Dont Be Surprised If These Five Things Happen In Education In 2020 – Forbes

Posted: January 2, 2020 at 7:42 am


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FILE - In this May 20, 2013 file photo, graduates pose for photographs during commencement at Yale ... [+] University in New Haven, Conn. There's still plenty of pomp and circumstance, inspiring words from lofty speakers and tossing tassels, but today's college graduation ceremonies include many a contemporary twist. In 1984, according to some estimates, only half of graduates had debt from college loans, averaging about $2,000. Now, two-thirds of recent bachelor's degree recipients have outstanding student loans, with an average debt of about $27,000, according to a Pew Research Center report. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

As 2020 dawns, here a few items from education, higher education and education technology that are moving, and moving enough to develop into trends for next year and beyond. It is less a prediction list than a dont be too surprised if list.

Less Transparency in LMS

Investors and shareholders are negotiating a proposed sale of Canvas, the market leader in learning management systems (LMS) the integrated online platforms that manage classroom and college activities for teachers, students and administrators. A private equity interest wants to take over the public company, making it private.

If that sale happens, the top three LMS companies, controlling 80% of the multi-billion dollar market, will be private. Blackboard, the second-leading provider with about 31% share, went from public to private when it was bought by an equity fund in 2011.

Since these investment houses arent dumb the proposed Canvas sale is reportedly worth $2 billion we can assume theres profit to be made in the LMS game. And since private investors disclose less than public ones, schools, especially public and non-profit schools, will have to decide how comfortable they are feeding an increasingly murky, speculative market. So, dont be surprised if college boards and presidents start asking more questions about these private investors and start shifting to more open source options or move to cut out the middleman entirely and launch their own, proprietary LMS systems.

Campus Tech Will Get Even More Creepy

This year, we started to see stories about what campus education technology can do track were on campus students are or are not, for example. And thats just the start.

Systems exist already that can track where a student is on campus and alert them, and school leaders, if theyre spending too much time in the cafeteria, for example. Connected campus tech can and will try to remind students to review specific materials while theyre already in the library or give them turn by turn directions to the four of their classmates congregating in a study room.

Existing systems can also scan the faces of students while theyre in class, assess their eye movements and alert the teacher when a student is losing interest, producing engagement scores for both students and teachers.

If they dont already, schools will soon know how much a student studied, where, with whom and how much they paid attention in class. Information like that can help schools prevent falling behind, dropouts and more serious consequences. So, dont be surprised if tech companies convince some schools to quietly pilot these technologies, raising fierce objections from just about everyone or so we should hope.

The Beginning of the End of For-Profits

Its been a bad year for for-profit colleges. More high-profile closures, more fines and settlements for fraud, continued bad outcomes and accelerating, deep declines in enrollments. In that climate, several for-profits sought exits. But those exits havent been clear.

For-profit Kaplan University sold itself to public Purdue University for one dollar and a healthy management deal. But the early returns show the venture losing money, likely poisoning the well for similar public or non-profit buyouts, even for a dollar.

Other for-profits have tried to convince the IRS they are actually non-profit schools by selling the school to a non-profit company they own, then hiring themselves to manage the school. But recently, the Department of Education ruled that was not going to work and ordered one school to stop calling itself a non-profit. So that cynical exit is cluttered too.

With dwindling exit options, continued bad press and a drag on online education, 2020 looks dark and dank for the for-profits. With a presidential election that could replace Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the patron saint of for-profit colleges, 2021 and beyond could be even worse. So, dont be surprised if the remaining for-profit colleges simply wind down or radically shift their business models to lightly regulated overseas education or workforce training and get out of the accredited degree market altogether.

Online Education Limits

Colleges have been living on online education milking it for profit margins to pay their bills and using it eek out enrollment growth in an otherwise flat or falling pool of perspective students. And while online learning is still growing, its slowing down. Online enrollment growth is below 2% annually now.

Added to slowing growth is that online students are increasingly taking online programs from schools closer and closer to home. In 2019, 67% of online college students enroll at schools within 50 miles of their residence, that number was 44% in 2012. That localization means a school with online programs based in New Mexico, as an example, is increasingly less likely to attract students from elsewhere, but more likely to get their local share.

Third, and related, the number of adult learners going to school continues to slide. Enrollments by students older than 24 were down nearly 3% in 2019 and its been in decline since 2011. Since older students tend to favor online learning settings that fit their life and career demands, fewer of them means fewer potential online students.

So, dont be surprised if online programs start to lose their luster as growth engines for schools. They probably wont fade just yet but the slow down, declining pool and increased local competition may reduce their investment appeal, slowing them down even further.

Coding/Tech Skill Models Go to College

It was not too long ago that coding and software bootcamps the short, highly intensive learn-to-code technology programs were the rage of education, the new model for fast, career-ready education. They sprang up like weeds. Many have closed, pivoted or are still searching for funding formulae that work.

That does not mean the education is bad, the model of a stand-alone, for-profit coding camp was. This year, new models emerged. For example, MakeSchool, which started as a college replacement because computer science degrees didnt teach many skills relevant to their careers, has now partnered with an accredited college to offer a Bachelors Degree in computer science.

Thats not a failure, thats smart because colleges have valuable things coding camps never did alternative revenue streams, existing students, community credibility, brand awareness and rent-free teaching space. And coding camps had an up-to-date sexiness that colleges were thought to lack. So, dont be surprised if bootcamps continue to diminish as colleges completely co-opt their programs through partnerships or white label providers like GreenFig.

Those trends feel like safe bets for 2020 but, obviously, no one knows. Less safe bets but still plausible developments for 2020 include the major college cheating scandal-in-waiting and more states moving to make college free. Implausible ones, like the public realizing that student debt is not a crisis, seem too far-fetched to even imagine. But by any neutral definition, 2019 we a very eventful year in education, 2020 looks to be no different.

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Dont Be Surprised If These Five Things Happen In Education In 2020 - Forbes

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January 2nd, 2020 at 7:42 am

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