Reinventing McGraw-Hill Education: CEO David Levin Talks New Connect Program, Company Changes

McGraw-Hill Education is a company amidst a big transformation. It is rediscovering its soul and its roots — at least according to David Levin, the president and CEO of the publishing giant.

In 2013, conglomerate McGraw-Hill Companies sold McGraw-Hill Education to investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management, LLC (APO). Since then, the education company has substantially increased its global presence and strengthened its software, technology, and digital content. Today, it is one of the three biggest educational publishers worldwide, and it prides itself in its newfound focus in learning science.

Levin assumed his roles as president and CEO in 2014. He has committed to continuing McGraw-Hill Education’s transition from a conventional educational publisher to a comprehensive digital learning company.

“Three years in, it’s very exciting [because] it really feels that by harnessing some of the cognitive side, some psychology, that sort of umbrella that has covered learning science, and injecting that into content, we are actually able to deliver something which really makes a difference to students and just as importantly to faculty,” said Levin. “And we should talk about that.”

Hannah Nyren sat down with Levin to further discuss McGraw-Hill Education’s evolvement as a company and its goals for the future. Levin said the company constantly looks to improve its content, become more innovative, and increase its products’ effectiveness in and out of the classroom.

Expansion of Connect program

In the last six months, McGraw-Hill Education decided to expand its Connect program, which is a flexible set of resources that helps teachers create courses that meet a diverse array of students and their needs. In doing this, the company began to look at the process of instrumenting content from institutions’ perspectives.

According to Levin, they aimed to “create an environment which would allow a faculty member to rapidly configure and create their own course.” That product is Connect2. The program, which has yet to be released, is an expansion of the original Connect.

“No one provider of content can ever capture the richness of a given course, and they shouldn’t,” said Levin. “So one book is not a course, one book is a part of a course; it is a foundation block for some parts.”

That’s where Connect2 comes in. The new program allows teachers to formulate their classes through any form of content they want — not just through a book.

Levin cites the importance of addressing and alleviating potential learning impediments in students early as another strong area of focus for McGraw-Hill Education. “It is about how we catch students before they fall,” he said.

According to Levin, McGraw-Hill Education’s efforts in this realm have not gone unnoticed.

“We are seeing [results] in a lot of students,” said Levin enthusiastically. “We have got about 5.5 million who are using these programs. Lots and lots of evidence now that it makes a difference in community colleges, in higher ed, and indeed in K-12.”

Modern problems in education

Not-so-coincidentally, Levin said the above three areas — community colleges, higher ed, and K-12 — are burdened with the most problems in modern education, which is why he and the company work so fervently to accommodate them. The economics and shortcomings of higher ed, the depersonalization of K-12 ed, and the lack of support in adult learning are the main problems that plague the United States’ education system.

“Typically, what we are seeing is that elite students are going to elite schools and get great results, and that is not reflective of America. America is meant to be a country of meritocracy, of fluidity, of make yourself; you give yourself a chance to be all that you can be and the country will respond to that,” said Levin. “The education system doesn’t mirror that.”

Levin said the base problem of K-12 education in the United States is its 80 percent graduation rate. He said this issue reflects the system’s lack of focus in personalized experiences.

“We know that investing in education is the biggest, biggest predictor of a successful life in every regard. So how do we turn our society?” questioned Levin. “We have got to address the issue in K-12.”

The last problem Levin addressed is the ever-changing job market and its constant shift in demands. He said that learning cannot stop when students graduate college — new skills and new jobs are always on the rise, and people must constantly adapt.

Listen in to hear more of Levin’s insights on the education system and to learn more about McGraw-Hill Education and their current efforts towards universally enhancing their products and the education experience for learners of all ages.

Elizabeth Hartel

Elizabeth Hartel

Elizabeth hails from New Jersey and studies journalism at Emerson College, where she works for two publications: a lifestyle magazine and a music magazine. In addition to education, she also enjoys writing about health and fitness and pop culture.