Is Thomas Frey right? “…by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

From a fairly recent e-newsletter from edsurge.com — though I don’t recall the exact date (emphasis DSC):

New England is home to some of the most famous universities in the world. But the region has also become ground zero for the demographic shifts that promise to disrupt higher education.

This week saw two developments that fit the narrative. On Monday, Southern Vermont College announced that it would shut its doors, becoming the latest small rural private college to do so. Later that same day, the University of Massachusetts said it would start a new online college aimed at a national audience, noting that it expects campus enrollments to erode as the number of traditional college-age students declines in the coming years.

“Make no mistake—this is an existential threat to entire sectors of higher education,” said UMass president Marty Meehan in announcing the online effort.

The approach seems to parallel the U.S. retail sector, where, as a New York Times piece outlines this week, stores like Target and WalMart have thrived by building online strategies aimed at competing with Amazon, while stores like Gap and Payless, which did little to move online, are closing stores. Of course, college is not like any other product or service, and plenty of campuses are touting the richness of the experience that students get by actually coming to a campus. And it’s not clear how many colleges can grow online to a scale that makes their investments pay off.

 

“It’s predicted that over the next several years, four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan

 

 

From DSC:
That last quote from UMass President Marty Meehan made me reflect upon the idea of having one or more enormous entities that will provide “higher education” in the future. I wonder if things will turn out to be that we’ll have more lifelong learning providers and platforms in the future — with the idea of a 60-year curriculum being an interesting idea that may come into fruition.

Long have I predicted that such an enormous entity would come to pass. Back in 2008, I named it the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. But then as the years went by, I got bumbed out on some things that Walmart was doing, and re-branded it the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education. We’ll see how long that updated title lasts — but you get the point. In fact, the point aligns very nicely with what futurist Thomas Frey has been predicting for years as well:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider. (source)

I realize that education doesn’t always scale well…but I’m thinking that how people learn in the future may be different than how we did things in the past…communities of practice comes to mind…as does new forms of credentialing…as does cloud-based learner profiles…as does the need for highly efficient, cost-effective, and constant opportunities/means to reinvent oneself.

Also see:

 

 

Addendum:

74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy something. That should be keeping retailers up at night. — from cnbc.com

Key points (emphasis DSC)

  • Amazon remains a looming threat for some of the biggest retailers in the country — like Walmart, Target and Macy’s.
  • When consumers are ready to buy a specific product, nearly three-quarters of them, or 74 percent, are going straight to Amazon to do it, according to a new study by Feedvisor.
  • By the end of this year, Amazon is expected to account for 52.4 percent of the e-commerce market in the U.S., up from 48 percent in 2018.

 

“In New England, there will be between 32,000 and 54,000 fewer college-aged students just seven years from now,” Meehan said. “That means colleges and universities will have too much capacity and not enough demand at a time when the economic model in higher education is already straining under its own weight.” (Marty Meehan at WBUR)

 

 

4 key tech strategies for the survival of the small liberal arts college — from campustechnology.com by Kellie B. Campbell
In a recent study on the use of technology to reduce academic costs in liberal arts colleges, four distinct themes emerged: the strategic role of IT; the importance of data; the potential of alternative education delivery modes; and opportunities for institutional partnerships. Here’s how IT leaders at these small colleges understand the future of their institutions.

Excerpt:

In this study, the flexibility of the semi-constructed interview format resulted in a fascinating level of honesty and bluntness from participants. In particular, participants’ language changed when they were asked to take off their professional hat and consider a new point of view — it was a chance to be vulnerable and honest. What was probably most interesting was that almost everyone signaled that the status quo is not sustainable. Something in the higher education model has to change for institutions to stay open, yet many lack a strategy for effecting change. Even if they do have a strategy in place on the business side, many are hesitant to dive into analysis and change on the academic side of the institution.

Institutions simply cannot continue to nibble at the edges of change. Significant change is needed in order to sustain the financial model of higher education. The ideas for doing so are out there, though the work must be guided by the institutional mission and consider new models for delivering education. CIOs and their departments can play an important role in that work — providing infrastructure, data, access, services and ideas — but institutional leadership at large needs to understand IT’s strategic role and position the organization to make that impact.

When participants were able to think about the “what if” question — what if the institution were forced to drastically cut academic costs — several had detailed, “out there” ideas that might not be traditionally welcomed into higher education cultures. Yet a number of participants were not being asked by their institutions to think about such ideas. The question is, if everyone agrees that the status quo is not sustainable, why aren’t they thinking about it?

 

 

A prediction for blockchain transformation in higher education  — from blockchain.capitalmarketsciooutlook.com by Michael Mathews

Excerpt:

Ironically, blockchain entered the scene in a very neutral way, while Bitcoin created all the noise, simply because it used an aspect of blockchain. Bitcoin, cyber coins, and/or token concepts will come and go, just as the various forms of web browsers did. However, just as the Internet lives on, so will blockchain. In fact, blockchain may very well become the best of the Internet and IoT merged with the trust factor of the ISBN/MARC code concept. As history unveils itself blockchain will stand the test of time and become a form of a future generation of the Internet (i.e. Internet 4.0) without the need for cyber security.

