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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt appoints Mary Cullinane as its first chief content officer

Hub textbook firm Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said Tuesday that it has appointed Mary Cullinane to be its first chief content officer.

These days, of course, textbooks are more than just words and graphics printed on paper. Online interactive content, designed to augment a book’s lessons, has become an integral part of the textbook business as educators look to engage students who have grown up with smartphones and tablet computers.

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As chief content officer, Cullinane will be “responsible for delivering interactive, innovative content solutions for K-12 learning that help educators and students succeed in the classroom and beyond,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which also refers to itself as HMH, said in a press release. “HMH will continue to focus on integrating curriculum and digital tools, as well as apps and games, to enhance educational products and meet the evolving demands of the market.”

Cullinane spent part of her career as the head of Microsoft Corp.’s education-related innovation programs and initiatives globally, including the development of Microsoft’s School of the Future in Philadelphia. She joined HMH in January 2012 as the executive vice president of corporate affairs and social responsibility.

In a statement, HMH president and chief executive Linda K. Zecher said: “Whether through traditional print mediums or the latest digital channels, our goal is to create effective learning environments built, first and foremost, upon quality content. In this new role, Mary will apply her passion for our company and her extensive experience in education technology to ensure that HMH remains at the forefront of product innovation at this tipping point in our industry.”

The creation of this new role speaks to the way HMH, as an organization, is thinking about the origination of educational content, the company said. The goal is to put content first - ensuring that HMH continues to deliver the highest quality instructional materials in ways that can be used across multiple mediums and platforms.

Cullinane will also lead a new team focused on looking 18 to 24 months ahead to project what will meet the needs of the next generation of learners.

According to HMH, its educational products are used by 60 million students around the world.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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