competing priorities, and challenges. This is why students are at the heart of our user-centered approach to design. The student co-design group is another example of that belief," said Alicia Nachman, head of User Experience.|

3. The Public Release of Macmillan's Learning Design Foundations. Macmillan Learning has codified research from education research and cognitive science into an evolving portfolio of design foundations that it uses in the design of its learning solutions. As part of contributing to the education community, the company will be releasing these publicly for any educator or education company to benefit from, starting in April.

For more details on the transformational approach Macmillan Learning is taking to learning science and analytics, please visit our website: or see us in Austin at SXSWedu. Click here for our menu of events:

About Macmillan Learning:

Macmillan Learning improves lives through learning. Our legacy of excellence in education informs our approach to using user-centered design, learning science, impact research, and data mining to develop world-class content and pioneering products that are empathetic, highly effective, and drive improved outcomes. Through deep partnership with the world's best researchers, educators, administrators, and developers, we facilitate teaching and learning opportunities that spark student engagement and improve outcomes. We provide educators with tailored solutions designed to inspire curiosity and measure progress. Our commitment to teaching and discovery upholds our mission to improve lives through learning. Macmillan Learning includes both academic and institutional divisions. To learn more, please visit or see us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN or join our Macmillan Community.

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