English: This is a high-resolution image of the United States Declaration of Independence (article (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In 1989, a man in Pennsylvania bought a picture at a flea market for $4. He liked the frame and thought he could use it for another painting. However, when he attempted to detach the picture from the painting, the frame disintigrated. When the wood fell away and the picture was moved however, something amazing was discovered underneath. One of the 500 original copies of the Declaration of Independence was found. It fetched almost $2.5 million at auction.
I would guess that shopper, a Financial Analyst from Philadelphia, had no idea what would happen when he woke up that day. In fact, it probably came in waves as he first discovered the document, then showed it to friends, one of whom suggested he have it appraised, took it to an appraiser, and the suggested value came back at around $1 milllion. Of course, to get two and a half times that would be the next wave…
This leads me to 2012. While I didn’t happen upon a windfall economically, a series of meetings, introductions, and conversations have led me to a windfall of research that I’m very excited to share. A few weeks ago, I was named as the Director of the Center for Online Learning. This efficacy center is part of the Research Innovation Network (RIN) established by Pearson at the start of 2012. There are five centers in total:
- Educator Effectiveness (led by Kelly Burling, PhD)
- NextGen Learning & Assessment (led by Steve Ferrara PhD & Peter Foltz PhD)
- College Career & Success (led by Katie McClarty PhD)
- Digital Data, Analytics, & Adaptive Learning (led by John Behrens PhD)
- and my center – the Center for Online Learning (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv38mnZhx3E - you can see ALL of the RIN center videos on YouTube now)
The research center concept came out of the Assessment & Information Test group, where pure, academic research had been conducted for years to determine efficacy, efficiency, and effective practices in and around testing. However, as the power of this kind of informed data became obvious, the head of Pearson North America (Will Ethridge), along with Dr. Kimberly O’Malley, VP of Research and Development as well as the Center’s overall director formed a network of research groups. The mission of the centers is to actively pursue critical education research that not only identifies trends, effective practices, transformative processes, and reform issues, but actually drives solutions that will impact and help change education in a meaningful and effective way.
So, in this P-20 initiative, we will work with researchers around the world of education to identify needs, problems, solutions, and offer data-driven suggestions to help. We will help fund research, perform studies of our own, align with education policy groups, and add to the growing body of education research that exists today, while we (ultimately) improve education at every level.
As we launch the RIN website in January of 2013, my center has some catching up to do. As the last Center to be established, I will do my best to find, support, and produce quality research in and around online learning. From 1:1 initiatives to questions involving OER, modality, mobile, and beyond, I hope to drive the eLearning conversation forward. I trust you’ll read the other director’s blog posts about some really cool studies they are currently involved in. And as far as my own center goes, I’ve inherited a few projects already underway. From a 1:1 Learning Framework initiative that hopes to identify key strategies or components that will have a measurable, positive impact on student learning and teacher instructional effectiveness, to a digital devices project which seeks to develop a research and development plan to address the topic of score interpretations when assessments and instructional content are delivered across devices such as computers, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, etc., we have some exciting work already moving forward.
But of course there will be MUCH more. So, just like the lucky man above, I invite you to watch if not participate in the “waves” that I believe are coming. There is a lot we need to understand better about this new modality that holds such promise. I hope you will help us determine the most effective practices, policies, and techniques for the best teaching and learning possible. Good luck and good teaching.