I thought it might be fun and informative to pose a challenge to several people whose opinions I respect.  I asked them to send me:

  • “A prediction – something that you think will happen in 2011.  You can be as bold or safe as you want.  These can be about teaching, learning, technology, business of e-learning, policy, regulations, student behavior, or other related items.  And/or a…
  • A hope – something that you hope to see in 2011.  Perhaps egging people on to make the world a better and safer place for all of us.”

The responses covered diverse topics including: mobile learning, analytics, accreditation, open educational resources, quality of e-learning, perceived quality, accountability, faculty development, and many calls for collaboration.  Below are 22 predictions and 14 hopes, depending on how you count.  A big thank you to our brave friends who peered into the future, wrote down what they saw, and are willing to put their names next to their prognostications.

Join the fun.  I invite you to comment or add your own predictions or hopes.


Word map of key words found in predictions and hopes

–WCET Leadership–

Ellen Wagner, Executive Director, WCET


  • Mobile learning in all of its rich and nuanced forms will finally become an obvious, self-evident solution for learning because we are finally focusing on meeting the needs of learners who are mobile.
  • Analytics will be the buzzphrase of the year. Much in the way that term “Web 2.0” became a cliché of the past 5 years, the word “analytics” will become a cliché for this next 5.


  • I hope people remember that the more networked and connected we are, the more mindful we should be about online manners.

Linda Thor, Chancellor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District
WCET Executive Committee Member


  • My prediction for 2011 is that the intersection of two pressures–budget reductions and the completion agenda–will finally lead higher education faculty and staff to collaborate across institutions to scale best practices and reduce unnecessary duplication in e-learning.


  • My hope for 2011 is that, in spite of budget reductions, higher education makes significant progress in eliminating the achievement gap by looking systemically at where and why we are losing students and creatively applying educational technologies to a mix of solutions.

Rhonda Epper, Assistant Provost, Colorado Community College System
Chair of the WCET Executive Committee


  • As institutional budgets remain constrained in 2011, policy leaders will increasingly look to online learning as a solution to providing access to greater numbers of students.  At the same time, we will see more backlash and questioning of the quality of online learning as a result of the fallout from improprieties in the for-profit sector, as well as from traditional faculty who are: a) concerned about job security, or b) genuinely concerned with the unchecked growth and quality of online learning.
  • I would not be surprised to see the vastly lower course retention rates of online learners (sometimes 20% below f2f courses) become more widely publicized and discussed.
  • Student authentication is not going away anytime soon, especially as regional accrediting agencies move forward with implementation of the new regulations.  While the regulations may not be as prescriptive as we had feared, I expect that institutions will be required to demonstrate more than a secure login and password to authenticate online learners.
  • eBooks will continue to gain traction as students become increasingly comfortable with the digital format.


  • That innovation and leadership will thrive within our institutions – overcoming institutional politics and resistance to change.
  • That WCET will grow in membership and influence as it takes on and brings clarity to some of the most complex issues in the field.

Karen Solomon, Vice President for Accreditation Relations, The Higher Learning Commission
Newly Elected to the WCET Steering Committee


  • I predict that our institutions will need to begin to develop strategies to handle scenarios when access to online courses may be disrupted long-term due to physical or technological issues. We run drills for emergencies in f2f classes, but do not appear to plan for emergencies for our online students.

–Leaders from Other Elearning Organizations–

Myk Garn, Director, Educational Technology, Southern Regional Education Board
Co-leader of WCET’s CatalystCAMP


  • People will realize the specter of “Google-Phoenix” predicted in the compelling EDU@2020 video produced by Richard Katz and Ron Yanosky over five years ago will never happen.  Because education is too small a goal (and impoverished market) for Google to go after.  Here is an outlaw link to the only version of the video I can find – it is recorded off a screen from a presentation in 2006: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1050148478310355725&q=richard+K%C3%A4tz+edu%402020#
  • The Kahn Academy will begin awarding certificates of completion for its lessons and will enable learners to assemble lessons into course and programs of their own design. Plans will be announced for “micro-credentials” awarded for course sets.  Because lessons remain free, no federal support will be needed, so Kahn announces it will not seek accreditation but will rely on “market validation” of learner-designed credentials.  The Gates Foundation doubles its support.


