What is on the Horizon… The 2012 Report

2012 Horizon Report HE
2012 Horizon Report HE

The latest issue of the Horizon Report for Higher Education is now available from the New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Project. As with each year, this report is packed with great information on projected trends forming over the next five years. As I look over the report, I would have to say they are again accurate with their predictions, at least from my vantage point.

Again, 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
    • Mobile Apps
    • Tablet Computing
  • Two to three years
    • Game-based learning
    • Learning Analytics
  • Four to five years
    • Gesture-based computing
    • Internet of Things

As I compare this report with the 2011 Horizon Report, I am noticing a couple of things. First of all, electronic books are no longer being reported; ebooks seem to have become an adopted mainstay in our use of technology, and there are major efforts to develop e-textbooks. Mobiles have morphed into Mobile Apps and Tablet Computing, which have been added on a one year or less adoption rate.  Game-based learning is still being reported in the two to three-year adoption plan, and Learning Analytics has moved up from the four to five-year adoption horizon. Gesture-based computing remains in the four to five-year adoption horizon and Internet of things has been added to that category.

I enjoyed reading this report simply because I wanted to know if I am on track with what I am learning about, as well as what I am recommending to others. I am pleased to say I have not been disappointed. Each year, starting in 2002, the Horizon Report has provided insight into trends expected to enter the mainstream within one to five years. In each example, the authors provide reasons and examples for their decisions. The New Media Consortium not only provides a report for higher education but also for primary and secondary education, and museum education. Each report highlights six trends and includes recommended readings where you can learn more. In addition to the report, the New Media Consortium provides a 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.

Before addressing each technology, I would like to speak to the key trends that New Media Consortium writes about. They listed six trends that they believe will influence education now and in the future. First of all, learners are increasingly able to access information on any subject when and where they want to. I certainly find myself in this type of learning mode. Regardless of where I am, if I am interested in a topic, I can use either my computer, iPad, or smartphone to find the answer I need. I am always connected. I am also quite dependent on cloud-based resources. I rely on Evernote, Dropbox, Zotero, Diigo, and Google Docs, as I carry out my work and play. I also find myself collaborating online more with others using tools such as Google Docs, MindMeister, Dropbox, and Skype. I also agree with the authors’ views that the ability to connect anytime and anywhere for anything is challenging the roles of educators but providing exciting ways to teach, e.g., flipped instruction and project-based learning.

Here is what I found in the 2012 Horizon report that resonated with me.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps have become indispensable to my work, study, and play. But I am not the only one, according to NMC 18 billion apps have been downloaded through Apple, and 10 billion apps downloaded for the Android market.  Apps are unique programs typically designed to handle a specific range of tasks. On my iPad, I have 96 apps. Here is a set of installed apps that I use on a regular basis, my favorite iPad Apps. Here are my favorite apps for my smartphone. Many of these apps allow me to access data and resources that I need to do my work, others are simply for my entertainment. A couple of the applications leverage the GPS information to provide me with information that is relevant to me where I am located. Other programs allow me to function more efficiently by integrating with the cloud.  Evernote, for example, allows me to capture ideas when I am out of the office but makes them immediately available once I return. I have this application loaded on all my devices from computers, to iPad, to a smart phone. Other applications allow me to read my books, news, and social media feeds while on the road; this saves on lugging large books around. Mobile apps are extremely convenient. Higher education is increasingly investing more time, talent, and treasure into making mobile apps that are applicable to the institution, classes, and individuals.  The NMC Horizon Report highlights a number of these initiatives. While I am not aware of any initiatives on the University of Wyoming campus, there are a number of pages recommending mobile apps.

Since 2009, Abilene Christian University has provided each student with an iPhone or iPod Touch, in addition to offering professors mobile training and support.

