Assignment 3 – Speculative Futures Essay


The education in the 21st century is moving in a direction where almost all learning activities are dominated by computational technologies. While people are discussing the ramifications of the digitalized trend in the next decade, I will say that the prospect of education can be considered from a positive perspective with the introduction of big data analytics in both academic and management aspects. This essay will explore the future of education in 2030 in terms of the use of dataveillance of student and its impacts on the improvement of academic activities and learning management.

This essay is consisted of three parts. It first gives a brief background of the current situation of education in 2020s, highlighting the increasingly growing role of e-learning and the importance of digital technology in traditional campus-based learning environment. The background then leads to the key part of the article, which illustrates the employment of big data concept in improving educational practice, divided in two aspects – academic content and learning management. The academic improvement explores the benefits of dataveillance on learning efficacy, and on early identification of students’ problems and designing solutions. At the learning management level, the use of students’ data can be used by technology providers to optimize the design of learning tools and platforms.

Background of The Status Que of Education in 2020s

To predict the scenario of education in 2030, I need to first provide a brief introduction of the status que of education in 2020s – it is the premise of my projection of the prospect of what education will be in the next decade. One of the prominent characteristics featuring the education in 2020s is the combination of brick and mortar schooling and online learning trend. Thanks to the growth of smart devices penetration rate and the Internet, as well as the demand for closing the education gap both in developed and developing countries, e-learning over the past decades has been greater than ever in 2020s. As a result, digital learning is playing the predominant role of the 21st century in both education and adult training fields due to its advantages of low cost, high convenience, and accessibility (Pappas, 2019). This trend can be seen in the Online Education Statistics made by Bastrikin (2020), among a total of 19.7 million students enrolled in degree-granting courses, 6.6 million have chosen distance education/online options, with the majority of distance education students are undergraduates (5.5 million). As for learning behaviors of students, 87% of students reported using smart devices to access online study programs, and 67% complete course work via the Internet. From the perspective of faculty experience, in 2019, 46% of faculty members reported to have taught online courses for credit, in compared to 39% in 2016. The same trend be seen in adult training, with 77% of US companies using online learning In 2017 Elearning,Market Analysis, Trends And Forecasts (2020).

Adding to the point is the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which highlights the importance of distance learning across all sectors of education, from pre-K 12 to tertiary education. The pandemic has necessitated 93% of institutions to constitute policies on remote work for staff, while 43% of schools launch online learning courses.

Given the context, it is safe to predict that the next decade will witness the further employment of digital technology in teaching and management of education. This remainder of the essay aims to illustrate the relationship between new technology and digital learning in terms of several indicators, namely, dataveillance, the use of big data, and relationships between learning and other businesses.

Dataveillance in Studying Students’ Learning Behaviors 

Among these factors mentioned above, the first character featuring 2030 will be the dataveillance using big data to track students’ activities, whether it be academic performance or biometric measurements. In order to establish the relationship between big data and education in 2030, I will first clarify the definition of dataveillance and big data. According to Wikipedia, the term is a portmanteau of data and surveillance, which means the practice of monitoring and collecting online data as well as metadata (“Dataveillance,” 2020), whereas “Big data is a field that treats ways to analyze, systematically extract information from, or otherwise deal with data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software” (“Big Data,” 2020). When it comes to education, it means the data produced by students during the learning process, including the data generated as they are taking courses (Dahdouh et al., 2018). For centuries, to discipline students has been one of the prominent tasks of educators. After the introduction of computational techniques, the onus is shifted from the hands of teachers to the intelligent behavior management system in schools (Selwyn et al., 2020), which is defined as ‘code/space’ – a setting where brick-and-mortar spaces are intertwined with software code (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011). This mechanism tracks students’ academic statistics and biometric measurements, translating the student behavior information into digital data in favor of further improvement of educational activity in school and supportive intervention schemes.

At the academic level, firstly, the dataveillance mechanism help detect and solve education problems during the process of learning. Given the data analytics of all facets of students’ progress, whether these be their attendance frequency in specific course, exam marks, the comparison of the time spend on different courses online, teachers can find the areas that need to be fine-tuned, whether these be the setup of curriculum content and period or pedagogical methods. For instance, if statistics indicate that students spend an excessive amount of time to finish a particular course or homework, this probably means that the module needs to be improved in order to make it more suitable for the learners (Dahdouh et al., 2018).

Furthermore, dataveillance can predict learners’ future performances and therefore extent academic support before problems occurs. Thanks to big data analytics of student academic performance, educators can anticipate what difficulties are most frequently encountered by students, and then establish early intervention plan rather than react after difficulties occur. For example, this support can extent as early as to recruitment stage by identifying students who are most likely to struggle academically in their first semesters. Taking this point one step further, of the recruitment per se also benefit from dataveillance, when students behavioral information analytics help recruiters to better understand and predict the preferences of applicants, providing answers to questions as to what prospective applicants concerns more during their application process, what is the main reason they apply to certain schools (Dennis, 2019). As well as fostering academic performance, the analysis of data also contribute to the development of adaptive and customized learning systems (Dahdouh et al., 2018). It will indicate preferences of students and teachers behaviors in their educational activities, such as the most used browsers, the software or apps they use to access resources, etc. Such information will then be feedbacked to companies which design educational software and Learning Management Systems (LMSs), so these educational technology providers can design new or improve existing educational products in a more personalized and customized way that caters to discrete needs of individual users.

