Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's on the horizon for higher education?

In past years I've avidly awaited the K-12 NMC Horizon Report, but this year I've also been excited by the recent publication of the Higher Education edition of this report.  Being at a school that is cutting edge and forward looking means that many of the trends identified in this report will be seen in my school, even before they become mainstream in universities.  The ASB R&D Core Team is already investigating several of the trends that, according to the report, will be adopted by universities over the next 5 years.  The Horizon Report identifies three time frames for adoption:  the next 12 months, the next 2-3 years and the next 4-5 years.

The Near Horizon
The two technologies to watch in the next 12 months have been identified as MOOCs and tablet computing.
  • MOOCs (massively open online courses) are already being offered and hundreds of thousands of students are enrolled in them.  ASB has also started its own OOCs (I took out the M simply because our numbers are in the hundreds, not in the hundreds of thousands at this point) in CyberSecurity and in searching for and using information.  The first of these is already underway, the second will be starting in April and I'm excited to be one of the designers and facilitators of these courses.  The great thing about MOOCs to me is that they are offered at zero cost and yet offer the chance of lifelong learning so that the participants can acquire new knowledge and skills and perhaps become more employable.
  • Tablet computing - the use of portable devices with mobile apps, is also under consideration by ASB's R&D team.  We have prototyped the use of these as secondary devices (our primary device will remain a laptop) in all divisions of the school.
The Mid Horizon
The Horizon report identifies 2 more trends that will become widely adopted in the next 2-3 years.  Once again ASB is already ahead of the game as we are actively involved in both gamification and in learning analytics.
  • We have an R&D team studying gamification and how incorporating elements of games into teaching can impact student learning.  These elements involve challenges to move up to different levels and allow students a great deal of choice about how they learn.
  • Learning analytics is also part of our everyday programme.  We recently trained teachers in the DataWise model and in my division of the school grade levels teams meet with instructional coaches to analyze data about how their students are performing.  This allows us to personalize learning - one of our schools goals for this year.
The Far Horizon
Two trends are identified for adoption in the next 4-5 years:  3D printing and wearable technology.
  • Over the past few days I've seen that we already have a 3D printer at school, though as yet I'm waiting to see how it will be used.  The Horizon Reports predicts that these will be increasingly used in the arts, design, manufacturing and sciences to create 3D models.
  • Wearable technology - I was hoping to see an example of the Google "Project Glass" goggles at the recent Google India Summit that we hosted at school, but alas I'm still waiting to actually get my hands on a pair of these.  These are augmented reality enabled glasses that operate via voice command, presenting the wearer with a layer of information about their surroundings.
Since ASB has already transitioned into many of the above trends I'm now curious to find out what has been identified as trends for K-12 education (though I'll have to wait a few more weeks for the publication of that report).  What I'm asking myself, however, is this:  if ASB is already implementing many of the "new" trends identified for Higher Education, even those that are identified as being 4-5 years away, will the trends identified for the next 5 years for schools be those that are already mainstream here?

Photo Credit: Zach Dischner via Compfight cc

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