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Adrian Sannier is one of those edtech leaders who is difficult to pigeonhole. An academic working for a big publishing company. A truth-teller operating within a buttoned-down publisher. An idealist operating within the real world of business, profit and loss.  Adrian's title at Pearson is Digital Strategist and Senior Vice President of Product - he is the guy behind OpenClass.

What follows is an edited (for length) version of some of Adrian's predictions for edtech in 2013, courtesy of the folks at Zer0 to 5ive, (with whom I worked with to secure and edit the interview).   (Note that Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein also answered these same questions for us this past week).

How would you answer the questions below?  

Question 1. What will be the big surprises of 2013 in Higher Ed tech?

I think some well-established higher-ed institutions -- institutions we think of as solid, but slow-moving -- will surprise us in 2013 with a burst of new found adaptability. We will see some innovative public/private partnerships emerge to accelerate the advantage technology can bring in increasing retention and student success -- especially around new approaches to general education.

Question 2. What do you foresee in the online learning space?

Online learning got a lot more legitimacy in 2012, and I think we can expect to see that trend continue. More and more on-ground classes will flip; more on-ground students will incorporate online courses as part of their on-campus education.

The rise of the massive course will continue, but I think the focus will shift to the core subjects. There will be heightened competition among the various providers in 2013, with an unprecedented focus on efficacy and student outcomes.

The use of Open Educational Resources will continue to grow, but I don’t think we will see OER move the efficacy needle in any substantial way. Free content puts downward pressure on price, but there's no reason to expect that replacing published content with the free variety will do anything to improve student outcomes.

Question 3. Is social learning really driving higher achievement, or is it the equivalent of the modern day study group?

The single best predictor of whether a student will succeed in higher ed is her participation in a collaborative study group. When social tools are used to create effective learning communities, they can't help but drive student achievement. In 2013 we'll see examples of courses that do this well, and these courses will provide a model for future development.

Question 4. Will proprietary learning management systems be replaced by other options?  If so, what will these options be/if not, why not?

Last year, driven primarily by the MOOC's, the EdTech conversation finally began turning away from tools to focus instead on the educational experiences those tools can build.

I think that trend will continue in 2013, as we see more and more complete course experiences being offered to students at the next level of scale. Increasing levels of  investment will be drawn to the creation of online learning experiences that can be delivered pan-institutionally, and these new offerings will be head and shoulders above what individual professors can create working on their own.

So far the creators of these high-scale experiences have eschewed the established LMS's, preferring to bring their courses to the market on their own platforms. I think we'll see more of that in 2013, further loosening the grip of the traditional campus LMS on the development and distribution of technology enhanced learning.

Question 5. How will “Big Data” impact Higher Ed in 2013 and beyond?

In 2013, Big Data will continue to dominate the conversation, but at most institutions it will remain more promise than panacea. The exception will be courses offered at large scale, where algorithms can leverage the large amounts of data gathered in consistently offered experiences to demonstrate success at driving continuous improvement and significant personalization.

We'll also see more and more schools actively using student risk models that leverage BigData to guide intervention strategies aimed at improving retention.

Question 6. Will MOOCs replace accredited curriculum?  Why or why not?

If, in 2012, MOOC's hit the heights of inflated expectations, 2013 may well represent the trough of despair, at least in terms of the MOOC's perceived potential to completely disrupt conventional institutions. The established education system is far more resilient than many believe, and I doubt that the MOOC model will be as disruptive as some have predicted. That said, MOOCs are forcing institutions to re-evaluate their approach to incorporating technology into the classroom and in 2013 some institutions will move to gain the technology advantages that massive scale can bring, either by partnering with MOOC providers, or by developing new consortia to produce and maintain courses of their own at scale.

What other questions for Adrian would you have about edtech in 2013?

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