Adding to the point is the dataveillance contribute to the student recruitment of schools. According to the report Hudzik (2020), the COVID-19 disruption has resulted in overall shrinkage in the international student enrollments. In the US. For example, in America, available data indicate a 10% revenue shrinkage in 2020 and about 25% by 2021, which means $550–650 billion loss in the following years (Huang et al., 2020; McNichol & Leachman, 2020). This begs a question – what behavioral information can be applied to better recruit and enroll international students? – Again, it is the big data analytics that help recruitment teams understand the preference of prospective applicants during their application. Given the information, recruiters can better understand the key motivator for prospective applicants to apply to a school, or the main reason for their decisions, are used the data as indicators for schools’ branding strategies that evoke resonance with prospective international applicants (Dennis, 2019).


This article illustrates the future of education in 2030 with the employment of dataveillance and big data. The discussion of the importance data analytics is focused mainly on both academic and recruitment aspects. From the academic level, the collect and analytics of students learning behaviors and biometric information will play an increasingly important role in LMSs, for example by detecting students’ struggle with courses and offering early intervention, and by customizing curriculum design and pedagogy in a more personalized way. Furthermore, data analytics will be shared with educational platforms or product providers, as the basis to fine tune their design of content and service. While the prospect of digital education in 2030 remains lots of uncertainties to debate, I hope this essay can provide some insights into the potential importance of dataveillance and big data in this field.





Bastrikin, A. (2020). Online Education Statistics. Education Data.

Big Data. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Dahdouh, K., Dakkak, A., Oughdir, L., & Messaoudi, F. (2018). Big data for online learning systems. Education and Information Technologies : The Official Journal of the IFIP Technical Committee on Education TA  – TT  –, 23(6), 2783–2800. LK  –

Dataveillance. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Dennis, M. J. (2019). How to recruit international students in the future. Enrollment Management Report, 23(6), 8–9.

Elearning,Market Analysis, Trends And Forecasts. (2019). Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

Huang, C.-C., Stone, C., Windham, K., & Beltrán, J. (2020). Putting the Size of the Needed COVID-19 Fiscal Response in Perspective.

Hudzik, J. K. (2020). Post-COVID Higher Education Internationalization.

Kitchin, R., & Dodge, M. (2011). Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life. MIT Press.

McNichol, E., & Leachman, L. (2020). States Continue to Face Large Shortfalls Due to COVID-19 Effects.

Pappas, C. (2019). Top 20 eLearning Statistics For 2019 You Need To Know. Elearning Industry.

Selwyn, N., Pangrazio, L., Nemorin, S., & Perrotta, C. (2020). What might the school of 2030 be like? An exercise in social science fiction. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(1).

Activity 6 | Individual activity: Exploring possible futures (Blog)

The education in the 21st century is moving in a direction where almost all learning activities are dominated by computational technologies. While people are discussing the ramifications of the digitalized trend in the next decade, I will say that its ramifications can be considered both positive and negative: it represents something of a philosophical divide about how we view this issue, which is subject to variables such as the complex interplay between education and other businesses, technology development such as the media impacts on learning, the discrete needs of stakeholders(e.g. learners, services and platforms providers, educators, traditional institutions). Given the complexity and uncertainty, I will explore the future of education in 2030 from several aspects based on the recommended reading about the future of education:

I will first compare the pros and cons from the stakeholders’ perspective; for example, the challenges of online learning to traditional institutions, the pros and cons of digitalization of education for both teachers and students, in terms of their academic behaviors, management of student behaviors, and equal educational opportunities for more students. Meanwhile, from the technological perspective, I will explore the media influence on changing learning efficacy, and the benefits of dataveillance in early identification of students’ problems and designing solutions, and the use of students’ data for other researches. Finally, I will predict the future from the business level, discussing the interplay between educational institutions and other businesses in digital context and the impact on education.

Assignment 3 – People in the field (Individual)

While Weller mentioned both pros and cons of applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to education domain in the chapter 23, I tend to discuss the potential of AI in modern education from an alternative perspective, basing on the ideas of by Marguerite J. Dennis. She has been an expert of higher education administration for over 40 years and has written 6 books exploring the implication of AI in changing higher education in terms of admission, student progression and support. I will re

The reasons why I refer to her is her interpreting technology from a more pragmatic consideration (partly due to her experience in administration) pertaining to some overlooked problems of students. One point is how AI can improve educational support. Marguerite pointed out, from administrative perspective, that AI can be used in the student admission stage to predict academic impediment they might encounter during their first semesters, based on the algorithm and analytics of big data (e.g. personalised and frequent text messaging and communication) (Singh & Ritzhaupt, 2006). It may provide insights for educators to prepare educational intervention schemes in early stage (Dennis, 2018a). By the same token, the same approach also helps educators to follow students’ learning progress in real time rather than waiting for analysis at the end of each semester. Therefore, educators can craft supportive plans and take actions immediately to mitigate students problems (Dennis, 2018b).

