A few weeks ago we asked you to: “Predict something that will happen this year regarding teaching, learning, technology, business of e-learning, policy, regulations, student behavior, or other related items.”  Some people see big changes for higher education.  Will higher ed be changed significantly? Will 2013 see some issue that captures the media hype that was showered on MOOCs?

Thank you to all who submitted your prognostications, which included these academic outcomes:

  • better academic integrity technologies, and
  • demonstrated competencies will begin to trump degree

Several people saw it as the “year of” some activity, including:

  • hyflex learning,
  • mobile learning,
  • the importance of faculty and the teacher student relationship, and
  • higher ed providing better defense of its practices in the face of mounting criticism.

In policy and operations, we can look forward to:

Photo of a cathedral being reflected in a crystal ball
Will 2013 Turn Our Institutions Upside Down?
  • more emphasis on affordability of higher education for students,
  • more real collaboration with our K-12 colleagues,
  • a shift in distance enrollments from for-profits to non-profits,
  • student support will improve, and
  • state authorization will go away (although this was expressed as a wish rather than a prediction).

Of course, if we’re looking at the future, someone has to opine on MOOCs:

  • MOOCs will award credit,
  • will become monetized, and
  • for some institutions, will no longer be massive, no longer be free, and will not be open.  (Hmmm…isn’t  that a distance education class?)

Corey Davis of Our Lady of the Lake University, had some of the most amusing thoughts about hype including this tongue-in-cheek-I-think prediction:  “Some university will create the first online course to be delivered entirely through text-messaging.”  Someone could do it! Maybe they already have??

As for my thoughts, I think that we are seeing just the tip of the political iceberg on the issue of keeping college affordable for students.  Legislators, Congressional representatives, Governors, and even the President have talked about this issue and more of them are taking action.  The question “how can technology help?” will continue to be asked.  We better be ready with an answer.

Below are the full submissions that I referenced above, as well as links to lists of predictions from several other sources.  If you would like to comment on this post with your prediction, please do so.  Enjoy!


We’ll Curb Student Cheating
Online student authentication biometric technologies and online proctoring systems will become more reliable and affordable.
Andrea Henne — San Diego Community College District

Credentialing will Change
Non-Degree offerings will change Master’s Degrees, particularly for professional degrees in Business, Technology, or Teaching where the workplace is no longer looking for a degree but need specialized competencies.
Sue Talley — Capella University

The Faculty Strike Back
The coming year will be one when faculty rise up in response to the completion agenda, more budget cuts, the implications of MOOCs on adjunct and even tenured faculty, credit for prior learning and issues related to curriculum control and outsourcing.  Unions will be prominent in the news. New spokespeople for the importance of faculty and the teacher student relationship will emerge.
Gary Brown — Portland State University

MOOCs Become Credit-worthy
My prediction is that there will be an increase in the number of institutions having a policy and a process for awarding/accepting college credit for MOOCs or other free or low cost courses such as from straighterline.com.
Frances Rowe — Quinnipiac University Online

The Year of HyFlex
The redefined traditional student – the part-time student, full-time worker, parent/caregiver – and the US economy will force many urban public institutions to consider HyFlex as a primary delivery mode. HyFlex will trend toward the norm.
Yolanda Columbus —  University of North Texas at Dallas


The Year of Mobile
With a fast new wifi standard about to be released, and the inundation of BYOD, including the usual ios and android devices, and ubuntu making a grand entrance, and Microsoft trying to regain attention, this will be the year of mobile computing.
Jacques du Plessis — UW Milwaukee

Organized Technology in Education Chaos will Continue and Get Worse for Some

  1. Schools that embrace the organized chaos will succeed in bringing a new world to their students and teachers.  Those schools that yield to students’ knowledge of technology and allow them to guide where time and effort is spent, will reap great rewards.  Administrators will watch and listen to their students to discover where to meet them.  The most popular social network, the most user friendly mobile device, and the best terminology that relates to your students’ demographic will be key in managing the plethora of “latest and greatest”.  Less time will be spent on small talk with acquaintances and more time on cultivating relationships (so to speak).
  2. Schools that have a well-balanced staff and faculty, who are grounded in ethical standards, have genuine concern for students, and willing to be pioneers will use the opportunities that the 2013 world of technology provides.  School officials who lead by example in embracing technology, rewarding initiative, and providing flexibility to make it work will help their school and students rise to the top.  Small school size and slashed budgets will no longer be considered road blocks in having a strong technology component in education.

