Emerging technologies for education: the 2013 Horizon Report

What emerging technologies will impact academia over the next few years?

Horizon Report cover, the 2012 edition.

The 2012 edition.

Over the past several years I’ve been working on the higher education version of the Horizon Report, a New Media Consortium (NMC) and Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) project designed to address this question.  Horizon uses the Delphi method., involving 40+ experts from around the world in a three-month process to collaborative identify key trends (Wikipedia; my explainer article, which puts Delphi in context).  NMC staff then turn the results into a short, accessible, Creative Commons-licensed report, published annually.

I always enjoy the Horizon work cycle.  There’s much to learn from a very diverse group, both in terms of content and about the distributed collaborative process.  Participants are quick to offer arguments and pushback, examples and institutional experience.  NMC staff are a treat to work with.

The full higher ed Horizon Report for 2013 is forthcoming shortly, but the trend analysis is complete and public.  You can find a preview (pdf) and a call for exemplary projects, along with the Delphi process wiki.  Let me share the results with you, along with some thoughts.

First, the technologies.  These are assigned on a timeline as follows:

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

  • Massively Open Online Courses
  • Tablet Computing

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

  • Big Data and Learning Analytics
  • Game-Based Learning

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

  • 3D Printing
  • Wearable Technology

MOOCs are a new one for Horizon, as they were for the rest of us.  Tablet computing was there last year, and persists this time, reflecting both the machines’ possibilities and their first uses so far.

I speak on the Horizon Report.  Photo by Cogdog.

Me speaking on the Horizon Report way back in ’06.

Game-based learning and big data: these have been on Horizon’s radar for several years, but have yet to cross over into the 1-2 year spot.  Economic stresses played a role in keeping gaming from going mainstream, along with the colossal failure of Second Life and virtual worlds in general to make a significant impact.  Big data, especially for learning, remains unrealized in part because of little action in the commodity sphere.

3d printing: perhaps this ranking is too pessimistic, given the rapidity with which it has advanced in 2012.  And yet I wonder: will 3d printing become the tool for selected disciplines (art, architecture, various engineerings, etc), or will it spread across the curriculum, as with writing?  Wearable tech seems bound up with augmented reality (AR) in my view; that’s a tech which didn’t appear this time.

Next, the Horizon Report observes a set of “Key Trends”:

The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators.

Both formal and informal learning experiences are becoming increasingly important as college graduates continue to face a highly competitive workforce.

Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning, and collaborative models.

Massively open online courses are proliferating.

Open is a key trend in future education and publication, specifically in terms of open content, open educational resources, massively open online courses, and open access.

There is an increasing interest in using data for personalizing the learning experience and for performance measures.

This is all very sensible, and occasionally cheering, as with open education.  I agitated for some other trends in the process, including the disintegration and reimagining of computational devices, the rise of the digital humanities (really a vital trend), and the entrepreneurship boom.

I’ve also been tracking trends all year as part of my NITLE work, like so:

Word cloud from my 2012 NITLE Future Trends reports.

Word cloud from my 2012 NITLE Future Trends reports.

Third, the Horizon Report concludes with “Significant Challenges”.

Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.

The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices.

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.

Economic pressures and new models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional models of tertiary education.

Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies.

Most academics are not using new and compelling technologies for learning and teaching, nor for organizing their own research.

Again, these are all solid, and worthy of discussion by any institution.  There were others which concerned me, such as the ongoing economic crisis and questions of equity (it’s not a very political Horizon Report).  The general sense of educational crisis, both in academia and K-12, is the most powerful I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and I don’t see that fading in 2013.  It’s one of the challenges, and trends.

Overall, Horizon 2013 is another fine report.  It’s useful to anyone in higher education who wants to think and work on the future of their institution.

(photo of me by Cogdog)

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17 Responses to Emerging technologies for education: the 2013 Horizon Report

  1. Pingback: Emerging technologies for education: the 2013 Horizon Report … | supercindy01

  2. I personally thought this report was fairly weak and backward looking. For example, Are major university industrial design and engineering programs actually 3-5 years away from including 3d printers and other rapid prototyping technologies in instruction? I’m under the impression that Makerbots and other consumer grade systems are already appearing in K-12. This report reads like something someone cobbled together after reading Mashable, Techcrunch or ReadWrite rather than actual interviews with early adopters and other Ed Tech Industry leaders.