Here are recommended NMC reading resources:

Tablet Computing

I would like to begin by saying that I love my iPad! I use my iPad for, as the authors describe, “lean back” learning. My iPad is my number one tool for reading outside of work. In the evening and on the weekends, when I want to read the news, blogs, books, and magazines, I grab my iPad. As the authors point out, the screen is a convenient size and has the quality to be able to read easily, examine photos closely, and it can be manipulated with a touch of a finger. With my applications, I can easily access materials I have stored in Dropbox or Evernote. I have loaded my iPad with important documents that are accessible anywhere I am.  Everyone I work with and meet with now owns an iPad. I am confident they would agree that it is now a tool they would rather not be without. Because it is a not a “lean forward” technology, creating content does take a little more effort. I personally do not write blog posts on the iPad because it takes more effort. However, I use it to read extensively. Universities around the world are experimenting with how to incorporate tablets into the classroom. I personally believe that the key is tying into social learning and supporting informal learning.

When the iPad was introduced, it was described as a “lean back” experience as contrasted to the “lean forward” experience of typical computers.

Here are recommended NMC reading resources:

Game-based Learning

Again, this section is being highlighted by NMC, and again, I am glad to see it. My involvement with game-based learning has increased. This year, I wrote three book reviews on the subject: Game frame: Using games as strategy for successThe Multiplayer Classroom; and Are we too serious? Should we play more games? Each of these books provided guidance on how to incorporate games into the classroom and basically make life more fun. Since the last Horizon Report, I have had the opportunity to collaborate on a gamification project for my committee chair; it was an interesting experiment trying to gamify a course. Christi Boggs, a fell instructional technology educational specialist, had an opportunity to gamify one of her classes, and she reported back similar findings that the authors of this report found “Students are engaged because they are motivated to do better, get to the next level, and succeed.” Also, during the past year, I had the opportunity to participate in 3D GameLab. This was a great opportunity to learn how to use the 3D GameLab program to develop a game system for a classroom. Naturally, my advancement in the game of World of Warcraft continues.

3D GameLab – Developed by Boise State University, 3D GameLab is a unique quest-based learning platform that can turn any classroom into a living game. 3D GameLab helps teachers tie innovative learning activities to standards, providing learners choice while they game their way through a competency-based curriculum.

This simulator/game stood out to me and I thought it was quite interesting. It is called simSchool. As simSchool states, “simSchool is like a ‘flight simulator’ for educators – a place where instructors can explore instructional strategies, examine classroom management techniques, and practice building relationships with students that will translate into increased learning.”

I am glad to see that games are here to stay.

Here are recommended NMC reading resources:

Learning Analytics

Does anyone else find it surprising that we can find out the smallest minutia about a football player or team, stock traders know the tiniest details about a company and its stock, yet, we cannot drill down effectively to predict the success of a student? According to NMC, efforts are on-going to be able to develop dashboards to alert advisers on the status of their students in real time. By integrating the data from learning management systems (LMS), student information systems, and other course data systems, real-time data can be pooled, analyzed, and alerts posted when students start to develop issues. I believe it will be important to capture even the smallest course details to make this a truly responsive system. Instead of relying on the end of course grades, each assignment, quiz, and project would need to be captured. By keeping the data current, an ongoing picture could be developed for each student. You would not only be able to see the struggle performers, but also the high achievers.  LMSs provide great reports when queried; however, I believe you need to build a dashboard with an alerting system to develop the level of responsiveness desired in a student support environment.
The larger promise of learning analytics, however, is that when correctly applied and interpreted, it will enable faculty to more precisely understand students’ learning needs and to tailor instruction appropriately far more accurately and far sooner than is possible today.
Here are recommended NMC reading resources:

Gesture-based Computing

Gesture-based computing allows users to engage in virtual activities with motions and movements similar to what they would use in the real world, manipulating content intuitively.
My only experience with gesture-based computing is with the Kinect for the Xbox; it does take a little time to learn how to use it. I am excited about the possibilities; however, I think four to five years is an optimistic prediction for mainstream educational use.
Here are recommended NMC reading resources:

Internet of Things

I have to be honest, this topic is taking me a little longer to wrap my head around. According to NMC, Internet of Things are “network-aware smart objects that connect the physical world with the world of information.” These devices can be radio-based identification tags, electronic payment tags, or even electronic appliances. Basically, these smart devices communicate with the environment and subsequently change the environment. In Bill Gates book, The Road Ahead, he gave an example of a person wearing an identification nameplate. When the person entered a room, the music and electronic pictures would change to suit the individual’s interests. It is another example of the physical world meshing with the virtual world.
Here are recommended NMC reading resources:
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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