Julie Owen — Smarter Services


More MOOCs, but Not Massive and Not Open
I predict that MOOC’s will gain in popularity, but they will no longer be free unless students apply for and are accepted into the college that offers them, and that they all will require proctored exams.  They will simply become the new recruiting mechanism for universities to attract new students and get them in the door.  (As this is already happening, it may not count as a prediction at all.)
Lisa Ciardulli — Broward College Online

MOOCs Monetized
Some company will monetize MOOCs and the fervor will shift to competency-based models.
Luke Dowden — University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Shift from For-profit to Non-profit
This year we’ll see a greater emphasis on transparency in higher education which will contribute to a decline in the number of students enrolled in for-profit institutions. Non-profit institutions will increase their share of the online/distance sector as faculty become more engaged and students opt for well-established programs at institutions with solid reputations.
Gera Burton — Mizzou Online

We Will See Unprecedented K-12 Collaboration
My prediction for 2013 is that we will see unprecedented collaboration and cooperation across the K-20 continuum.  This will be much different from the historical brand of collaboration that is more focused on either securing or distributing funds. The new collaboration will be based in the realization that our basic tenets of K-12 and higher ed will only be fulfilled if we leverage shared infrastructure, common teaching/learning resources, and an open data environment that will truly allow for turning data into knowledge, and knowledge in to action to improve the overall teaching/learning experience. This marriage of the technology and expected outcomes based upon common resources will begin a process that will see investments based upon a data-driven K-20 decision process. In short,we will see a coalescence of the discussion of broadband, Common Core, Predictive Analytics, Teacher Preparation, Research collaboration, etc., and a focus on using what we know to do what we need to do for our students and faculty. This process is unification, not centralization. 2013 is the beginning of the new era of education that will focus on construction of a much more individually tailored educational environment that is open, and shared, not closed and based upon silos and the limits of proprietary tools.
Mike Abbiatti — Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network

Student Affordability Forces Changes in Collegiate Business Models
In 2013 budget-minded, fiscally-conservative students will offer significant resistance to loan debt. This will lead to a rise in discount educators – a Walmart version of higher education. Mid-level schools will feel the financial strain. A polarizing effect will stretch higher education between the discount schools and the top-tier, and top-dollar, schools. Both ends of the polarity will thrive but schools in the middle will begin to fail at an increasing rate. This will force more collaboration and innovation at the mid-level range leading to the adoption of novel business models and novel educational models.
Chad Maxson — Travecca Nazarene University

Higher Ed Strikes Back
Progressives in higher education will begin to push back hard against all the criticism targeted at our industry.
Luke Dowden — University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Distance Learning Institutions that Pay Attention to Processes Will Succeed
The University of Alabama wins its third National Championship in a row.  How is that prediction relevant to distance learning?  The head coach of the Crimson Tide has one main message to his players – “Process.”  He emphasizes constantly the importance of the process.  A well-defined process that is followed closely by everyone in the organization will produce winning results.  For his football team this process includes everything from nutrition, weight lifting, conditioning, studying film and rest.  Educational leaders, especially in the field of distance learning, can easily be swept along by every fad and new technology.  But at the end of the day, those things often do not yield lasting, consistent results.  Leaders must identify the process that is most appropriate for their organization to yield measurable results in student learning.  Then they must constantly “coach” everyone in the organization to consistently follow that process.  My prediction is that the distance learning programs which are the most successful will be those will well defined processes for everything from marketing, enrollment, advising, student services, instructional design, instruction and assessment.
Mac Adkins — Smarter Services

Lower Costs/Increased Quality in Higher Ed
As it turns out, our CEO recently posted his own thoughts on what will come to the forefront in 2013, and I thought that I would share: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-devine/the-cost-vs-quality-conun_b_2346940.html.  You will notice that he predicts five major trends in 2013, all under the umbrella theme of lowering costs while increasing quality in higher education:

  1. Proliferation of educational analytics
  2. Increased functionality of campus technology infrastructure
  3. Growth of hybrid classes
  4. Evolution of the Flipped Classroom
  5. Open Source Moves from No Cost to Low Cost

Nani Jansen — CourseSmart

State Authorization Goes Away
The end of state authorizations for online learning.  Oops, I thought you were asking for our 2013 Wish List.
Angela Auzenne — Dallas County Community College District


