What do you anticipate for 2020?

As I write this the year 2019 is on its last legshours.  The year 2020 is on its way, and it’s still impossible to hear that date and not get a science fictional buzz off of it.

To honor this moment I decided not to do a roundup of the past year or decade.  Usually these are backward-looking (by definition) and are really just tentative stabs at nostalgia, as I grumped on Twitter.  They seem the opposite of my futures approach, which uses the recent past to help inform forecasts.

Now, for my Patreon supporters, I did post a three-part trends summary in aid of extrapolating forward.  (You can join them!) But here on this blog I’d like to do something different.  I’d like to open up the comments box for you to share your thoughts:

What do you anticipate for 2020?

I’m thinking of what you see for education in 2020, but you can also speak to your own life beyond education, or the world as a whole.  Let us know!

PS: happy new year to all of my readers!

new year 2020_Trending Topics 2019

(photo from Trending Topics 2019)

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10 Responses to What do you anticipate for 2020?

  1. Keil Dumsch says:

    I just don’t see many positive developments for education in 2020. I see more dwindling enrollments, more college closures and contractions, and the $1.6 trillion debt bubble getting bigger. There will be more hand-wringing by the media, politicians, and education establishment but no real action. Any “free college” proposal floated by the Democratic candidate in November’s election simply won’t fly.

    Sorry for the gloom and doom, but Happy New Year’s to Bryan and the readers!

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Keil, I appreciate your comments very much. I don’t see a lot of forces pushing against them.

      And I can get gloomier still:
      -international enrollment in US higher ed continues to decline
      -political unrest on campuses as the November election draws nigh (Dahn reminds us that TurningPoint may be energetic)
      -adjunctification continues

      • Keil Dumsch says:

        You’re exactly right. Plus we’re getting more and more mainstream media coverage like this piece by a Stanford professor that questions the entire idea of higher ed in its present form.


        The most telling part was him questioning the physical campuses, the four consecutive years to earn a degree, and the opportunity cost of being removed from paid employment. He then mentions emerging alternatives like coding academies, subscription education services, and micro-credentials.

        But he’s not really acknowledging that this will deal a devastating blow to existing colleges and everyone dependent for their livelihood on them.

  2. I recently wrote a whole post about the trends I see coming in education: http://sovorelpublishing.com/index.php/2020/01/01/top-7-higher-education-trends-for-2020 The top two things I see as becoming even more impactful in 2020 are Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR). AI has so many possibilities in everything from assisting with personalized learning to helping with automated grading. AI, if developed and used properly to help teachers in so many ways.
    VR also holds a lot of promise. The new Oculus Quest standalone headset completely sold out for Christmas and it is reasonably priced at under $400 (no additional computer or other hardware needed). If you haven’t used a real VR system like the Oculus you really need to in order better understand its capabilities and potential.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Brent, that’s a fine set of expectations.
      I can see a lot of work being done on each one.
      It seems like the others aim towards making #6 happen, too.

  3. Victor Villegas says:

    I see high schools working with industry to bypass higher ed at much higher rates than in the past, especially through CTE (Career & Technical Education) programs. I run a “Drones in Education” workshop for K-12 educators and last year, over 70% of the teachers that attended were new CTE teachers.

    There is a lot of money being poured into CTE programs right now, all with the purpose of having kids go straight to employment after HS graduation. Kids are now receiving hands on, industry standards based training, using the latest equipment and learning the most current tools/applications. Weighing the value of immediate, paid employment vs. 4-6 more years of schooling and a ridiculous amount debt, with no guarantee of a good paying job immediately after – most kids are taking the safer, more financially viable option. I know I would.

    I don’t think higher ed is even aware how much of an impact this is already having, and it is just getting started. I do see some community colleges getting involved but, 4 year universities have some waking up and catching up to do, and hopefully soon.

    As far as tech, underwater drones will start replacing the aerial drone hype, especially with increased FAA regulations. STEM/STEAM education with drones will need to switch gears and start to cover all remote controlled/autonomous vehicles – air, ground and water. Basically, robotics, both hardware and software. Everyone should be learning as much as they can about AI, machine learning, big data, blockchain, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship for future jobs skills.

    Ironically, the biggest skills needed going forward with all this tech are creativity, communications and people skills. I hear it from industry folk all the time – people with these skills AND tech will be in high demand.

    With many in higher ed cutting back on the humanities and not being able to keep up with the pace if tech, much less teach it, it makes one wonder how long we can stay afloat. And this from someone who works at a R1 university.

    Exciting, scary, confusing times we live in. Yet, amazing opportunities for those willing to take the plunge into self-directed learning.

    Here’s to a new year and new learning experiences! 🙂

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Kudos to your drone program, Victor!

      I think you’ve outlined one powerful way the higher ed bubble could keep deflating, especially for teaching-centered institutions. Your R1 might be safe, given its research mission.

      Do you think high schools and industry can teach the soft skills – communication, teamwork, tasks, etc?

      • Thank you, Bryan, although looks like the FAA is throwing a monkey wrench into drones, so looking to expand beyond just aerial drones and cover all remotely controlled and autonomous vehicles – air, land and sea.

        Yes, being a research university, we have more long term viability, however, we are also a land grant university. I work in Extension, under the Division of Outreach & Engagement, and we’ve had ENG funds cut because, supposedly, we don’t contribute directly to student success and enrollment. Obviously, our division does not agree. Nonetheless, we are now having to show and prove otherwise. Troubling, to say the least, especially at a land grant university, who is supposed to be a statewide public service, not just those who are able to afford to attend college.

        From the few high school CTE programs I have seen so far, yes, they are absolutely teaching the soft skills. They have industry advisory boards (I am on a couple of them) and industry is telling them the soft skills are just as important, if not more, than the hard skills. They are working hand in hand to make sure kids are prepared to enter the workforce. I’ve personally seen the results and am impressed. After two years in a CTE program, most of these kids outperform the average freshmen/sophomore undergrad. They are more focused, passionate and disciplined, which is why I’m working on engaging with them and their programs. I’m hoping to convince some of them to attend our university. Preliminary engagement is encouraging.

        I highly recommend you look into any CTE programs near you and see what they are doing. Universities need be paying attention to them, and not just as competitors. Partnering could be a win win for all.

        Happy to talk more about this if you are interested.

    • Keil Dumsch says:

      Victor, this is a profound insight. “I don’t think higher ed is even aware how much of an impact this is already having, and it is just getting started.”

      Colleges simply aren’t reading the writing on the wall and making contingency plans. Many colleges are in a serious world of hurt, especially the non-elite colleges who have mostly students that simply want to get into the job world as quickly as possible. For the past several decades we have turned high school completely over to “college preparation” (itself a nonsensical and idiotic concept that we got from 19th century British boarding schools) and removed nearly all job training. If we go back to job training in high schools, allowing students to bypass college, then the colleges are going to see devastating hits to their enrollments.

      • Victor Villegas says:

        It is not if. It is already happening. Employers are tired of waiting up to six years after high school to then find employees they need to “un-train” and then retrain. Better for them to train them in HS, with their equipment/processes and have them hit the ground running, at a lower cost.

        My suggestion for colleges is to partner up with these programs, sit on advisery committees, be a part of the discussion, contribute is some shape or form. Definitely don’t ignore them and think they have no direct effect on enrollment.

        I myself am a product of occupational training. I still ended up going back to college because the program had a connection with the local community college and the teacher encouraged it. Which is why I am now trying to convince my university we should be involved. We need to still be seen as one of the options, while not turning off those who decide to pursue other paths. Some of them, like myself, might come back later. But they sure won’t engage with us if we are not there to engage with them.

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