Beside the academic aspect, the data analytics can also predict potential mental problems of students – it is another determining factor that is overlooked by many academics. This mental impediment is particularly important for international students, who are more likely to encounter conundrums such as homesickness and social isolation than their local counterparts. This is the very point that cannot be perceived by local researchers without empirical knowledge with education. Oftentimes, the academic difficulty for international student do not simply stem from professional reasons, but are attributed to mental factors. If such problems can be identified by data analytics with AI in admission stage, the intervention plan may be designed from a more holistic and effective perspective.

Despite the apprehension about the potential percussions of student intervention plan (as discussed in chapter 25 of Weller’s book), I would say that Marguerite’s ideas also deserve equal attention in favor of the judicious application of technologies AI to predict potential impediments of students from a early stage.


Dennis, M. J. (2018a). Artificial intelligence and recruitment, admission, progression, and retention. Enrollment Management Report TA  – TT  –, 22(9), 1–3. LK  –

Dennis, M. J. (2018b). How will artificial intelligence change admissions? University World News.

Singh, O., & Ritzhaupt, A. (2006). Student perspective of organizational uses of eportfolios in higher education. World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, 2006(1).

Activity 3 – Apply reading to my context (25 Years of Ed Tech)

Of the second 1/3 part of Weller’s book, 2 points stand out in terms of their relationships with my current study and work. Firstly, the application of video has an underlying relevance to the promotion of distance education. From my personal experience in language training for international students, recording courses ahead of schedule has been proven to be a practical solution to deal with the time and geographical impediments. This is particularly practical when students enrolled in an online course inhabit different times zones, making it difficult for synchronous communication and meeting. The advantage of class videos becomes more manifest during the current COVID 19, when these premade materials allows international students to study at their own pace. When it comes to the weakness in synchronous communication, students can leave comment under the video page, and teachers will answer within 24 hours. Meanwhile, our school do offer options for online face-to-face communication via tools such as Microsoft teams, where teachers can have video conference with students. It is exactly the same case as the discussion of the “flipped learning concept.”

On the contrary, the practice of e-portfolios among students contradicts the expectation of the designers. As mentioned in Weller’s essay, e-portfolios are not appreciated by students due to various reasons, from complexity in operation to cost concerns (Singh & Ritzhaupt, 2006), the same is true from my personal experience with students. Few of them bother to record their development in the blogs spontaneously unless required, with many reckon the task as an extra time-consuming work. Also, apart from the reasons listed in the chapter (e.g. overcomplication, lack of ownership, etc.), the linguistic barriers for international students is another salient issue. For example, a lot of students in my school are from foreign students learning Chinese, most of whom are frustrated by the grammar and terminology in Chinese to express their feeling concisely. As a consequence, the academic blogs of students are usually deserted, rather than a digital domain of lifelong learning and development for individuals, as discussed in the chapter.


Singh, O., & Ritzhaupt, A. (2006). Student perspective of organizational uses of eportfolios in higher education. World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, 2006(1).

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. In 25 Years of Ed Tech.

Activity 2 | Reflect on reading-25 Years of Ed Tech

My reactions to Weller’s essay is a strong sense of enlightenment. In the initial eight chapters of the article, the author outlined a clear timeline that illustrated the evolvement of e-learning, Though concise and brief, the author provided key pointers that are concise but rich enough for me to have an holistic picture of how the Internet was gradually applied in education, with each stage over the 6 years mentioned in the essay, commencing from the advent of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) in 1994 to the proposal of the e-learning concept in 1999 to the final establishment of standards applied for digital education at the dawn of 21st century. Adding to the overview is the analysis of the interplay between different stages, based on the comparison of pros and cons of the advances over the period. All these lead to a in-depth review of the development of e-learning.

Among the bullet points discussed in these chapters, what preoccupies me most is the Wikis chapter. As well as being a pure supporting information resource, the construction concept and approach of Wikipedia were the very contributor to the maturity of e-learning, that is, the so-called ‘“democratized publishing”. It is by the discussion on this concept that the author provides me an alternative way to review the relevance of wikis to distance learning. Another reason why this point ‘speaks’ to me more than other chapters my personal experience with the current study in MALAT – When doing an group assignment, we are actually apply the method and concept derived from wikis back in 1998.

If I were to write a similar essay on the history of educational technology, I would also start from the year 1994. The reason is exactly same as mentioned in the introduction of the Weller’s essay – despite the emerge of the Internet in late 1980s, it is not until 1994 that this technology started to play its part in education. My own experience of this situation can be seen when I searched for reference information for my middle school assignment in early 1990s, there was hardly any digital resources apart from library. By contrast, starting from mid 1990s, BBS started to find its way in university, where students use it as a nascent tool for communication in intranet, both synchronous and asynchronously.