The 2018 Horizon Report, started by the New Media Consortium in 2017, was completed and published by EDUCAUSE this week.
I have many thoughts to share here. I’d also like to broaden the conversation beyond what I’ve seen so far.
My perspective is based on many years of working on and with Horizon Reports. I’ve been on the expert panel for nearly a decade, and chaired it once. I’ve led many presentations and workshops on Horizon, including for NERCOMP. I’ve used Horizon as an example of the Delphi forecasting method in my scholarship and workshops about futures work. I’ve connected with hundreds if not thousands of people through Horizon.
First, congratulations and thanks to Noreen Barajas-Murphy, Susan Grajek, Malcolm Brown, John O’Brien, and the rest of the EDUCAUSE team for doing this work! They not only rescued most of the Horizon project’s intellectual property, but then conducted research (including identifying many exemplars), wrote tens of thousands of words (over 32,000 by my count), carefully produced a full document with appropriate style, then published it openly. That’s an awful lot of work, which hasn’t been recognized.
They also did a fine job of honoring the Horizon structure and style. As EdSurge reports,
“We’re very committed to following the format of the previous NMC report,” says Noreen Barajas-Murphy, interim director of academic community programs, who led the completion of the document. “It was really important to us that it have not just the look, but that it also read and felt like a Horizon Report.”
Second, I want to recognize that Susan Grajek also openly and publicly laid out her vision for where EDUCAUSE is taking Horizon. For those interested in EDUCAUSE, the NMC’s legacy, Horizon, or ed tech professional development this is welcome and important. Note that she describes folding the Top 10 list into Horizon, as well as drawing in former NMC members to both EDUCAUSE in general and ELI in particular. In addition, previous Horizon domain areas beyond higher education are on the table (“We’ll be exploring those soon.”). I’m very glad to see this kind of strategic reflection being shared openly, and look forward to discussions.
Third, as to the report’s findings… keep in mind I’ve had these since nearly a year ago, as part of the expert panel. I was also only one member of the panel, so its conclusions are not necessarily mine! Campus Technology offers a nice intro, so I’ll focus here on my very quick responses.
Under “Long-Term Trends for Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for five or more years” were “Advancing Cultures of Innovation” and “Cross-Institution & Cross-Sector Collaboration.” Depending on how you count instances of the former, I’m seeing that all over the place now, driven partly by excitement over technological possibility and also by growing anxiety over the higher education crisis. The latter… oh, I hope so. I agree that it’s not coming to pass soon.
For “Mid-Term Trends: (three to five years)” the report found “Proliferation of Open Educational Resources” and “The Rise of New Forms of Interdisciplinary Studies.” OER is definitely rising, and this timeline might actually be precise (cf my post from yesterday). Interdisciplinary studies have been emerging since, well, disciplines; new, technology-driven fields are appearing now.
“Short-Term Trends: (one to two years)” leads off with “Growing Focus on Measuring Learning.” That’s certainly growing, not without resistance. “Redesigning Learning Spaces” is an ongoing trend.
Under “Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in Higher Education” we find three categories. Solvable Challenges (“Those that we understand and know how to solve”) include “Authentic Learning Experiences” and “Improving Digital Literacy.” Note the work the word “solvable” does here. We can solve these. We do have solutions. The thing is to actually implement them.
Then there are “Difficult Challenges: Those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive.” “Adapting Organizational Designs to the Future of Work” is something the human race is trying to figure out, and some of us are interested in humane adaptions and improvements. “Advancing Digital Equity” is a very difficult one, and one most of use really don’t care about.
Ramping things up, there are “Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address.” “Economic and Political Pressures” are, well, what I’ve been working on for more than a decade, as my readers, clients, and listeners know. “Rethinking the Roles of Educators” is a subtle one; cf my preceding point about humane adaptations. (These are two I pressured the panel to consider.)
Then we turn to technology per se (and I’m fascinated by how large this third looms in people’s estimation). Under the “One Year or Less” horizon are “Analytics Technologies” and Makerspaces. Agreed on the former. But are makerspaces still growing in higher ed, or have they plateaued? A little farther out (2-3 years) are “Adaptive Learning Technologies” and AI, which makes sense given the state of play in those fields. Further along (4-5 years) are mixed reality and robotics. I’m honestly not sure we’ll see that much in the way of robotics are part of teaching, beyond their use as objects of study (both research and curriculum).
As for the report’s method… since I’m tens of thousands of words into my book on higher ed’s future, including a chapter on methods, I have plenty to say on this and could easily emit a string of posts just on it. For now, I want to acknowledge that EDUCAUSE carried forth to conclusion the method that NMC started with, both for Horizon in general and this report in particular. I’d like to add that Susan Grajek seems open to experiment for subsequent reports, which is excellent.
What does this mean for the FOEcast project? It means a richer conversation about the future of education. FOEcast has a new thing which we’re about to release, which will hopefully add to that conversation as well. We’re also looking ahead to… but I’ll say more soon. That’s not what this post is about. Today I want to recognize the work of EDUCAUSE, the late NMC, and all of the people who helped create this report.
Welcome back, Horizon.