Education Industry

Published May 1, 2002

A sampling of education industry news from The Education Economy, a weekly publication of the market research firm Eduventures, Inc., which conducts research on the pre-K-12, post-secondary, corporate training, and consumer markets worldwide. This copyrighted material is used by permission of Eduventures, Inc.

Integrated E-Education Brings Promises …

Trends in K-12 education technology over the past year indicate a shift away from stand-alone solutions to specific problems and a move towards a more integrated e-education framework, says Eduventures, Inc. Executive Vice President Peter J. Stokes in The Education Economy on February 1. That move, spurred by an influx of resources from the federal government’s E-Rate program, promises to yield “richer learning opportunities and organizational efficiencies rarely seen in the school houses of old.”

Recent industry announcements illustrate to Stokes that both vendors and school districts have recognized the value of inter-linking communication portals, classroom technologies, and administrative systems. The result, he says, “is a more integrated e-education framework around which schools can design more effective classroom curriculum and remediation programs.”

… and Concerns

However, schools that use federal funds to access the Internet are required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to have filtering systems in place by July of this year, or risk losing federal education aid. Although 74 percent of the nation’s approximately 15,000 public school districts have installed filters, some have not, citing both philosophical and logistical problems. Critics argue the requirements of CIPA violate the First Amendment, remove community control, and prevent students from using the Internet effectively.

Technology critic David Noble, a history professor at Toronto’s York University, also has raised the question of privacy in post-secondary distance education, where the texts of online class discussions may be captured and stored. In his new book, Digital Diploma Mills, Noble says it would be possible for law enforcement officials to demand transcripts of class discussions.

Apex Learning Selects Jones Knowledge

Apex Learning, a provider of virtual school solutions for K-12 institutions, announced on February 5 it had selected Jones Knowledge, Inc., to distribute its online professional development courses for K-12 teachers. Jones Knowledge specializes in the development and deployment of online learning solutions for K-12 schools and school districts. Course topics range from teaching Advanced Placement classes to classroom management and assessment.

Louisiana Selects Apex

Two days later, on February 7, Apex Learning announced a partnership with the State of Louisiana to provide the online learning platform for the Louisiana Virtual High School. Through the school, the state will offer its students 16 locally developed online courses and access to Apex Learning’s online advanced placement courses.

College Board to Extend Reach to Middle School

The College Board, whose tests have been a part of the culture of American high schools for more than a century, will soon expand its reach into middle school with instructional materials intended to get students on track for college. Starting in the 2002-03 school year, the College Board will begin pilot-testing a package of student-learning and teacher-professional-development materials for grades 6-8. The goal is to raise the level of achievement in the middle grades so students are ready to take college-preparatory and AP courses in high school.

Edison Stands by Revenue Accounting Policy

Edison Schools, Inc. a proprietary manager of public and charter schools, announced on February 14 it stands by its revenue recognition policy, which had been questioned in a Bloomberg news report. The company said its revenue recognition policy had been in place for seven years and was reviewed by its outside auditors, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, as recently as last month.

The Bloomberg report had said Edison falsely boosted revenues by including teacher salaries and other expenses for school contracts as income. The company’s shares, which had fallen by approximately 10 percent after publication of the Bloomberg story, rose more than 10 percent immediately following Edison’s announcement.

Massachusetts Renews Test Prep Contract

On January 27, The Princeton Review, a provider of test preparation and higher education admissions services, and the Massachusetts Department of Education announced renewal and expansion of a contract for usage of an online tutorial program designed to help students in the class of 2003 and 2004 improve the math and reading skills required to succeed on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The contract offers services to up to 20,000 students and is worth $190,000.

McDougal Littell’s Algebra Books Go Online

Under the terms of an agreement announced January 17, ExploreLearning, a provider of interactive online learning solutions, and McDougal Littell, a division of Houghton Mifflin that publishes materials for grades 6-12, will develop and deliver enhanced online versions of McDougal Littell’s algebra textbooks, Algebra 1 and Algebra 1: Concepts and Skills.

McGraw-Hill and Mindsurf to Offer Digital Curricula

On March 6, McGraw-Hill Education’s Digital Learning Group, a provider of technology solutions for the pre-K-12 market, and Mindsurf, a company that develops, publishes, and distributes one-to-one software for schools and teachers, announced they are jointly developing digital curricula based on McGraw-Hill Education’s electronic textbooks for Mindsurf’s Discourse instructional platform. The new product enables teachers to provide lessons and assessments from the textbook directly to each student computer.

NCS Pearson Creates Education Solution

NCS Pearson announced on January 17 it combined three of its business units to create an education solution that includes curriculum, assessment, and enterprise data management products. The new company, called NCS Learn, represents the union of NCS Pearson’s K-12 Enterprise Software Solutions, SchoolCONNECT, and the NCS Learn comprehensive courseware divisions.

PLATO Reports Record First Quarter Results

On March 1, PLATO Learning, Inc., a provider of computer-based and e-learning instruction for the K-12 market, announced revenues for the first quarter ended January 31, 2002 totaling $14 million, an increase of $4.3 million, or 44 percent over the comparable period for fiscal year 2001. Net loss for the first quarter of fiscal year 2002 was $1.4 million, a $1.0 million improvement from the reported net loss of $2.4 million for the same period of fiscal year 2001. Diluted loss per share was $0.08 in the first quarter of fiscal year 2002 versus a reported $0.21 diluted loss per share in the first quarter of fiscal year 2001.

Sylvan Acquires Controlling Interest in Walden U. …

Sylvan Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc., announced on February 20 it has exercised its option to acquire an additional 10 percent interest in Walden University, an online university offering Ph.D. and other graduate-level degree programs in education, management, and the social and behavioral sciences. The $8 million investment gives Sylvan Ventures a controlling, 51 percent stake in Walden. Although historically based in the K-12 market, Sylvan plans to grow in the online higher education market through streamlining and acquisition.

… and Acquires National Technological U.

Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. announced on March 20 it has agreed to acquire National Technological University, a provider of engineering and technical degrees through distance education. NTU will become part of Sylvan’s Online Higher Education division, fitting into Sylvan’s strategy to offer degrees to working professionals in specific markets.

Thomson in Big E-Learning Merger

Thomson Learning, a division of Thomson Corporation, announced on February 19 that NETg, Wave Technology, and Course Technology have formed a single Thomson Learning business entity. The company says the combined companies offer a complete range of complementary learning solutions including e-learning products, tools and services, technology certification products and programs, books, instructor-led materials, and online textbooks. The three companies will continue to serve their customers as before, but will also begin cross-integrating products and services to expand and enhance their offerings.

Vantage Learning Selected by ACT …

On February 25, 2002, Vantage Learning, a provider of online assessment and automated essay scoring, announced that its IntelliMetric Essay Scoring Engine has been chosen by ACT, Inc. to provide back-end assessment services. ACT, Inc. provides more than a hundred assessment, research, information, and program management services in the broad areas of educational planning, career planning, and workforce development. Vantage’s IntelliMetric Scoring Engine uses a blend of artificial intelligence and the digitization of human expertise to accurately score and assess a student’s competency in a range of subjects.

… and by CTB/McGraw-Hill

CTB/McGraw-Hill, a provider of assessment tools, and Vantage Learning announced an agreement on March 18 whereby Vantage Learning will provide its IntelliMetric essay-scoring engine for the newly introduced CTB Online Writing application.

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