With a positive prediction on blockchain for future coupled with lessons learned from the Internet, blockchain will become the single largest influencer on education. I have only gone on record of predicting two shifts in technology over a 5-10 year period of time, and both have come to pass now. This is my third prediction, with the greatest potential for transformation.

 

 

What I did not know until last year was a neutral technology called blockchain would show up in the history of the world; and at the same time Amazon would start designing blockchain templates to reduce all the processes to allow educational decisions to become as easy as ordering and receiving Amazon products.

 

 

Excerpt:

CONCLUSION
This paper has outlined the plethora of new credential types, uses, and modes of delivery. It also has highlighted advancements in assessment. In terms of assessment content, the progression of mastery-based assessments is a distinct departure from the traditional knowledge-based assessment approaches. New assessments are likely to enter the market, as companies see the tremendous growth of competency-based assessments that will be critical and necessary in the future ecosystem described.

Assessments are no longer just a source of grades for gradebooks. They have forged two meaningful bypass routes to seat time in higher education. In the first, competency-based education assessments gate the pace of student progress through the curriculum. In the second, certification by an exam delivers not a grade, but a degree-like credential in a relevant occupation, indicating skill and expertise. For some occupations, this exam-as-credential has already been market validated by employers’ willingness to require it, hire by it, and pay a salary premium for it.

All of these innovations are driving towards a common end. The future learning-to employment ecosystem will be heavily reliant on credentials and assessments. We see:

  • A future in which credentials will no longer be limited to degrees, but will come in varying shapes and sizes, offered by many organizations, training providers, and employers;
  • A future in which credentials will, however, be able to articulate a set of underlying “know” knowledge and “do” performance skill competencies;
  • A future in which a credential’s scope will be described by the set of competencies it covers, and measured via assessment;
  • A future in which a credential’s quality will be indicated by evidence of mastery within each competency before it is awarded;
  • A future in which quality metrics, such as consumer reviews or employer use of credentials will come into play, bringing the best and most usable credentials and assessments to the forefront.

And, finally, the future ecosystem will depend heavily on online and technology-enabled strategies and solutions. The working learner will turn away from those stringent solutions that require seat time and offer little flexibility. They will drive the market hard for innovations that will lead to consumer-facing marketplaces that allow them a “one-stop shop” approach for working, learning, and living.

The massive market of the working learner/the learning worker is here to stay. The future is that learner. Credentials and assessment will find their own strong footing to help successfully meet both the learners’ needs and the employers’ needs. We applaud this SHIFT. For, it will be an ecosystem that services many more learners than today’s education to employment system serves.

 

 

Most coherent report I have read on the erosion of degrees and the rise of assessing-for-work and amassing certifications as the competencies for the modern workplace. Jamai Blivin, of www.innovate-educate.org, and Merrilea Mayo, of Mayo Enterprises, have put in one report the history, current trends and the illogic for many people of paying for a retail bachelor’s degree when abundant certifications are beginning to prove themselves. Workforce and community colleges, this is a must-read. Kudos! 

Per Gordon Freedman on LinkedIn

 

 

For a next gen learning platform: A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related “apps” [Christian]

From DSC:
In a next generation learning system, it would be sharp/beneficial to have a Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities that you could turn on and off (at will) — as one component of your learning ecosystem that could feature a setup located in your living room or office.

For example, put a Netflix-like interface to the apps out at eduappcenter.com (i.e., using a rolling interface at first, then going to a static page/listing of apps…again…similar to Netflix).

 

A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related apps

 

 

 

2019 Top 10 IT Issues — from educause.edu

2019 Reveals Focus on “Student Genome”
In 2019, after a decade of preparing, higher education stands on a threshold. A new era of technology is ushering in myriad opportunities to apply data that supports and advances our higher ed mission. This threshold is similar to the one science stood on in the late 20th century: the prospect of employing technology to put genetic information to use meaningfully and ethically. Much in the same way, higher education must first “sequence” the data before we can apply it with any reliability or precision.

Our focus in 2019, then, is to organize, standardize, and safeguard data before applying it to our most pressing priority: student success.

The issues cluster into three themes:

  • Empowered Students: In their drive to improve student outcomes, institutions are increasingly focused on individual students, on their life circumstances, and on their entire academic journey. Leaders are relying on analytics and technology to make progress. Related issues: 2 and 4
  • Trusted Data: This is the work of the Student Genome Project, where the “sequencing” is taking place. Institutions are collecting, securing, integrating, and standardizing data and preparing the institution to use data meaningfully and ethically. Related issues: 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8
  • 21st Century Business Strategies: This is the leadership journey, in which institutions address today’s funding challenges and prepare for tomorrow’s more competitive ecosystem. Technology is now embedded into teaching and learning, research, and business operations and so must be embedded into the institutional strategy and business model. Related issues: 7, 9 and 10

 

 

 

 

Attention, college shoppers. These schools are slashing their prices. — from washingtonpost.com by Nick Anderson

Excerpt:

As soaring tuition scares off many families, a growing number of private colleges have embraced a marketing tactic associated more with selling airline tickets or flat-screen televisions than higher education: a price cut.

