Need-to-Know-News: Technology Trends & Education, Coursera goes Hybrid

In this ‘Need-to-Know’ blog post series my aim is to share noteworthy stories that speak of need-to-know developments within higher education and K-12 that have the potential to influence, challenge and/or transform the traditional model of education.

what-is-innovation-300x199There were significant developments this week in the education arena, but two reports published by non-education institutions are worthy of review. One describes behaviour patterns and statistics of Internet users globally, and the other shares innovative technologies we should pay attention toseveral that will affect how we go about educating learners. Some are imminent, some longer term, but either way there will be more changes ahead for education. Another significant development this week is Coursera’s announcement that shocked many, though perhaps we are becoming numb to the MOOC news? Either way I’ll review briefly the key developments.

1) Internet Usage Trends
This week Mary Meeker, a partner in a venture capitalist firm presented her much anticipated Internet Trends Report. Meeker is a highly regarded expert on consumer Internet behaviours and patterns. Her presentations provide rich data that is examined by marketers, economists and business leaders. What about educators? I suggest there is valuable information for leaders of education institutions to consider; patterns that may have implications for enrollment patterns and student needs on campus and off:

UP wristband by Jawbone equipped with sensors ‘to know yourself better’ @

i) The use of Internet connected devices is shifting towards tablets and other mobile devices away from PCs. This suggests that students will likely be toting tablets to class, and even donning wearable mobile-connected devices. The computer lab could be a thing of the past. It may shift to a BYOD lab, bring-your-own-device lab. Educators may consider making course content accessible and customized to mobile devices. According to Meeker, tablets are set to beat PC shipments at the end of this year, and in countries like China and South Korea, mobile Internet traffic is already lapping desktops. Wearable devices will be next segment in mobile devices, Google Glass, UP wristbands etc.

ii) Speaking of content, sources for content of all types are becoming even more accessible and available, as Meeker reports sharing of content is a growing significantly. The world’s content is increasingly findable, shared and tagged. The digital info that’s created and shared — from documents, to images to tweets — grew nine times in five years.

iii) International student participation rates in online classes will likely increase as the number of Internet users continues to expand globally. Internet usage expansions is driven by emerging markets, i.e. Indonesia [growth of 58% over previous year], Philippines, Argentina (slide 4). Internet Trends Report 2013, Mary Meeker, Slideshare

McKinsey & Company Disruptive Technologies: This report describes twelve technologies that have “the potential to have enhance lives of people around the globe through a cleaner environment and better health”. Some are similar to Ms. Meeker’s, though not all. I like how this report is presented in the slide show—’gallery of disruptive technologies’ which gives a concise overview. How will these impact education? After reading about ‘advanced robotics‘, I realize this parallels ongoing discussions in education circles about automated grading, Also mobile devices and access is a growing segment. Students will likely want to continue to be able to learn anytime and anywhere.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.49.14 PM
Mobile Internet is the #1 Trend Reported by Mckinsey & Company

Some technologies detailed in the report have been gestating for years and thus will be familiar. Others are more surprising. Examples of the 12 disruptive technologies include:  Mobile Internet, Advanced robotics—that is, increasingly capable robots or robotic tools, with enhanced “senses,” dexterity, and intelligence [and]  Internet of Things.

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.27.37 AMMcKinsey Global Institute Interview with former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya is a must watch, [or read of the transcript]. If one considers  Palihapitiya’s predictions on upcoming trends, we can see that the need for a computer scientists and engineers, and the need to know another languagecode.

“And so the way to think about that is, for example, when you think about education. Education today teaches you social science, it teaches you philosophy, it teaches you English, it teaches you math. But we don’t view technological understanding, or the knowledge of a framework, as the equivalent of understanding any other language”.  Managing disruptive technology: A conversation with investor Chamath Palihapitiya, McKinsey Global Institute

2) Coursera News
Up until now Coursera has not been able to offer students courses for credit; a certificate yes, but college credit no. Udacity and edX however have been making strides in having courses offered for credit in partnership with other higher education institutions, or at least using their content in regular classes to do so. Now Coursera has jumped on board to join in, but when one looks under the hood, the ten public schools that partnered with Coursera may not be using courses strictly for credit. Some schools suggest Coursera content will  used in the classroom, which falls more in line with blended learning, or hybrid learning, which is really not so new after all.

“This is going to transform the way that we teach on college campuses; it is not going to substitute for it,” says , Coursera’s co-founder and a computer science professor at Stanford University”. Online Colleges Get a Big Boost, But Doubts Persist, Carlos Sanchez, May 30, 2013, NPR, All Tech Considered

Stay tuned for updates through Twitter @OnlinelearningI. Have a great weekend.

2 thoughts on “Need-to-Know-News: Technology Trends & Education, Coursera goes Hybrid

  1. Of note on the hybrid front, this week the Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee signed a trial program to shift their current online offerings to coursera. Two classes are slated through coursera in the first trial run.


    1. That is interesting Robert – blended learning is a tremendous option, though some schools have been able to move to this format without paying for assistance from an outside provider. But, it is a move in the right direction as far as moving to a model that enhances learning and has the potential to improve access. Thanks for commenting Robert! Debbie


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