  • New tools will make it easier to merge 20th century work habits with 21st century technology tools and speeds – meaning I will finally have time to blog, twitter, post to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, read, review and respond to every RSS and email, text, Skype, ooVoo, Facetime and IM as  – without staying up until 2am.
  • Even as concerns grow about the plausibility and efficacy of student-directed (and in K12, parent-directed) learning increase, so too does our certainty that our current focus on improving how faculty teach is increasingly wrong and needs to be radically reframed in terms of how learners manage their own learning.

Janet Poley, President, The American Distance Education Consortium


  • Education committees in state legislatures will focus almost exclusively on how to fund quality and affordable public education in their state.  First target in higher education – how to save money by eliminating multiple layers of administration – movement toward consolidation of governing bodies.
  • States will continue the trend toward improving linkages among all public supported institutions in their state with technology being used in old and new ways. Focus will be on getting “greater value” and “maintaining and reducing costs”.  Dual enrollment, two plus two, one plus three, new versions of advanced placement, more creative blending of programs, public-private partnerships,  State economic development through research and development as well as skilled labor force for new businesses and replacement for retiring baby boomers more important.
  • Distance education and blended/hybrid learning will continue to grow at public colleges and universities in response to learner demand, faculty interest and experience base.
  • International cooperation in distance education will be stimulated with public and private funds resulting in development of creative partnerships between U.S. colleges and universities and counterpart institutions in other countries.


  • That 2011 can be the year to leave behind old practices (perhaps only because we have to) and use what we know about the use of technology to improve education.  I hope that the mentality becomes more like the triathlon and less like football.  This statement has implications for colleges and universities as well as for governance, professional associations and businesses.

Bruce Chaloux, Director, Student Access Programs and Services and Director, SREB’s Electronic Campus, Southern Regional Education Board
President, Sloan-C Board of Directors


  • The recent hullabaloo over the federal regulations concerning out-of-state approval/licensure will not have the kind of impact that many are fearing; new approaches will be established that will allow the continued growth and expansion of online efforts (note—see hope #1 below).
  • The continuing fallout from for-profits will not abate and will create new accountability standards for all postsecondary institutions (not only driven by the feds, but by states). We won’t like this but it’s probably a good thing for all of us.


  • Creative strategies for out-of-state licensure/approval that focus on reciprocity across state and regional boundaries will win out. A workable framework will be established upon which to build such a process.
  • Several organizations/entities with a direct focus on online learning will join forces to create a national “voice” for online/distance learning on key policy issues.

–People with Good Ideas–

Peter Smith, Senior Vice President, Academic Strategies & Development, Kaplan University
Vice Chair of Transparency by Design; Featured Speaker at 2010 WCET Annual Conference


  • New ways to recognize and assess all learning done by an individual and make it portable from college to college and between colleges and the workplace will be unveiled and implemented.


  • That we are able to refocus regional accreditation such that it can anticipate innovation and change and contribute constructively to both quality assurance and continuous improvement efforts at the institutional level

David Porter, Executive Director, BCcampus
Co-leader, WCET’s Elearning Consortia Common Interest Group


  • I predict that all the good work that has happened on the “open frontier” supported initially by individual leaders and special projects will begin to coalesce around a federation of practitioners who *will* agree on a core set of principles and practices to make “open” a sustainable mainstream model of practice.


  • I’m hoping that 2011 will be the year of the “massive collaborative endeavour,” and that a borderless education initiative of obvious purpose and worth will ignite a spirit of togetherness and collaboration and demonstrate resonant value for all who participate as partners toward a common good – free and open education.

Phil Ice, Director of Course Design, Research and Development, American Public University System
Helping WCET on Analytics Issues


  • Over the last eighteen months there has been a great deal of talk about predictive analytics for e-learning. While there are some decent products in the market, the fact is that there are none that are truly predictive. Rather current, commercially available applications rely on basic descriptive or inferential techniques. By the end of this year I think that will change. The first few, truly predictive products will come to market. They will likely be far from perfect, but they will give practitioners and administrators a taste of what is possible.


