It’s the new year and with it, hopes for new developments in education. Here are a few scattered predictions from around the world of education about what we might see.

1. Competency-based learning gains steam

Fueled by interest from hundreds of higher education institutions and the Department of Education, competency-based learning will gain steam. Coupled with online learning, as my colleague Michelle Weise has written, it will constitute a disruptive force in higher education unlike any we’ve seen.

2. The rise of the LRM

The LRM—learning relationship management software—akin to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for sales—will rise as a new category to make online and blended learning, competency-based learning, and the unbundling of the university far more fruitful and productive for learners, educational institutions, and employers. The trend will grow fast in higher education this year, followed by corporate learning and then K–12 education in future years. The early leader is Fidelis Education (where, full disclosure, I’m on the board), and Motivis Learning, a spin-off from College for America, Southern New Hampshire’s online, competency-based institution, won’t be far behind.

3. The impact of Knewton

Knewton, an adaptive learning company, has long been discussed as one of the exciting entities in education circles, but few could put their hands around what exactly they were doing and what their impact has been—or will be. The promise—adaptive learning across virtually any content area to a very fine grain—has been intriguing but uncertain. In 2015, certainty about Knewton will increase, and what it does, its potential impact, and its visibility will, too. The big step forward in this was the release of a technical white paper recently by Knewton that shed some transparency on exactly what it does—and why it’s so different from any other adaptive learning program or engine out there.

4. A slowdown in 1-to-1 district computing initiatives

I admit this might be more of a hope of mine, but although I’m an advocate for the power of technology to personalize learning and create a student-centered education system—and many times this will ultimately mean an Internet-connected device for every child—far too many districts are leading with technology for technology’s sake and not considering what problem they are trying to solve with technology or what goal they are trying to achieve. Our new book, Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, lays out a different path for schools to embark upon a design process where the technology comes toward the end in service of the learning goals, but high profile busts of 1-to-1 initiatives will hopefully slow enthusiasm around tech-first implementations toward more considered approaches in 2015.

5. Momentum in online corporate learning

Businesses continue to say they can’t find qualified people to hire for open jobs. To solve the problem, expect to see increased activity around corporate learning in 2015. Companies from Pluralsight to Udacity are leading the way here in partnership with a variety of corporate entities. Corporations will increasingly recognize the value of competency-based programs as well and actively encourage employees to use tuition reimbursement to enroll programs at places like Patten University, College for America, and Bellevue University—as well as work with competency-based programs to design education programs more actively.




  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.