    • Todd Bryant says:

      3D printing may spread more quickly, but keep in mind as well that these time frames are estimates of when a technology would become mainstream. For 3D printing, this would mean crossing over into the humanities and social sciences as well.

  3. I should add that I’m generally a fan of your work and I suppose my original comment is a bit harsh. I would be happy to talk to you about some technologies that I think would be more forward looking.

    • I appreciate that (belatedly!), John. To be fair, Horizon isn’t my work. I’m one of four dozen advisors, plus the NMC staff.
      If you’ll forgive the hideous delay of this reply, I’d be happy to chat.

  4. bryantt says:

    Bryan, I wonder if you would expand on your thoughts on the reimagining of computational devices. Something like the Ubuntu phone/computer?

    It does seem like new publishing and research models could have received more attention.

  5. Pingback: Ed Tech 2013 and Beyond – Fountains of Fontaine

  6. Stephen says:

    Despite doing tech for a living, i think the education revolution here in the US needs to come from improving education using much more traditional approaches. Evidence based teaching. Step one: repeal NCLB. There was no pilot. You simply can’t teach by testing. The Finn’s are bemused by it. “We already know how are students are doing.” Step two: remove education control from politicians, and put it into the hands of educators. Get Congress and school boards out of it. Masters degrees for all teachers.

    University education has been pretty stupid too. Can you imagine picking the smartest kids from high schools, then failing 3/4 of them? It’s absurd.

  7. Pingback: Emerging technologies for education: the 2013 Horizon Report | Education Equipment | Educational News

  8. M.Baskaran,India says:

    In asian background the online learning is in he hands of educated and its all in business men rather in true dedicated faculties who have concern for real learning and tose who cannot afford to have access to computers. so it is to say that the project should go to the grassroot level breaking the barricades of all politicians and those who are selfless and sincere n learning and teaching

  9. Hi Bryan,

    First of all, thanks for the early tip on the Horizon Report summarized in a succinct post. I enjoyed your comments as well.

    1) I’m seeing an increased usage of the real time Internet. I would consider this an emerging technology. This includes videoconferencing (Google Hangouts, Skype, Facetime, Livestreaming), short form communication (Twitter primarily, but also G+, FB), and collaboration tools (Gdocs). It has become simple to connect and learn with others in real time, connected ways, and also is building upon a past trend, mobile learning. With many people connected by devices, using the real time internet, you have a new landscape for learning that is always on. Would this be considered an emerging technology trend?

    2) I have to disagree with you about a perceived educational crisis. I think that there are new ways of learning that some people are taking advantage of, and I think that there may be added pressure due to the media (who loves talking about bursting bubbles), but generally I think all of the opportunities technology provides are creating better teachers, better students, who are accessing higher quality information and building new types of networks of learning, that will move this country forward. Resources today are abundant, not just for students, but also for teachers who are connected across lines and improving daily. It is an exciting time to live technologically, but more importantly, the connections and sharing that are happening are building an even more superior educational system with proactive, excited teachers and professors. I think there is just enough media fear to energize education across the board, and to encourage those who are interested to take an even more active role in their learning. You may see a crisis, I see an amazing opportunity that many in education are embracing.

    3) Why are MOOCs proliferating so quickly? I think it has something to do with their connected nature, global reach, open nature. But I think the name has something to do with it as well. Yet, given their claims of “growing faster than Facebook” I believe that less than 1% of high school or college students have heard the term in the US, or know about them. Take a look at this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gartnergroup/2012/09/18/key-trends-to-watch-in-gartner-2012-emerging-technologies-hype-cycle-2/ MOOCs are clearly still climbing the first peak, and then will likely fall into the trough. Or will they? Can their connected nature help them skip the trough?

    Thanks again for the work you do tirelessly to stay on top of this dynamic niche.

  10. Pingback: Emerging technologies for education: the 2013 Horizon Report « digitalcollaboration

  11. Thanks for the piece.
    Isn’t the trend also geo-spatial, as location is increasingly used to provide us with the information we need via apps and the Cloud? Offering visualisations. making meaning of information. millions of maps a month being generated.
    It’s also leading a huge revolution in sharing. What future for citizen science and participatory spatial citizenship?

  12. Pingback: Second winter reading list | Aetherbunny

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