This showed up in my Twitter stream a few days ago.
To follow the link, click on the image or visit http://www.air.org/news/index.cfm?fa=viewContent&content_id=899
T’is the season for mergers it seems. First there was the Blackboard merger with Elluminate and Wimba (for a good assessment of this merger, see Well Played, Blackboard). Earlier this week I posted that K12, Inc. and KC Distance Learning were combining forces (and I still hope to return to that topic and dissect it a little more, maybe in an entry about K-12 online learning corporate entities). Now American Institutes for Research is merging with Learning Point Associates.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know much about the American Institutes for Research (AIR) – at least not based on their name. A quick look at their reports indicates that the only category they have for anything technology-related is an “Online Testing” category under the “Educational Assessment” stream.
Now on the other hand, Learning Point Associates (LPA) is an organization that many in K-12 online learning will be familiar with. LPA began as the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), which eventually became the Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest (REL Midwest) – and I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure the exact relationship between LPA and REL Midwest (in fact I thought REL Midwest and LPA were one and the same). Anyway…
You may recall that NCREL/LPA is responsible for much of the early research into K-12 online learning. In fact, the citation list reads like a who’s who of important researchers and evaluators in our field:
Blomeyer, R. (2002). Online learning for K–12 students: What do we know now? Naperville, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from http://www.ncrel.org/tech/elearn/synthesis.pdf
Blomeyer, R. L. (2002). Virtual schools and e-learning in K-12 environments: Emerging policy and practice. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from http://www.ncrel.org/policy/pubs/html/pivol11/apr2002.htm
Cavanaugh, C., Gillan, K. J., Kromrey, J., Hess, M., & Blomeyer, R. (2004). The effects of distance education on K–12 student outcomes: A meta-analysis. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from http://www.ncrel.org/tech/distance/k12distance.pdf
Margolin, J., & Friedman, L. (2004). Management and implementation of the online AP academy: First year evaluation report. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from http://www.govhs.org/vhsweb/webobjects.nsf/Images/results/$file/online_ap_acad_eval_report.pdf
Smith, R., Clark, T., & Blomeyer, R. L. (2005). A synthesis of new research on K-12 online learning. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from http://www.ncrel.org/tech/synthesis/synthesis.pdf
- note that the Lowes paper from this series of funded studies is available at http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/publications/lowes_final.pdf (it is the only one that was made available online)
Watson, J. F., & Kalmon, S. (2005). Keeping pace with K–12 online learning: A review of state-level policy and practice. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from http://www.kpk12.com/downloads/KeepingPace_2005.pdf
Watson, J. F., Winograd, K., & Kalmon, S. (2004). Keeping pace with K–12 online learning: A snapshot of state-level policy and practice. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from http://www.kpk12.com/downloads/KeepingPace_2004.pdf
And I’m sure I’m missing some… I would add that the REL Midwest are the organization behind the Online learning opportunities for rural schools in Madison, Wisconsin next week (and as a disclaimer, I am one of the invited keynote speakers at this event).
With this merger, I am wondering if the focus on K-12 online learning that NCREL/LPA/REL Midwest have had will decrease given the almost total absence of technology-focused research being done by the AIR. I would certainly hope not!