On the Horizon

nmc14

I am not at the Educause Learning Initiative 2014 conference this year, but I always look forward to the New Media Consortium‘s annual Horizon Report, in which a team of colleagues from around the world attempt to forecast six key trends, six significant challenges, and six emerging technologies that will impact teaching and learning in higher education.  I had the opportunity to serve on the K-12 Horizon Report Advisory Board in 2011 and 2012, so I know the hard work that goes in to developing these trends, challenges, and forecasts.

For the 2014 report key trends (with the somewhat provocative abstracts quoted) ,

  • The growing ubiquity of social media and the integration of online, hybrid and collaborative learning were noted as “fast trends” driving change in the next two years.

“Social media is changing the way people interact,present ideas and information, and judge the quality of content and contributions… The impact of these changes in scholarly communication and on the credibility of information remains to be seen, but it is clear that social media has found significant traction in almost every education sector.”

“Education paradigms are shifting to include more online learning, blended and hybrid learning, and collaborative models. Students already spend much of their free time on the Internet, learning and exchanging new information. Institutions that embrace face-to-face, online, and hybrid learning models have the potential to leverage the online skills learners have already developed independent of academia. Online learning environments can offer different affordances than physical campuses, including opportunities for increased collaboration while equipping students with stronger digital skills. Hybrid models, when designed and implemented successfully, enable students to travel to campus for some activities, while using the network for others, taking advantage of the best of both environments.”

  • The rise of data-driven learning and assessment and the shift of students as consumers to students as creators were noted as “mid-range trends” driving change within three to five years.

“There is a growing interest in using new sources of data for personalizing the learning experience and for performance measurement.  As learners participate in online activities, they leave an increasingly clear trail of analytics data that can be mined for insights… As the field of learning analytics matures, the hope is that this information will enable continual improvement of learning outcomes.”

“A shift is taking place in the focus of pedagogical practice on university campuses all over the world as students across a wide variety of disciplines are learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content. Creativity, as illustrated by the growth of user-generated videos, maker communities, and crowdfunded projects in the past couple years, is increasingly the means for active, hands-on learning.”

  • Agile approaches to change and the evolution of online learning were noted as long-range trends, driving change out beyond five years.

“There is a growing consensus among many higher education thought leaders that institutional leadership and curricula could benefit from agile startup models… The Lean Startup movement uses technology as a catalyst for promoting a culture of innovation in a more widespread, cost-effective manner. Pilots and other experimental programs are being developed for teaching and improving organizational structure to more effectively nurture entrepreneurship among both students and faculty.”

“Over the past several years, there has been a shift in the perception of online learning to the point where it is seen as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning. The value that online learning offers is now well understood, with flexibility, ease of access, and the integration of sophisticated multimedia and technologies chief among the list of appeals…  While growing steadily, this trend is still a number of years away from its maximum impact. Progress in learning analytics, adaptive learning, and a combination of cutting-edge asynchronous and synchronous tools will continue to advance the state of online learning and keep it compelling…”

Significant challenges foreseen included:

  • Solvable challenges such as the relative low digital fluency of some faculty, as well as the relative lack of rewards for teaching.

“Faculty training still does not acknowledge the fact that digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. Despite the widespread agreement on the importance of digital media literacy, training in the supporting skills and techniques is rare in teacher education and non-existent in the preparation of faculty <…those of us in faculty development would argue that “non-existent” is inaccurate…but widespread adoption is probably accurate>. As lecturers and professors begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral.”

“Teaching is often rated lower than research in academia… There is an overarching sense in the academic world that research credentials are a more valuable asset than talent and skill as an instructor… To balance competing priorities, larger universities are experimenting with alternating heavy and light teaching loads throughout the school year, and hiring more adjunct professors.”

  • More difficult challenges, such as the emerging competition from new models of education, as well as the ability to scale innovations in teaching.

“New models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional models of higher education… As these new platforms emerge, there is a growing need to frankly evaluate the models and determine how to best support collaboration, interaction, and assessment at scale. Simply capitalizing on new technology is not enough; the new models must use these tools and services to engage students on a deeper level.”

“Our organizations are not adept at moving teaching innovations into mainstream practice. Innovation springs from the freedom to connect ideas in new ways… A pervasive aversion to change limits the diffusion of new ideas, and too often discourages experimentation.”

  • Wicked challenges, such as expanding access or keeping higher education relevant.

