Top 5 Ed Tech Predictions for 2012

I originally published this article on the ZDNet Education blog, but wanted to share it here as well. I also wanted to explain why 2012 won’t be “the year of the virtual classroom”. It certainly would have been better marketing schtick for WizIQ, wouldn’t it?

Let’s start with my predictions, though. You can read the full article here, but I’ve summarized them below:

  1. Analytics and BI will go mainstream – It’s all about the data, folks, and not just collecting the data at a micro level as we’ve been doing for years, but actually using at both macro and micro levels with sophisticated enterprise-level tools to back us up.
  2. Google’s tablet will NOT be the holy grail of 1:1 – Too pricey, this tablet will compete in places where the iPad already has a strong foothold. Now if there was a budget $300 model, we could start talking holy grail.
  3. BYOD will make 1:1 possible in a big way – Few schools can afford to supply homogeneous devices to all of their students, but few can deny that the time has come for a laptop or tablet on every desk. Schools won’t have much choice but to embrace them and implement the systems needed to make them work well in education.
  4. Khan Academy, et al, will give publishers and mainstream educators a run for their money – Open resources of incredible quality are growing and maturing rapidly. Publishers and struggling teachers will start to feel the pinch this year.
  5. We will say goodbye to a lot more libraries and hello to a lot more information – The physical library, no matter how romantic or nostalgic, is becoming an anachronism. And yet, we need librarians and, as they tend to be called now, media specialists or informationists, more than ever. The volume of data available to students is utterly overwhelming and they need guides with specialized skillsets to help turn those data into usable information.

So where does the virtual classroom fit into all of this? First of all, this won’t be the year of the virtual classroom because it takes time for teachers and students to adapt to the use of new tools both in and out of the classroom. We’re still at the early adopter stage in many ways. However, just as open resources are seeing strong adoption, so are many of the teaching models (online, both synchronous and asynchronous) that educators are using on sites like WizIQ, Udemy, and TeachStreet to not only teach independently, but also to make money doing it. Again, the idea of for-profit educational ventures, whether small-scale like we see with individual teachers on WizIQ or large-scale as we see with the University of Phoenix, still has some hurdles to overcome, especially in a country with a strong history of free public education.

That being said, the entire e-learning sector is growing fast and most of us know that there is considerable room for disruptive models in education that leverage the power of the web to improve outcomes for our students. Regardless of how accurate I managed to be in my predictions, I think it’s pretty clear that 2012 is going to be a wild ride for education – Ed Tech is just moving too fast and the urgency of making education truly relevant and effective for our students is too great for this to be a leisurely walk.


Chris is a full-time online teacher since then, focusing on teaching Business English to Adults. Rather than pushing the boundaries of technology, Chris seeks to simplify the online learning process by focusing on authentic human connections as a way to make online learning accessible for learners of all ages.

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