Get Ready for the Future of EdTech: NMC Horizon Report
“The annual Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative is out! The 2013 edition for higher education presents some interesting predictions for trends in educational technology over the next five years. This is the 10th year for the project, “designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education.”
The final report includes thorough descriptions of each technology, along with links to examples of how it is applied in educational settings and related reading. Let’s take a closer look at the list of items included in the report and explore resources for getting up to speed on each one.
One Year or Less
The creators of the Horizon Report predict that the impact of these four technologies is imminent with “time-to-adoption” within the next 12 months. They may already be familiar to you even if you aren’t using them in your courses.
- Flipped Classroom: “A model that rearranges how time is spent both in and out of class,” the flipped classroom focuses on active learning strategies in the face-to-face setting while more passive learning activities are conducted online. Take a look at the Flipped Classroom: Professional Development Workshop from Educator Jackie Gerstein.
- MOOCs: The Massive Open Online Course has evolved from its networked learning roots to more “high profile” offerings through organizations like Coursera and Udacity, as well as adoption by traditional institutions. Consider participating in an upcoming MOOC to experience the environment first hand.
- Mobile Apps: Smartphones and tablets alike leverage these low or no-cost software applications that allow us to access resources and communicate from anywhere we can find a signal. Review session recordings from the 2013 VILS Virtual Conference on Mobile Technology for Learning, Teaching, and Leading in STEM, sponsored by ISTE and Verizon.
- Tablet Computing: Devices such as the iPad and Microsoft Surface pack a lot of computing power without “requiring a mouse or keyboard,” making them “easily adaptable to almost any learning environment.” EdTechTeacher.org provides a series of recorded webinars related to iPads, eBooks, and more.
Two to Three Years
This list also includes items you may have already experienced as an instructor or student. How might these technologies impact your approach to higher education in the next few years?
- Augmented Reality: While not yet widely used in education, AR is found in some social and location-based applications that allow users to “construct new understanding based on interactions with virtual objects.” Explore the EDUCAUSE online library for recent presentations and papers on this topic.
- Game-based Learning: The use of gaming characteristics, such as collaboration and problem-solving challenges, is also gaining popularity as a way to engage and motivate students to reach learning goals. Research some of the latest examples of learning games though the resources provided by GETideas.org.
- The Internet of Things: “Objects that carry information with them have long been used for the monitoring of sensitive equipment or materials,” and are finding use in education to track data in learning environments. Princeton University’s Educational Technologies Center addresses the Internet of Things and education with examples and a brief video.
- Learning Analytics: As educators and institutions have access to larger collections of data about course content use and student progress, the analysis of this information may be used to improve user experience and learning environments. View presentations cataloged through WCET’s PAR Framework, “a collaborative, multi-institutional data mining project.”
Four to Five Years
Looking even further into the future, these technologies were chosen by NMC and EDUCAUSE as ones to watch in higher education.
- 3D Printing: Specialized printers “build tangible models or prototypes from a file, one layer at a time,” taking Computer Aided Design (CAD) to a new level. What if online students could print 3D models for study in the sciences, engineering, architecture, etc.? Educator Daniel K. Schneider is collecting resources related to the use of 3D printing in education via the eduTechWiki.
- Flexible Displays: These thin displays “can wrap around curved surfaces, allowing for the possibility of smart tables and desks.” Huffington Post Tech reports on the flexible displays showcased at this year’s Computer Electronics Show.
- Next Generation Batteries: We’ve all experienced the challenges of a dead battery in a phone, laptop, or other piece of equipment. Batteries that last longer and charge more quickly could extend our range as educators and learners, and the life of our devices. The conference overview for Next Generation Batteries 2013 reveals some of the science and expertise involved in the pursuit of “greater safety, reliability, and performance.”
- Wearable Technology: Clothing, glasses, jewelry, and other objects can integrate technology that allows us to communicate, collect data, and receive alerts in new ways. Engaget presents several examples, including Google Glass and smartwatches.
A quick comparison with the 2012 Horizon Report [PDF] reveals that MOOCs and the flipped classroom weren’t included last year, nor were any of the items in the “four to five years time-to adoption” list for 2013. Only one item included in the 2012 “four to five years” list, Internet of Things, carried over to the 2013 report.
The remaining long-range items on the 2102 list – digital identity, gesture-based computing, and haptic interfaces – don’t appear in the 2013 report at all, but may surface again (note that flexible displays were on the 2010 list and appear again in 2013). The year-to-year differences are a reflection of the dynamic nature of technology both in terms of popularity of use and in the evolution of capabilities.
Only time will tell how each of these technologies may affect your online classrooms and interaction with students. Consider adding one of them to your professional development efforts for the coming year, and explore the options for conducting action research about the use of emerging technology in your classroom.”