But first, I wanted to share that I will be traveling around Italy and nearby countries for the next month. My daughter is attending the Cal State University based in Florence this year from August to May and I am going to visit. In addition, I will be talking with people about online learning in the various places I will visit, but for sure in Madrid and Dublin. If you know of people involved in online learning – college or K-12 – please let me know so I can meet them while traveling.
Now, back to Michael’s predictions. Here were his six predictions and my commentary below each prediction:
1. Just under 40 percent of all U.S. postsecondary students will enroll in at least one fully online course in the fall of 2011.
- The Sloan C group came out with their report in October 2011. They reported, “Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.” and “Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year.” Michael’s prediction was a little high, but if this growth rate continues, we should see 40% reached by the end of 2012.
2. Public school budgets will continue to shrink, so more districts will do more business with online learning providers to fill in the gaps.
- No doubt public school budgets are shrinking. Read about the K-12 budget reductions in California, Texas, New York, and in general, from the Huffington Post. But, in Utah, they are talking about adding money for education and the same in Florida. Maybe Florida and Utah are signaling a turn around for education funding in other states. Of course, Utah and Florida are two of the leaders in online learning as rated by Digital Learning Now. It is not clear whether people are moving towards online learning because of the budget, but iNacol officials will tell you that they get inquiries about how to start K-12 online learning at least once a week. I am not sure that districts are turning to online learning because of financial reasons because we know initially that online learning is not less expensive or is it because they want to better serve students in different ways?
3. An increasing number of suburban schools will begin using online learning, too.
- Absolutely true. Most major school districts located in urban areas have some type of online learning initiative. But, I think many of these were in place before 2011, such as LA Unified, but no doubt larger city school districts continue to grow programs. Keeping Pace 2011 , released in October, indicates that “Single district programs are the fastest growing segment in K-12 online learning.”
4. Not to be outdone, education entrepreneurs will create high quality chartered schools that jump in the online learning game as well.
- I think this prediction has certainly come true. Whether you believe education entrepreneurs work in the public or private sector, there have been a number of reports and articles written regarding the for-profit entrepreneurs. I highlighted some of these reports here. Tom Vander Ark continues to keep us up-to-date with the latest information as he did with this blog entry. Certainly, to make it in the current economy in many places of the U.S., one has to be entrepreneurial. A few examples would be investor money raised by the Khan Academy and Edmodo.
5. User-generated online content will begin to explode in education.
- This is another area that is difficult to measure. I think that good online teachers are continually creating their own online content. If you participated in the EduMooc in summer 2011 or the current Change11 Mooc, then all of us who are participating are continually creating content. And, I think most would agree what is occurring in Curriki and with Open Educational Resources is facilitating this trend. So, I think it is safe to say this is a trend that will continue, but I’m not sure of any reports that illustrate this trend.
6. Mobile learning, the subject of increasing hype in the United States, will make its impact in the developing world first.
- As with other technologies, the “developing world” and business embrace new technologies first, and then, education. The multiple-screen world – computer, tablet, and smart phone – are wreaking havoc with software developers to know which size to create their content (there is new technologies that are developing for multiple screen authoring). In addition, online educators at every level are working to figure out which type of device can best facilitate student learning. In this eSchool News report about mobile technologies as well as the Horizon Report, both validate this trend is not going away. And, you just have to walk down any street in the world to see the prevalence of mobile devices. This is another trend that will continue long into the future. So, this prediction is right on.
What will we be reflecting on a year from now when we look back on 2012? Only time will tell!