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Global Education Nonprofit Backs Adaptive Learning Pioneer

ACT strategic investment in Smart Sparrow reflects move toward adaptive and personalized learning technology

IOWA CITY, IowaACT, the nonprofit developer of the ACT® test and other assessments taken by millions of individuals annually worldwide, has made a $7.5 million strategic investment in Smart Sparrow, an adaptive learning company based in Sydney, Australia and San Francisco.

“ACT recognizes the outstanding learning capabilities Smart Sparrow has brought to the global market, representing the leading edge of education technology and an abiding commitment to the role of great teachers,” said Marten Roorda, ACT chief executive officer. “This move is consistent with ACT’s ambition to become a learning company, the value that we place on personalization, and our commitment to develop adaptive learning. By investing in Smart Sparrow, we’ll be helping people around the world learn more efficiently and effectively than ever before.”

Smart Sparrow is a global leader in adaptive and personalized learning technology. According to Smart Sparrow, their courseware development platform and instructional design suite are used by more than 10,000 faculty members worldwide, and educators have created more than 20,000 unique digital learning experiences such as simulations, smart lessons, and interactive blended or online courses over the past five years. The company often collaborates with customers to help them develop learning solutions tailored to the needs of their students.

“We have long admired ACT’s leadership in education research and efficacy, which reflects our own heritage as a university-incubated technology,” said Dror Ben-Naim, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow. “This new association will help us deliver on our mission of putting amazing technology in the hands of global educators, so they can create dynamic learning experiences that authentically blend learning and assessment. Educators will be better equipped to address the needs of their individual learners, and prepare them to be deep thinkers and creative problem solvers.”

As a result of ACT’s investment, the two organizations will collaborate to accelerate work in learning innovation and expand upon their shared mission to help individuals succeed academically, and make successful transitions into the career pathways of tomorrow. ACT joins other investors including Moelis Australia Asset Management, Yellow Brick Capital Advisers, OneVentures, and Uniseed.

Throughout its near 60-year history, ACT has earned a reputation for its expertise in assessment. Strategic investments such as those in Smart Sparrow are enabling ACT to expand and enhance its impact on learning and assessment.

“Across society, people are interested in redesigning assessment systems so they are seamlessly integrated with the learning experience,” said Alina von Davier, vice president of ACTNext, the business innovation division at ACT. “Recent advances in technology, algorithms, and data modeling provide actionable evidence that can help students reach their potential.”

Smart Sparrow has been embraced by a variety of innovative institutions in the US and around the world to develop cutting-edge digital courses that provide students with engaging learning experiences, coupled with real-time analytics for instructors that provide key insights into student performance. 

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About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career.