  • Managing and analyzing the deluge of data that institutions will be able to collect in the very near future will be so overwhelming that much of it will go unused, due to the lack of intellectual, human and structural capital. To realize the full potential of data there will be an increasing demand for interdisciplinary knowledge management professionals. While a few exemplary programs exist, I hope we see more institutions developing robust KM and Informatics programs to serve this critical needs area.


David Cillay, Associate Dean, Center for Distance and Professional Education, Washington State University


  • As budgets get tighter, colleges and universities will look to online and continuing education as a solution for this shortfall. This will result in closer alignment of online and continuing education units with the general university.


  • As that alignment tightens, the online and continuing education units will continue with the work that has made them so effective and that hopefully, that work will influence/modify the way the general university does business—not the other way around.

Scott Leslie, Client Services Manager, BCcampus and “Raving Educational Technologist


  • I predict that 2011 will be the year of the OpenTextbook. Textbook costs are out of sight, the economy is not going to get significantly better, and institutions and students are going to need to look to any place they can cut costs. This is prime, and unlike other OER projects in the past, there is a real and pressing internal economic need and motivator to make this happen.  There has already been some great innovation in Open Textbooks, from the likes of CCOER (http://oerconsortium.org/discipline-specific/) to Washington State’s Open Course Library Project (http://opencourselibrary.wikispaces.com/), but 2011 will represent the year when this approach “crosses the chasm” – not only we will see many more new OpenTextbook projects, but we will see new authoring platforms and strategies that include campus bookstores and libraries.


  • My hope for 2011 is that collectively, Higher Education institutions realize that even in the midst of these financially tough times, there is a battle still raging over control of culture and knowledge and the means production and distribution of same. And I hope we can realize that far from being a distraction, continuing to engage and push back as a key body representing the needs and rights of the Commons is not just an academic and moral necessity but indeed should be seen as a key long term strategy in demonstrating the continued societal relevance of their institutions (especially public ones.)

Cable Green, Director of eLearning & Open Education, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges


  • That K-20 educational institutions make “open licensing on all publicly funded content” the default… rather than the exception.
  • Big idea: Taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources.  Information that is designed, developed and distributed through the generosity of public tax dollars should be accessible to the public that paid for it — without artificial restrictions and/or limits.
  • Possible Policy: Any [insert your State here] public or private K-20 education institution that receives any state operating, capital or student financial aid funding shall openly license (creative commons attribution licensing) and share, in a common open repository, all instructional resources created in part or in whole with state funding including: courses, textbooks, course packs, lesson plans, syllabi, slides, lecture notes, audio and video, simulations, academic journals, research data, digital labs, and other educational materials.
  • Slogan(s):

o   You should get what you paid for.

o   Public access to publicly funded educational materials.

Angie McQuaig, Director of Data Innovation, Apollo Group (one of our friends connected with the University of Phoenix)


  • I predict that educators will sweepingly reject one-size-fits-all models of instruction in favor of individualized, data-driven learning experiences that optimize engagement and outcomes for every student.


  • I hope that institutions of learning at all levels will collaborate with one another to improve teaching and learning in unprecedented and scalable ways.

Russ Poulin
Deputy Director, WCET

7 replies on “Predictions and Hopes for Elearning in 2011”

All good stuff. I have to add a trend that is finally being discussed and applied (locally, anyway) in our high school: The notion of “Flipping” the classroom, such that what was once done in the classroom (the lecture) is now done anytime/anywhere via podcasts, and what was done at home (working problems, case studies, etc.) is now done collaboratively in the classroom. THAT is a game changer, and after it happens in K-12 it’ll be that much easier in post-secondary.

Hope: More institutions realize that Open Educational Resources ( OER ) is a pathway to enhance learning and that sharing could be embraced by institutions & students beyond boundaries & be truly global. If we can direct resources away from repetition we will achieve so much more.

