Q&A with Dr. Rob Reynolds, author of ‘The Future of Learning Content’

Dr. Rob Reynolds, Director of Direct Digital, The Learning Lot blogger, and author of The Future of Learning Content recently took the time to lend us his insights into the education technology industry.

Dr. Reynolds discussed the biggest ed-tech trend, greatest obstacle in adopting technology in education, and the future of the industry. Check out the Q&A below.

ET: What is the biggest trend in education technology that we should be watching?

RR: Well, the biggest technology disruptor for the next 3-5 years will continue to be the tablet. It will change the way users retrieve and input information and, consequently, will transform our definition of literacy. Tablet devices are also a primary impetus for the transition to digital
learning content and will prompt both K-12 schools and higher education institutions to adopt digital textbook formats in the coming years.

ET: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in adopting technology in the education space?

RR: The single biggest obstacle for adopting technology in the education space is the same one that has challenged technology innovation in previous decades: a resistance to any change in the current instructional workflows in our systems. Instructors have traditionally opposed technology solutions that force them to go about their daily administrative tasks in new ways or to teach differently. This has led to the development of technology solutions that are decidedly not innovative. Rather, they merely mirror the status quo and, as a result, are awkward integrations of systems with completely disparate goals. Widespread adoption of new technologies may have to come from outside the education, namely from the consumer technology space. Eventually, even the most recalcitrant educators can’t stem the tide of tablet devices and associated technologies that will flood the U.S. in the next 3 years.

ET: Where do you see education technology going in the next 5 years?

RR: In addition to the broad use of personal mobile devices like tablets, much of the critical innovation over the next 5 years will come in the areas of data analysis and digital learning content. On the data front, it is rather inevitable that we will witness a plethora of analytics solutions that target the measurement of student engagement and student outcomes, and that offer predictive services with regards to at risk students. This analysis will be facilitated by the wide adoption of LMS platforms and other learning portals, as well as by the growing popularity of digital learning content, all of which help complement the assessment reporting already available to schools and instructors. On the digital learning content front, we will see a wave of new companies trying to solve the problem of textbook costs as well as the ease of use related to open and free content. We will also see new business models in digital learning content that are  fueled by greater disaggregation of traditional content. This means that publishers and startups alike will introduce both content subscription and content consumption (pay only for what you actually use) models in the next 5 years.

Big thanks to Dr. Reynolds for his contribution!