General

Review: NMC Horizon Report

The Horizon Report is a study of emerging technologies put out annually since 2002 by the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.  The New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE are both not-for-profit associations which support the use of technology in education.  The report contains 6 technologies identified as being the most important to teaching in the next five years.  The six technologies chosen for the 2013 report include some general technologies, as well as others which are education specific, but each has the potential to have a significant influence on education.

In order to create the report, an international board of 51 members reviewed literature on emerging technologies, then discussed them through a wiki until they were able to create the final list.  The technologies are divided into three horizons: within 1 year, within 2 to 3 years,  and within 4 to 5 years.  Within 1 year, massively open online courses (MOOCs) and tablet computers were chosen as the technologies to watch.  Games and gamification, along with learning analytics were chosen for the mid-term horizon of 2 to 3 years.  3D printing and wearable technology were chosen for their potential for teaching in 4 to 5 years.

For each technology, the report effectively identifies key features which have led to its current success, as well explicit identification of its potential role in education.  This is followed by samples and examples of the technology being used in higher education, and a list of additional reading material on the subject.

The categorization of the list into horizons is helpful in identifying where the technology may be in terms of implementation.  We see that MOOCs have gained substantial traction as a tool in education with approximately 2,500,000 users, and that their importance to education is current.  The far term horizon technologies such as 3D printing are of interest, but more for reference unless your institute is an early adopter.

The key features in the technology’s success summarizes why these technologies are becoming of importance now.  For tablet computers, the report identifies the Bring-Your-Own-Device movement on campus as contributing to the technology’s success.  In doing so, the report clarifies factors which may have been absent for prior versions of the technology.  As well, this clarification provides insight into the environment which may facilitate the use of the technology within your own setting.

Likewise, the explicit identification of the technology’s relevance to education provides additional details which educators may apply to their own situations.  For gaming, the report offers badges as a feature of gaming which allows for recognition of achievements.  This detail provides a possible solution to a question which may arise during the technology’s implementation.

The samples and examples provide two benefits; they introduce the reader to a variety of possible uses for the technology, and they provide concrete examples of the technology’s use in education.

The organized layout of the report, along with its concise outline of fundamentals, makes the Horizon Report a valuable resource for educators looking to introduce or prepare for new technology coming to their settings.  Likewise, learning technology specialists and venturers would benefit from the identified success criteria, ensuring they provide products which meet educational goals effectively.

When our administration makes decisions regarding technology purchases or implementation, I would recommend the Horizon Report to identify and explain technology trends.  I would refer to future editions to check trends, criteria for technology implementation, and to peruse the samples/examples.  Considering that three editions of the report exist to address specific needs of higher education, K-12 and museum education, I would look for the K-12 edition for targeted trends in our bracket.

References:

Johnson, L., Adams Becker,S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V.,   Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013).  NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition.  Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Average: 2.8/5 Stars

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