“The global drive to increase the number of students participating in undergraduate education is placing pressure across the system. The oft-cited relationship between earning potential and educational attainment plus the clear impact of an educated society on the growth of the middle class is pushing governments to encourage more and more students to enter universities and colleges…”

“Many pundits worry that if higher education does not adapt to the times, other models of learning (especially other business models) will take its place…institutional stakeholders must address the question of what universities can provide that other approaches cannot, and rethink the value of higher education from a student’s perspective.”

To determine emerging technologies, NMC grouped technologies into seven categories:

edtech

2014 Higher Ed NMC Horizon Report p. 35

The six technologies highlighted as emerging this year included:

  • Adoption in next year: Flipped Classrooms and Learning Analytics

“The flipped classroom refers to a model of learning that rearranges how time is spent both in and out of class to shift the ownership of learning from the educators to the students… The goal is for students to learn more authentically by doing.”

“Learning analytics is an educational application of “big data”… new ways of applying to improve student engagement and provide a high-quality, personalized experience for learners.”

  • Adoption in next two to three years: 3D Printing and Gamification

“Known in industrial circles as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from threedimensional (3D) digital content… This technology is commonly used in manufacturing to build prototypes of almost any object (scaled to fit the printer, of course) that can be conveyed in three dimensions.”

“The games culture has grown to include a  substantial proportion of the world’s population, with the age of the average gamer increasing with each passing year. As tablets and smartphones have proliferated, desktop and laptop computers, television sets, and gaming consoles are no longer the only way to connect with other players online, making game-play a portable activity that can happen in a diverse array of settings. Gameplay has long since moved on from solely being recreational and has found considerable traction in the military, business and industry, and increasingly, education as a useful training and motivation tool…the gamification of education is gaining support among educators who recognize that effectively designed games can stimulate large gains in productivity and creativity among learners.”

  • Adoption in four to five years: Quantified Self and Virtual Assistants

“Quantified self describes the phenomenon of consumers being able to closely track data that is relevant to their daily activities through the use of technology. The emergence of wearable devices on the market such as watches, wristbands, and necklaces that are designed to automatically collect data are helping people manage their fitness, sleep cycles, and eating habits. Mobile apps also share a central role in this idea by providing easy-to-read dashboards for consumers to view and analyze their personal metrics… Today’s apps not only track where a person goes, what they do, and how much time they spend doing it, but now what their aspirations are and when those can be accomplished… As more people rely on their mobile devices to monitor their daily activities, personal data is becoming a larger part of everyday life.”

“As voice recognition and gesture-based technologies advance and more recently, converge, we are quickly moving away from the notion of interacting with our devices via a pointer and keyboard. Virtual assistants are a credible extension of work being done with natural user interfaces (NUIs), and the first examples are already in the marketplace. Virtual assistants …and their applications for learning are clearly in the long-term horizon, but the potential of the technology to add substance to informal modes of learning is compelling.”

Of interest to me, the framework of the Up-Scaling Creative Classrooms (CCR) project out of Europe was used to identify implications for policy, leadership, and practice related to the identified trends and challenges.  A visualization of the CCR is as follows:

CCR Project

There is a lot crammed in to his graphic…but they do try and show some of the interrelationships between ideas.

Jon Becker tweeted:

becker tweet

… and then later tweeted his own answer with a link to a 2011 study by Martin, Diaz, Sancristobal, Gil, Castro and Peire – “New technology trends in education: Seven years of forecasts and convergence.”  They noted:

“The bibliometric analysis over the predictions highlights that some of the predictions were right, e.g., social networks, user-created content, games, virtual worlds and mobile devices. Other predictions did not have the expected impact, e.g., knowledge Web, learning objects and open content, context-awareness and ubiquitous computing. However, other predictions were successful, although their impact was delayed one or two years, e.g., grassroots videos and collaborative Web. Regarding the application of the bibliometric analysis to the obtained metatrends, the evolution of learning objects toward open content did not seem to be successful due to the low index of publications about open content. However, the metatrend of ubiquitous computing and context-awareness toward mobile devices was successful, according to the high index of publications. Other metatrend that can be considered successful was the evolution from augmented reality toward mobile augmented reality. The increasing importance of mobile devices in education is fostering all the technologies related to them. Augmented reality did not have the expected influence in education in 2008–2010, although, according with its publication evolution, it will probably play a more important role on 2011–2012.”

So, a track record that is not 100% but not bad either.  For our potential future faculty in GRAD-602, as well as our mobile scholars in UNIV-391, this report suggests a future in which they will live and work.

Check out this year’s Horizon Report.  What insights do you gain from this?

 

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