All of this is very compelling but it goes all over the map. My prediction is that the role of faculty in higher education institutions is going to become more and more confused . Senior faculty will become increasingly concerned about tenure and/or job security. The culture of higher education is in a state of flex not seen since the early 50s when”general education” was the name of the game. None of the predictions noted above really capture the total significance of what is happening.

Prediction: Data will be king…schools will produce data and use it to make educated decisions about what products/services to keep and what to cut. Gone are the days of adding things to a program because it looked nice or felt good. Using business intelligence will be key in carefully spending shrinking budgets.

Hope: Schools won’t go into budget panic and begin cutting programs that are essential to student success. I hope schools will carefully count the cost of omitting student services and mentor programs in hopes to save a dime. With a little research they may find saving a dime is costing them a dollar. It may prove to be a money saver to keep a few programs in place to help retention and increase student engagement.

Comments are closed.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,424 other subscribers

Archive By Month

Blog Tags

Distance Education (320)Student Success (300)Online Learning (231)Managing Digital Learning (224)State Authorization (219)WCET (215)U.S. Department of Education (209)Regulation (201)Technology (169)Digital Learning (151)Innovation (125)Teaching (121)Collaboration/Community (114)WCET Annual Meeting (105)Course Design (103)Access (99)Professional Development (98)SAN (92)Faculty (89)Cost of Instruction (88)Financial Aid (84)Legislation (83)Completion (74)Assessment (69)Instructional Design (68)Open Educational Resources (66)Accreditation (65)COVID-19 (64)SARA (64)Accessibility (63)Professional Licensure (63)Credentials (62)Competency-based Education (61)Quality (61)Data and Analytics (60)Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (59)Research (58)Reciprocity (57)WOW Award (51)Outcomes (47)Workforce/Employment (46)Regular and Substantive Interaction (43)Negotiated Rulemaking (42)Policy (42)Higher Education Act (41)Virtual/Augmented Reality (37)Title IV (36)Practice (35)Academic Integrity (34)Disaster Planning/Recovery (34)Leadership (34)Artificial Intelligence (32)Every Learner Everywhere (30)WCET Awards (30)State Authorization Network (29)IPEDS (28)Adaptive/Personalized Learning (28)Reauthorization (28)Military and Veterans (27)Survey (27)Credits (26)Disabilities (25)MOOC (23)WCET Summit (23)Evaluation (22)Complaint Process (21)Retention (21)Enrollment (21)Correspondence Course (18)Physical Presence (17)WICHE (17)Cybersecurity (16)Products and Services (16)Forprofit Universities (15)Member-Only (15)WCET Webcast (15)Blended/Hybrid Learning (14)System/Consortia (14)Digital Divide (14)NCOER (14)Textbooks (14)Mobile Learning (13)Consortia (13)Personalized Learning (12)Futures (11)Marketing (11)Privacy (11)STEM (11)Prior Learning Assessment (10)Courseware (10)Teacher Prep (10)Social Media (9)LMS (9)Rankings (9)Standards (8)Student Authentication (8)Partnership (8)Tuition and Fees (7)Readiness and Developmental Courses (7)What's Next (7)International Students (6)K-12 (6)Lab Courses (6)Nursing (6)Remote Learning (6)Testing (6)Graduation (6)Proctoring (5)Closer Conversation (5)ROI (5)DETA (5)Game-based/Gamification (5)Dual Enrollment (4)Outsourcing (4)Coding (4)Security (4)Higher Education Trends (4)Mental Health (4)Fall and Beyond Series (3)In a Time of Crisis (3)Net Neutrality (3)Universal Design for Learning (3)Cheating Syndicates Series (3)ChatGPT (3)Enrollment Shift (3)Nontraditional Learners (2)Student Identity Verification (2)Cross Skilling/Reskilling (2)Virtual Summit (2)Higher Education (2)Title IX (1)Business of Higher Education (1)OPMs (1)Department of Education (1)Third-Party Servicers (1)microcredentials (1)Minority Serving Institution (1)equity (1)Community College (1)