Pearson, the world's largest education publisher, acquired Connections Education, one of the country's largest online learning providers, last night for $400 million in cash.

The bid for Connections, which has been growing at 30% year-over-year, shows that online learning is being driven by the private sector.

Decisions about what type of education a child receives are traditionally made by state legislation, but the acquisition of a strong player like this by a very large publishing company will put pressure on states to make online learning more widely available.

Connection Education's online learning business, Connections Academy, serves 40,000 students in 21 states. The acquisition will also make for more competition and put pressure on Connections' biggest rival, K12, to innovate and grow. K12 Inc. considering buying Connections at one point.

Education watchers say that the private enterprise push for K12 education that blends online learning with a traditional classroom approach is going to become the trend for growth. Typically, it has been small, non-profit charter school operators that have pushed online learning efforts.