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Tech-books: Microsoft, Houghton Mifflin strike deal

The textbook publisher says it signed a pact with Microsoft to develop a new digital education system for school districts.

Textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin said Monday it signed a pact with Microsoft to develop a new digital education system for school districts. Under the deal, Houghton Mifflin will build its learning system with Microsoft technology, including the.Net framework 3.0 and its latest SharePoint servers.

In 2001, Houghton Mifflin, an American institution in education publishing, bought instructional technology from IBM. That technology became what it called Learning Village, a system for school administrators and teachers to access curriculum, among other features. Now used by 45,000 schools in roughly 30 countries, the software is due for an update, according to Houghton Mifflin. With Microsoft technology, it will build an expanded version of the platform that gives lets school administrators, teachers, parents and students access the same portal with individualized sign-on accounts.

Students, for example, will be able to download homework assignments and turn them in digitally. Parents can view how their child is progressing in school. Teachers can add curriculum to the portal and share that coursework with peers in the school district.

Jeanne Hayes, president of The Hayes Connection, an educational consulting firm, said the deal is an endorsement of Microsoft's .Net platform, giving it more of an edge in instructional technology. She added that this deal is one of Houghton Mifflin's first since it was bought out by Irish software company Riverdeep last year.

"This shows it's taking the strategic route of strong instructional technology," she said.