More students will have access to personalized learning opportunities, and competency-based learning will begin to take hold in 2012, experts predict.

We recently asked a handful of education and ed-tech experts for their thoughts on what the future holds for 2012—and beyond.

Nearly all agreed that technology’s potential to create personalized, student-centered learning environments will be even more fully realized in the coming year, thanks to powerful developments in blended instruction, data analytics, formative assessment, and more. But one expert warned that achievement gaps between privileged and disadvantaged children will only increase if income gaps and unemployment rates aren’t brought under control.

Here’s what the experts had to say. What do you think? Share your thoughts—and your own ed-tech predictions for 2012—in the comments section below.

“Competency-based learning will lead to greater efforts in bridging informal and formal learning … by demonstration of competencies. A global push for learning beyond textbooks using Open Educational Resources for innovative online learning will change the instructional materials market forever to allow personalization and deeper learning in ways never before possible.

“Governments will research and invest in sustainable policy and funding models for education innovation, such as performance-based funding of students to the course level—with incentives for successful completion.

“Blended learning will be seen less as an either-or [option] and more as a way for teachers and students to have targeted Response to Intervention for every student—for acceleration and advancement, as well as credit recovery and supplemental education—exactly when a student needs the intervention and support.

“Student voice and advocacy—having kids learn how to control some aspects of their own learning—will continue to push the field to serve a diverse array of needs, passions, and interests while engaging adults in new ways to support kids. This will require further expansion of online and blended learning as a design feature for student-centric models.”

Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL)

“Public school budgets will continue to shrink, so more districts will do more business with online learning providers to fill in the gaps, and an increasing number will create full blended-learning models to get better learning results and save on costs. Just as technology has made virtually every other sector in society more productive, the same will happen in K-12 education out of necessity.