eLearning predictions for 2011 and beyond — from Web Courseworks.com by Jon Aleckson


This summer I attended the 2010 Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Some very interesting topics came up in the facilitated Think Tanks, and I wanted to share some of the predictions that were developed from these active group discussions regarding where eLearning will go in the next ten years.

Below you will find a table that summarizes the different opportunities and challenges that were predicted to arise in the next ten years by the participants in the conference Think Tanks and by [Jon Aleckson].

Opportunities Challenges
  1. Bridging informal and formal education
  2. Movement between schools to obtain courses needed for custom degrees
  3. Increase in shared knowledge among students and learners
  4. Networking and learning from each other
  5. Resumes will include informal and formal learning experiences acquired via the Internet
  1. Developing standards to gauge education and competency from multiple sources
  2. Providing an authoritative, reliable source for information (e.g. not just Wikipedia)
  3. Physical and psychological distance from other learners and instructors.
  4. Quality measures for informal and formal professional development attained on the Internet.
K-12 Instruction
  1. Reducing barriers to funding, certification, credit and accreditation
  2. Increase access to quality education for all students
  3. Open “course” concept to new blends of delivery and teaching
  4. Providing for more game-based learning experiences and techniques for a variety of learning styles
  5. Using new technology in the classroom
  1. Defining online and blended education
  2. Development of technical infrastructure, internet access and equipment
  3. Maintaining the custodial function of school
  4. Acquiring funding for bold Internet delivered experiences for the classroom
  5. Allowing use of new technology in the classroom
Corporate Training
  1. Just-in-time learning
  2. Greater access to information
  3. Peer coaching
  4. Cloud training
  5. Ability to reach those previously unreachable
  1. Intellectual property rights
  2. Resistance to using open content
  3. Peer review of resources
  4. Unknown impact of open universities
  5. Technical challenges related to size of offerings and rapidly changing technology
  1. Tools allowing for easier collaboration and interaction
  2. Richer media experience (videos and simulations)
  3. Content repositories & Learning Object distribution and searchability
  4. Movement away from static textbooks as primary resource
  1. Growing tension between standard core content and differentiation of content
  2. Where will content for curriculum come from?
  3. What part will student-generated content play?
  4. More copyright issues
Learning Environment
  1. Customized learning spaces, i.e. personal learning environments (PLEs)
  2. Customization of content presentation and access
  3. eReaders and eBooks providing better and more interactive content (just in time)
  4. Changing paradigm of “bounded courses” to unbounded courses where learning is a continuous process that can occur anywhere and at any time
  1. Determining fit and purpose of new tools and pedagogical approaches
  2. Standards for smart phones/mobile apps
  3. Issues with accreditation, privacy and copyrights
  4. Universal access to technology, equipment, and the internet
  1. More involvement and collaboration with online and distance learning initiatives
  2. More part-time faculty teaching for several institutions
  3. Faculty practices and entrepreneurs
  4. Changing role of faculty and PD instructors
  1. What will the primary role of faculty be?
  2. Faculty segmentation into master teachers, mentors, researchers, tutors, etc.
  3. Changing of promotion and tenure to accommodate different roles
  4. Changing pay structure
  1. Continued growth of open education with some program stabilization
  2. Improved learner focus
  3. Increased blending/blurring of traditional on-campus with online options
  4. More collaboration with other administrators to influence policy makers
  1. Managing and maintaining growth
  2. How to blend on and off campus learner programs
  3. Regulatory and accreditation issues
  4. Student accountability issues (plagiarism/doctoring)
  5. Improving faculty/ instructor readiness
International Perspectives
  1. Providing access to education even to remote, rural, and developing areas
  2. Promote intercultural mixing and diversity through education
  3. Improving educational access in segregated societies
  4. Sharing resources and co-producing content to reduce cost
  5. Serve new growing customer groups
  6. Informal learning, sharing own learning with others via internet (e.g. blogs, wiki)
  1. Technological infrastructure of societies
  2. Understanding of different people and places
  3. Eliminating the “we and they” thinking
  4. Illiterate audiences
  5. International/cultural conflicts
  6. Developing culturally aware curricula
  7. Differences in cost of education and fees
  8. Selecting suitable types of content delivery
  9. Refiguring content for different learner communities

Here are a couple of items from David Álvarez regarding his view of a PLE:


…and an animated version can be found at:


Thanks David,

A World to Change — Stephen Downes at the Huffington Post

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three pressing challenges — 2/26/10 posting from D’Arcy Norman dot net

Three pressing challenges for learners in creating and using technology in an educational context.

1. control and ownership

2. overwhelming options

3. literacy

4. Solution?
The only solution I can think of is to just dive in. To live with a whole bunch of technologies. To not see them as separate, distinct, or extra, but rather as just the way things work. Write a blog. Publish a newsletter. Manage a wiki. Shoot some video. Post photos. Just spend time doing it. Manage your own personal cyberinfrastructure. Build your personal learning environment. Engage your personal learning network(s). They are there already, you just need to tap into them (emphasis DSC as this describes a Learning Ecosystem).

