British publisher Pearson is to pay $230 million for US digital learning firm Schoolnet, the latest in a string of acquisitions to cement its leading position in education technology.

Schoolnet’s data tools allow teachers to personalize learning, and currently serve more than 5 million US students from pre-kindergarten through to secondary education in about a third of America’s largest cities, Pearson said on Tuesday.

“Being able to offer a connective digital spine for learning has been Pearson’s goal for years,” chief executive Marjorie Scardino said.

Pearson, which also owns the Financial Times and Penguin Books, has spent more than $1.4 billion on education companies since disposing of a majority stake in Interactive Data Corporation for $2 billion a year ago.

The company said the acquisition should be broadly neutral to earnings per share (EPS) in 2011, including integration costs, and should boost adjusted EPS in 2012.

Pearson shares were up 0.9% by 01:20 pm, one of the top gainers in a flat European media index.

“Pearson should see further benefits as they roll out the technology into their global footprint,” UBS analyst Alastair Reid said in a note. New York City-based Schoolnet was founded in 1998 by Jonathan D. Harber, who will retain his position as chief executive, and Denis P. Doyle.

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