January 7, 2014

In January of last year 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.”

Given that broad request, it is not surprising that we received prognostications that were all over the map. Some were quite specific while others were vague visions of a utopian future, personal statements of belief (that’s the way things should be!), or fervent hopes disguised as predictions.

Photo of Luke Dowden with a certificate.
Luke Dowden of the University of Louisiana Lafayette proudly displays his “WCET Seeing the Future” award.

It’s a year later.  How did you do?  What do you predict for 2014?

The Top Prediction
Following our tradition, the person with the top prediction from last year holds the honor of selecting the top forecast for this year.  Marie Cini, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at University of Maryland University of College, selected Luke Dowden, director of Distance Learning at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, as this year’s winner. Luke’s winning entry:

“Some company will monetize MOOCs and the fervor will shift to competency-based models.”

Marie’s reasoning:

“I chose ‘MOOCS Monetized’ because although all the predictions are solid, in most cases they did not have a metric associated that would give us a ‘yes/no’ answer. Most trends are moving at varying speeds across the educational landscape. But in 2013 Coursera announced their initial revenues to the tune of 1 million dollars…and the fervor over MOOCs has truly shifted to competency-based, with President Obama’s recent speech on affordable education. So congratulations, Luke Dowden, for his very specific prediction that came true.”

Honorable Mention
Other entries that displayed remarkable prescience include:

  • The faculty strike back by Gary Brown (AAEEBL):  “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.”
    What happened?: While not all of that happened, San Jose State’s faculty were certainly vocal about the MOOC experiment on their campus and the New Faculty Majority (which advocates for adjunct faculty) became more visible.
  • Competencies and credentialing by Sue Talley (Capella University):  “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.”
    What happened?:  While there was not a wholesale change on this front, the issues of badges and alternative credentialing kept appearing.  Mozilla’s Open Badges experienced 1,400% growth and the emerging competency-based programs value demonstrated knowledge over seat time. Even MOOC providers seemed to realize that they needed to offer more meaningful credentials as credit-based and authenticated MOOC certificates emerged.
  • Student affordability forces changes in collegiate business models by Chad Maxson of Travecca Nazarene University: “In 2013, budget-minded, fiscally-conservative students will offer significant resistance to loan debt. This will lead to discount educators – a Walmart version of higher education. Mid-level schools will feel the financial strain.”
    What happened?: The rise of Straighterline, Khan Academy, and other low or no-cost providers did not start in 2013, but most of them were strengthened this year.  What impact will these new providers have on traditional institutions?
  • State authorization goes away by Angela Auzenne of Dallas County Community College District: “The end of state authorization for online learning.  Oops, I thought you were asking for our 2013 wish list.”
    What happened?:  The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is well on its way.

Finally, my condolences to Mac Adkins of Smarter Services who used a sports analogy about coaches (or managers in their roles as coaches) paying attention to “process.” Such attention to detail lead to the recent success of the University of Alabama football team.  That led him to predict a third straight national collegiate football championship for the Crimson Tide.  Well…there was a third straight national collegiate football championship, but it was the North Dakota State University Bison (pronounced Bizon) that did the trick last Saturday.

Make Your Prediction for 2014
You are invited to join in the fun for 2014.  Predict something that will happen this year regarding teaching, learning, technology, business of e-learning, policy, regulations, student behavior, or other related items. You can submit your entry as a comment to this blog post or by sending an email to me at rpoulin@wiche.edu with the subject “2013 Prediction” by Friday January 24.

Polish your crystal ball and join the fun.

Happy New Year from all of us at WCET.

Russ Poulin
WCET – WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies

Support our work.  Join WCET.

4 replies on “Predictions from 2013: MOOCs and Competency-based Education Top Pick”

In 2014 the shift will be to discussions about credit and quality, both in the MOOC world and in the world of more traditional methods of distance education. I think we will do some in-depth work on learning how community and interaction play a huge role in student success in online learning, as we are informed by an increase in data from learning analytics and by conversations with experienced distance educators and their students.

Online learning market-based innovations requires a participative approach (with higher education faculty, administrators, and staff collaboration) to maintain quality e-learning operations.

Open online courses will become more plentiful with smaller levels of enrolment. As the hype reduces, organisations and individuals will produce cheaper open courses with lower production values but which are not necessarily less effective.

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