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From DSC:
The following article got me to thinking of the future again…

Thousands to lose jobs as universities prepare to cope with cuts — from guardian.co.uk (original posting from Stephen Downes)
Post-graduates to replace professors | Staff poised to strike over proposals of cuts

I post this here because I believe that we are at the embryonic stages of some massive changes that will take place within the world of higher education. The timeframe for these changes, as always, is a bit uncertain. However, I would expect to see some of the following changes to occur (or continue to occur) yet this year:

  • Cost cutting
  • The cutting of programs
  • Laying off of staff and faculty
  • Not filling open positions
  • More outsourcing
  • The move towards using more cloud-based-computing models
  • The movement of students to lower-cost alternatives
  • Greater utilization of informal learning
  • The rise of online-exchange oriented offerings (i.e. the matching up of those who teach a subject and those who want to learn that subject)
  • The threat to traditional ways of doing things and to traditional organizations — including accreditation agencies — will cause people within those agencies to be open to thinking differently (though this one will take longer to materialize)
  • The continued growth of online learning — albeit at a greatly-reduced price
  • …and more.

This isn’t just about a recession. The Internet is changing the game on yet another industry — this time, it’s affecting those of us in the world of higher education. When the recession’s over, we won’t be going back to the way higher education was set up previous to the year 2010.

What did those us of in higher education learn from what happened to the music industry? What did we learn from what happened to the video distribution/entertainment business? To the journalism industry? To the brokerage business? To the travel and hospitality industries? To the bookstores of the world?

Along these lines…back at the end of 2008, I posted a vision entitled, The Forthcoming Walmart of Education. So, where are we on that vision? Well…so far we have:

  • Straighterline.com
  • A significant open courseware movement, including MIT Open Courseware, the Open Courseware Consortium, Connexions, Open Content Alliance, OpenLearn, Intute, Globe, Open Yale Courses, Open Education, The Internet Archive and many others
  • University of the People
  • YouTube.edu
  • iTunes U
  • Academic Earth
  • and more…

I realize that several of these items were in place before or during 2008…however, at that time, there was no dominant, inexpensive alternative. And there still isn’t one that has jumped into the lead (the University of Phoenix with their 150,000+ students doesn’t qualify, as their pricing is not yet nearly aggressive enough as what I’m predicting will occur).

Though we aren’t there yet, there has been significant change that has already taken place. So…if I were an administrator right now, I’d be asking myself the following key questions:

  • Can we reduce tuition and fees by at least 50%? If not, how can some of our offerings be delivered at half the price (or more)?
  • How are we going to differentiate ourselves?
  • How are we going to deliver value?
  • How are we going to keep from becoming a commodity?
  • Are we using teams to create and deliver our courses? If not, why not? What’s our plans for staying competitive if we don’t use teams?

Most likely, further massive changes are forthcoming.  So fasten your seatbelts and try to stay marketable!

Trends in Personal Learning — from Stephen Downes

From Stephen:
February 4, 2010 — [Slides][Audio] Audio and slides from my presentation last night, Trends in Personal Learning [presentation delivered to  Canberra, Australia, online via Wimba]. Review of major trends in technology – personal access, content creation, presentation and conferencing, networking and community, immersion and simulation, augmented reality – and discussion of how these define and inform personal learning.

From DSC:
One of the slides is seen below — another good example that we are talking about an ever-changing range of tools, techniques, and methods of teaching and learning:

As Stephen mentions, this graphic is from:

Digital Tools Expand Options for Personalized Learning — from EdWeek.org by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Digital tools for defining and targeting students’ strengths and weaknesses could help build a kind of individualized education plan for every student.

Teachers have always known that a typical class of two dozen or more students can include vastly different skill levels and learning styles. But meeting those varied academic needs with a defined curriculum, time limitations, and traditional instructional tools can be daunting for even the most skilled instructor.

Some of the latest technology tools for the classroom, however, promise to ease the challenges of differentiating instruction more creatively and effectively, ed-tech experts say, even in an era of high-stakes federal and state testing mandates. New applications for defining and targeting students’ academic strengths and weaknesses can help teachers create a personal playlist of lessons, tools, and activities that deliver content in ways that align with individual needs and optimal learning methods.

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David Hopkins’ PLE — as seen on dontwasteyourtime.co.uk

David Hopkins' PLE

Also see the others at:
PLE / Personal Learning Environment: What’s yours like? | eLearning Blog Dont Waste Your Time

From DSC:
This is yet another valuable part of the learning ecosystem it seems to me — one’s PLE / VLE.

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My Personal Learning Environment — from Mark Wigan [UK]

” Personal Learning Environments  are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to

  • set their own learning goals(review)
  • manage their learning; managing both content and process
  • communicate with others in the process of learning
  • and thereby achieve learning goals.”


(see Mark’s posting for further details)

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Learning Ecosystems -- by Daniel S. Christian

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My objective with this blog is to provide you with a broad-range of insights and resources regarding some tools, technologies, and strategies that help people learn and communicate.  I address elements that relate to the worlds of higher education, K-12, and the corporate training/development.  I seek to identify and relay patterns and trends in the quickly-changing landscapes out there, helping folks keep a pulse check on such items as:

  • 1:1 computing, AI, personalized learning
  • “The Forthcoming Walmart of Education”; changing business models, opportunities, and threats within the world of higher education
  • The disruptive power of technology
  • What elements should be in your learning ecosystem
  • “Learning from the Living Room”
  • Keeping students engaged
  • Digital storytelling
  • Multimedia (tools, techniques, trends, other)
  • Mobile learning
  • Building your global network
  • Instructional design
  • Web design and production
  • …as well as other educationally-related topics.

To get an idea of my views on the above topics — along with some of the other topics I’ve covered in the last 3 years — please feel free to review my personal site at Calvin College.  Here’s an example archives page covering all of 2009:  http://www.calvin.edu/~dsc8/announcement_archives_2009.htm

I look forward to our future discussions as we try to make our individual and corporate contributions to the worlds of education…thereby making the entire world a better place.

Daniel S. Christian

Daniel S. Christian
© 2024 | Daniel Christian