Predictions for 2009:
The CMS Market:
1. Blackboard will be purchased by Microsoft or some other big fish (like HP, Google, or Oracle).
The beachhead that a CMS provides into the world of education and training, as well as the opportunities for vertical services associated with a CMS, adds up to Blackboard being significantly under-valued at present. The CMS market, while maturing in the U.S., remains in early days in the much larger emerging markets (particularly the BRIC's - Brazil, Russia, India, China) - which Blackboard does not have the resources or scope to grow.
2. The SaaS (software as a service) model for CMS's (Blackboard and open-source platforms like Moodle) will grow significantly.
A combination of budget drivers and the realization that multi-tennant hosted software is superior to locally hosted software will drive adoption. Renting server based Web apps makes more sense as IHE's (Institutions of Higher Education) begin to focus on core competencies. The cost savings for renting software as a service will start to become more apparent when local headcount costs are factored in.
3. Moodle will experience major growths in adoption.
Increased licensing fees for Blackboard, the availability of Moodle SaaS models, and a cultural move towards community source will spur Moodle adoptions. Second-movers will learn from early adopters.
Curriculum and Technology:
4. Digital texts, in both digital reader and audio form, will begin to achieve critical mass - becoming a compelling alternative to traditional paper based books (curriculum).
Publishers will offer paired digital reader downloads and audio copies of texts for one price. Digital curriculum will be increasingly consumed on smart phones - as text or audio. Higher margins on digital books and curriculum will drive down costs and increase convenience and use.
5. 2009 will be the year of mobilized content and the portable CMS.
Blackboard and Moodle apps for the iPhone and Android will be introduced. Colleges will start to see large shifts in CMS usage by students away from the browser and towards the mobile device.
Educational Vendors, Services and Hardware
6. 2009 will see dramatic increases in the adoption of consumer, cloud based e-mail, calendaring, media hosting and productivity software among IHE's.
Cost pressures combined with student demand for these services will begin to overshadow concerns about technology and inertial to dramatically increase the adoption of cloud tools such as Google e-mail and Apps. Campus license agreements for the Microsoft Office suite will begin to erode as schools go for free or low-cost cloud services. Exponential growth in the amount of media produced on campus (as tools such as the Flip camera and embedded video recording in smart phones become ubiquitous, will lead to dramatic increases in the utilization of YouTube as the media platform among IHEs.
7. Adobe will purchase Techsmith.
Adobe needs to get in the lecture capture market. Techsmith's products (Jing, Relay, Camtasia - and screencast.com) fill a huge hole in the Adobe line-up. The technologies are complementary.
8. Microsoft will introduce a Windows branded Netbook.
Microsoft needs to get a foothold in the services and advertising market. A Microsoft Netbook that is fully optimized for Windows, comes with default IE based tools and automatic subscriptions to Windows Live and other Microsoft ad supported services will make Microsoft relevant once again. The Windows version will be a special Netbook optimized (Windows light) version.
On this note, Apple should also introduce a Netbook tied to a Mobile Me subscription (the money increasingly will not be in hardware - which is commoditized - but the services and content that can be sold to a lifetime customer). Apple should do this - I'm not convinced that they will out of fear of cannibalizing hardware sales where they do make money - but this is coming sometime if not in 2009. Google should also come out with a Google Netbook - built around Linux and Chrome - but that may also not happen by the end of 2009 (but it should).
Predictions for 2020
My main prediction for 2020 is that some large event or technology will swamp all other existing educational technology trends. Since we can not predict what this "Black Swan" will be we cannot gauge what will be the most important educational technology story in 2020.
- By 2020 energy scarcity could be history. A paradigm shifting invention (say in fusion or biofuels) would re-order the economies - and hence educational technologies - of our world.
- By 2020 life expectancies may increase dramatically due to a major advance in bio-genetics (say cancer is dramatically reduced). The much extended life-spans will drive changes in how we think about work, careers and hence education - again swamping any incremental shifts in educational technology.
- By 2020 a major nuclear or biological terrorist attack could have occurred, radically altering economies, markets, lifestyles and thus how education is produced and consumed.
These 3 events above may seem naively futuristic....but think about the some of the Black Swans of the past.
Think about life just before and after the invention of the light-bulb and the power grid. Or pre-and post telegraph, pre and post radio or television, pre and post automobile or airplane, pre and post home computer and pre and post Internet.
The world before the invention of antibiotics and after antibiotics. All technologies that developed and diffused in fairly rapid time spans, none of which were predicted.
Think about the music industry pre and post the Internet, file-sharing, iPods and the Apple Music store. Could they have predicted these changes? Or pre and post the attack on Pearl Harbor, or 9/11 - Black Swan events that changed everything for generations.