Improved Student Support Beyond the Classroom
Over the last 10 years or so, the distance learning sector has grown exponentially. Institutions have done an excellent job adapting to the changing learning environment. Several different learning technologies have made learning online better. We’ve seen the development and advancement of learning management systems that give online students the feeling of being in a classroom. We’ve seen tutoring go online so that online learners have access to that integral part of learning as well. These are just a couple examples of how distance educators everywhere are getting smarter about doing online learning to give the student the best chance to succeed. My prediction for 2013 is that you will see institutions continue to improve the way they do distance learning by identifying student weaknesses and better preparing those students for the experience. Many institutions are now seeing that student success in an online course is more dependent on non-cognitive factors than in a traditional classroom. I think that institutions will really focus on addressing these factors to give their students the best chance to succeed.
Alan Manley — Smarter Services

Hype Will Go Hyper
I predict:

  1. Some university will create the first online course to be delivered entirely through text-messaging.
  2. Some other device or technology will overtake the iPad as the go-to-device for mobile learning.
  3. Universities will funnel most of their general education courses and/or remedial education through home-grown or boutique massively open online courses (MOOCs) – or at least one university will announce their plans to do so.
  4. Mobile learning will rule the world (and by “world” I don’t just mean the United States, which is where most predictions are located. I literally mean the world.)

Corey Davis — Our Lady of the Lake University


Gartner Predicts Cloud, Social, Mobile, and Information Forces Will Shape 2013


Tony Bates’ Outlook for Online Learning in 2013: Online Learning Comes of Age


2013 EdTech Predictions: An Interview with Michael Feldstein


2013 EdTech Predictions: An Interview with Adrian Sannier


Ton Ten Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2013 from the American Association of State Colleges


13 Predictions (+1 More) for Mobile and Mobile Learning in 2013


E-learning trends: what to expect in 2013 from Source: BizCommunity.com

Link: http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/98/87668.html

What Can You Expect in 2013 from Chief Learning Officer


Here Comes 2013: The Big Themes in Learning from MindShift


Russell Poulin
Deputy Director, Research and Analysis
WCET – WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies
Twitter:  wcet_info and RussPoulin

Photo courtesy of Pandora’s Perspective on Flickr.

3 replies on “E-learning Predictions for 2013: Will Institutions Be Turned Upside Down?”


I was dead serious when I predicted, “Some university will create the first online course to be delivered entirely through text-messaging.” I was talking me. It’s a research and student success initiative called “Mobile U” that I began developing 3 years ago. The project emerged from work I was doing as Executive Director of Odessa College’s alternative online college-within-a-college. At that time I was looking for ways to increase college access and degree attainment for transient Latino oil field workers in West Texas and their families, where the cell phone, particularly text-messaging, was not only their primary or preferred mode of communication, it was their only one. I wondered if I created courses that could be delivered through text messaging (which don’t require expensive data plans and internet connections), would that help the cause. So I began, more as a challenge to myself, to see what it would take to develop and deliver academic transfer college courses (AND student support services) completely through text messaging. I’ll reveal my initial findings at Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Student Success and The Quality Agenda conference April 4-6, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The title of my talk is called Mobile U: Mobile Learning (and MOOCs) for the Have Lots and Have Nots. Below is the description that will appear in the conference program. Additional conference information is online at http://www.aacu.org/meetings/studentsuccess13/index.cfm.

Mobile U: Mobile Learning (and MOOCs) for the Have Lots and Have Nots
Mobile learning has been touted as the future of education, and the center of that universe appears to be the iPad. Unfortunately, the iPad’s cost is cost‐prohibitive, especially for first‐generation low‐income (FGLI) students, the group most at risk in higher education. Yet studies indicate that mobile technology is an effective tool to reach, teach and we believe graduate FGLI students. Mobile U is Our Lady of the Lake University’s ambitious technologyand pedagogy‐based initiative that re‐conceptualizes mobile learning (and along with it, massively open online courses, or MOOCs) as an engaging college pathway for the privileged and the poor and anybody anywhere in between. Participants will learn about the role of mobile technology in the lives of FGLI students and the implications for teaching and learning caused by mobile learning. Corey Davis, Director of Online Learning—Our Lady of the Lake University

Corey Davis
Director of Online Learning
Our Lady of the Lake University

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