What is on the Horizon… report?

Horizon Report 2011The 2011 Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium Horizon Project is on the street, and like usual, I am not disappointed. Each year, I look forward to reading their report to get a glimpse of trending topics. Each year, they seem to be right on the mark. This year is no different.

The report focuses on six trending topics that are expected to be adopted in the following time frames: one year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. Here is a rundown of this report’s topics:

  • One year or less
    • Electronic books
    • Mobiles
  • Two to three years
    • Augmented reality
    • Game-based learning
  • Four to five years
    • Gesture-based computing
    • Learning Analytics

When the team put together this report, they also highlighted a couple of items worth noting. They noted that people are expecting to be able to learn from wherever they are with whatever device they have. They also noted that more individuals are using cloud-based computing to help them accomplish tasks in work, pleasure, and learning. Personally, this is where I am going with my computing. Increasingly, I am using my phone and iPad to accomplish tasks I would normally carry out on my computer.  I am also subscribing to more cloud-based technologies such as Diigo, Evernote, Dropbox, and Zotero. The authors noted that a transition to a more mobile, cloud-based system would have growing pains among administrators and faculty. Hoping to be a leader in the use of technology, the Horizon Project is setting an example with its Horizon Project Navigator.

The Horizon Project Navigator is a dynamic social media platform that allows users to fully exploit the Horizon Project’s extensive collection of relevant articles, research, and projects related to emerging technology and its applications worldwide. Users can contribute new information, add their own commentary and analysis, configure and save custom searches, and rate anything in the dataset.”

The work of the team can be viewed on the Horizon Report Wiki. Here is what resonated with me.

Electronic Books

More and more people are purchasing electronic books or ebooks. Amazon reported they were selling more ebooks compared to traditional books at a margin close to two to one. Personally, I have increased the number of ebooks I have purchased, this is in large part due to owning an iPad. Ebook publishers are not only converting books into digital replicas but they are also extending books with audio, video, and links. Expect this trend to continue. The report notes ebooks are more popular with the general population compared to those in academia. Fortunately, book purchasers have an option in more and more cases; I can typically choose between an ebook and a traditional book. The authors also mention programs like Flipboard, which transform regular RSS or Twitter feeds and converts them into magazine type viewing. Scholarly journals are continuing to move to digital formats. Personally, I am a strong advocate for having a digital option for books and journals. Here are a few links noted in the report worth reviewing:


In the Horizon Report, the authors pointed out that more people are now using mobile devices as their primary tools to access the Internet. I am finding myself grabbing my iPad as I settle in for the evening. I typically scour my Facebook, e-mail, and Twitter feeds as I watch television. More and more faculty are also engaging students through mobile devices by using programs like Twitter and Polleverywhere. I found one example of mobile usage to be particularly interesting.

At Abilene Christian University, attendees at a recent performance of Othello were asked not to turn their phones off during the performance, but instead to use them to receive messages throughout the performance. Cast members behind the scenes sent messages to clarify Shakespearean language, share scene summaries, and interact with the audience through a live blog.

Here are some links for additional information:

Augmented Reality

“Augmented reality (AR) refers to the addition of a computer-assisted contextual layer of information over the real world, creating a reality that is enhanced or augmented.” The authors describe two types of AR methods; using a visual representation, and geo-locating. At the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, we are exploring the idea of QR codes to help tie the physical world to the virtual world. I also participate in Foursquare, which is a mobile game that relies on geo-location. Here is one nice example of AR mentioned in the report:

The Museum of London, for example, released a free iPhone app called StreetMuseum that uses GPS positioning and geo-tagging to allow users as they travel around the city of London to view information and 3D historical images overlaid on contemporary buildings and sites.

Interested in augmented reality, then check out these links:

Game-based Learning

I was happy to see the game-based learning section in this report. As the authors point out, games can range from paper-and-pencil to massively multiplayer online games. Once a week, I join my guildmates on World of Warcraft as we learn how to use WoW to support training. This research project was started by a couple of ASTD friends. If you are interested, please check out our guild, Azeroth Training Society. Research on games has identified principles which can be leveraged in support of education and learning.

Here are a few links to additional information:

These last two sections are just beginning to appear.

Gesture-based Computing

Basically, this focuses on interface options other than a keyboard and mouse. My only experience with gesture-based computing is with the new Kinect for the Xbox; it does take a little time to learn how to use it. I believe this type of computing will be able to help a lot of people with different disabilities. Here are some links to more information:

Learning Analytics

Last but not least, the Horizon Project took a look at learning analytics. I personally think this is an area that needs a lot of attention. Students are falling through the cracks unnecessarily because we have not developed a system which will identify negative trends in a student’s performance in real time. The authors point out that there are research and product development in systems that would send an alert when a trigger was activated. Better analytics can also be used to improve courses. Metrics were important when I was in the Air Force, they seem to be less so since I have been out.

Here is the last set of links to visit:

I hope you are as pleased with the list as I am. I told you a little bit about how these topics relate to me. How do they relate to you? Is there anything on the list that excites you?

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