Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's out there, on the horizon?

This weekend I finally found the time to read the Horizon Report for 2010. As in previous years the report outlines 6 emerging technologies that are likely to impact teaching and learning during the next 5 years. This year the following trends have been identified as likely to have an impact on education by 2015:
  • Easy access to the internet - information is everywhere and now the main challenge is to access how credible this information is.
  • People expect to be able to work, learn and study whenever and wherever they want. There is more emphasis on just-in-time learning that is timely and efficient.
  • Technologies are increasingly cloud-based. Most people are not concerned where their work is stored, only that it is accessible from any computer anywhere.
  • Students are working more collaboratively.
These trends create several challenges:
  • Teaching and learning must adapt to meet the needs to today's students and must emphasise critical thinking and inquiry.
  • Evaluation is failing to keep up with the new forms of researching, authoring and publishing.
  • Digital media literacy is a key skill in every subject and in every profession. There needs to be less emphasis on the tools and more on ways of thinking and seeing.
  • The economic crisis has led to cost cutting - which is in turn affecting the adoption of emerging technologies.
Here are the 6 technologies to watch in the next few years:
  1. Mobile computing, for example smart phones and netbooks with applications designed specifically for mobiles. People all over the world now have these devices which can connect wireless to the network from anywhere. Applications such as Evernote allow students to manage their information and applications such as Dropbox allow collaboration and sharing of files.
  2. Open content - free online course materials. As information is everywhere, the real challenge is to find and evaluate useful information and to make effective use of it. Concerns with open content include issues of intellectual property and copyright.
  3. Electronic books - hundreds of books can now be stored on very small mobile devices such as the Kindle.
  4. Augmented reality - especially applications for laptops and smart phones.
  5. Gesture based computing such as that used with the iPhone, iPodTouch and Wii.
  6. Visual data analysis - blending statistics and visualisation such as Gapminder (which I used a lot with my IB Geography class last year) and Wordle.
For me out of all these I am most excited about the eBooks. The Kindle was Amazon's top seller of last year and reading this report I discovered that the Kindle edition of books now account for half of Amazon's sales. Those people with Kindles buy 3 times as many books as they did before they had them - therefore people are reading more too. It's simple to purchase an eBook - and it takes just a few seconds (though Amazon is pretty good at shipping out the books too - I ordered 2 books last Tuesday from Amazon UK and they arrived in Switzerland on Thursday - not much of a wait!) The price of eBooks is a little lower too - and of course there's no paper so they are more environmentally friendly. I can imagine students would love to have all the books from all their courses on just one device rather than having to lug lots of different books between lessons and back and forth between home and school.


  1. Thanks for sharing your summary - I haven't had time to sit and read the full report yet but your post has me challenged to do so. I too am intrigued by the possibility of e-Readers in the classroom. I received a Kindle as a gift and am trying to think about applications as I read. Soon, I will embark upon my first professional e-read (Drive by Daniel Pink) to see if it would hold up as a textbook reader as well as for literature. I would love to hear more about what you discover as you use them!

  2. Isn't the report exciting? I really look forward to the changes that lie ahead for education. Now that the iPad has been announced, I can see it being a big part of these types of changes. The ebook possibilities are certainly exciting! I hope that it brings with it a new enthusiasm and love of reading.