St. John’s College slashed tuition from $52,734 in this school year to $35,000 in the next.

The liberal arts school, with campuses in Maryland and New Mexico, joined more than 20 others nationwide that have reduced prices in the past three years.

The movement exposes a reality of higher education long hidden in plain sight: The difference between sticker prices and what the average student actually pays is often vast.

 

“Is that tenable? Is that right? Is that who we are?” asked Panayiotis Kanelos, president of the campus in Annapolis, Md. “Is it right for us to expect families to bear that burden?”

 

“Every time you raise the tuition, the screw gets tighter and tighter on families in the middle,” Kanelos said. “Something is broken in tuition pricing. We want to fix it now.”

 

 

Presentation Translator for PowerPoint — from Microsoft (emphasis below from DSC:)

Presentation Translator breaks down the language barrier by allowing users to offer live, subtitled presentations straight from PowerPoint. As you speak, the add-in powered by the Microsoft Translator live feature, allows you to display subtitles directly on your PowerPoint presentation in any one of more than 60 supported text languages. This feature can also be used for audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing.

 

Additionally, up to 100 audience members in the room can follow along with the presentation in their own language, including the speaker’s language, on their phone, tablet or computer.

 

From DSC:
Up to 100 audience members in the room can follow along with the presentation in their own language! Wow!

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?! If this could also address learners and/or employees outside the room as well, this could be an incredibly powerful piece of a next generation, global learning platform! 

Automatic translation with subtitles — per the learner’s or employee’s primary language setting as established in their cloud-based learner profile. Though this posting is not about blockchain, the idea of a cloud-based learner profile reminds me of the following graphic I created in January 2017.

A couple of relevant quotes here:

A number of players and factors are changing the field. Georgia Institute of Technology calls it “at-scale” learning; others call it the “mega-university” — whatever you call it, this is the advent of the very large, 100,000-plus-student-scale online provider. Coursera, edX, Udacity and FutureLearn (U.K.) are among the largest providers. But individual universities such as Southern New Hampshire, Arizona State and Georgia Tech are approaching the “at-scale” mark as well. One could say that’s evidence of success in online learning. And without question it is.

But, with highly reputable programs at this scale and tuition rates at half or below the going rate for regional and state universities, the impact is rippling through higher ed. Georgia Tech’s top 10-ranked computer science master’s with a total expense of less than $10,000 has drawn more than 10,000 qualified majors. That has an impact on the enrollment at scores of online computer science master’s programs offered elsewhere. The overall online enrollment is up, but it is disproportionately centered in affordable scaled programs, draining students from the more expensive, smaller programs at individual universities. The dominoes fall as more and more high-quality at-scale programs proliferate.

— Ray Schroeder

 

 

Education goes omnichannel. In today’s connected world, consumers expect to have anything they want available at their fingertips, and education is no different. Workers expect to be able to learn on-demand, getting the skills and knowledge they need in that moment, to be able to apply it as soon as possible. Moving fluidly between working and learning, without having to take time off to go to – or back to – school will become non-negotiable.

Anant Agarwal

 

From DSC:
Is there major change/disruption ahead? Could be…for many, it can’t come soon enough.

 

 

Can online learning help higher ed reverse its tuition spiral? — from edsurge.com by Robert Ubell (Columnist)

Excerpt:

Classic economic theory predicts that when demand falls, so do prices. But when it comes to the price of college in the past few decades, it’s been just the other way around.

As data from the National Student Clearinghouse Center shows, tuition has escalated even as enrollments fell.

 

 

The dispiriting result is that half of all low-income high school graduates, cowed by sticker shock, don’t even bother to fill-out applications to go to college. A report by the American Council on Education concludes: “The rapid price increases in recent years, especially in the public college sector, may have led many students—particularly low-income students—to think that college is out of reach financially.”

 

Still, colleges that have devoted imagination and commitment show that even with the financial stranglehold in which most schools are locked, the spiral can actually be arrested.

College leaders need to recognize that prices have shot up too far. In the next budget cycle, as they face their treacherous spreadsheets—and before they add yet another percentage point to next year’s tuition—they must act to roll back the perilous climb.

 

 

From DSC:
I agree with futurist Thomas Frey:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

(source)

 

Along these lines, see what Arizona State University is up to:

We think of this as a transformation away from a mass-production model to a mass-personalization model. For us, that’s the big win in this whole process. When we move away from the large lectures in that mass-production model that we’ve used for the last 170 years and get into something that reflects each of the individual learners’ needs and can personalize their learning path through the instructional resources, we will have successfully moved the education industry to the new frontier in the learning process. We think that mass personalization has already permeated every aspect of our lives, from navigation to entertainment; and education is really the next big frontier.

(source)

 

From DSC:
Each year the vision I outlined here gets closer and closer and closer and closer. With the advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), change is on the horizon…big time. Mass personalization. More choice. More control.

 

 

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