Saturday, June 1, 2013

What's on the horizon?

Every year I'm always excited to read the K-12 edition of the NMC Horizon Project where various new technologies are discussed along with the timeline for them to become mainstream.  This year, however, it's quite a shock:  all the "new" technologies listed are those that ASB has already started adopting!

The first set of technologies are those that are on the "near horizon" with an adoption timeline of one year or less.  These include BYOD, cloud computing, mobile learning and online learning.   In the case of BYOD, the reports states that "the act of a student using his or her own device for learning has proven to increase productivity and engagement".  Other benefits listed for their impact on teaching, learning, research and creativity are as follows:

  • Students use the same device at school and at home - this extends learning opportunities to times and places outside the classroom
  • BYOD allows students to use technologies with which they are already familiar
  • BYOD is seen as cost effective when compared with school provided devices
ASB has been BYOD with laptops for all students from Grade 6 upwards this year, with BYOD options for Grades 4 and 5.  Next year we are transitioning into all students from Grade 4 upwards bringing their own laptops.  Members of the ASB Tech Department will be presenting on BYOD in 4 Easy Steps at ISTE later this month.

Another technology on the near horizon mentioned by the Horizon Project is cloud computing.  Among the advantages of this for teaching and learning are the following:
  • Cloud resources are often free and simple to use - tools, media and educational materials are more accessible than ever before
  • Access to documents and applications online means that students and teachers can create and edit their work or review information whenever or wherever they want
Mobile learning is another technology with an adoption timeline of a year of less.  At ASB we already prototyped students bringing their own mobile devices in November last year in a Grade 4 homeroom and in 8th Grade maths and 10th Grade algebra.  Students used these in addition to their laptops.  Following the successes of these prototypes the R&D team recommended that students be permitted to access our network using their mobile devices, and that more prototypes be carried out for teachers and teaching assistants for the whole of next school year as we study how mobile devices can further improve learning at ASB.

The Horizon report highlights the relevance of mobile learning for education:
  • Schools wanting to go 1:1 might find mobile learning an economic and flexible alternative to laptops
  • Mobile apps allow students to share questions and findings with each other in real time, for example to exchange notes, videos and so on.
  • Students can use the inbuilt microphones, cameras and other tools.  This is very useful for work done outside of the classroom (for example on field trips), and we have also found it useful for students to use to capture their work for adding to their ePortofolios.
Online learning is the final technology that the Horizon Reports mentions as being on the near horizon. Once again ASB has already made massive advances in this in recent years.  For example we already have the position of Online Learning Coordinator at school, and ASB has its own Online Academy for students, teachers and parents - and also for those outside of the ASB community.  This year I've accessed the OA to do a photography course, various courses on apps for education and a course about the creation of rigorous multimedia products.  Online learning also supports ASB's drive towards personalized learning.  Other advantages highlighted by the Horizon Project include:
  • the creative use of educational technologies and emerging instructional approaches, including blended learning, video lectures and badges
  • the ease of accessibility supports self-directed learning
In the coming week I will be looking at the trends on the middle (2-3 years) and far (4-5 years) as well as the significant challenges.  In the case of technologies on the near horizon, however, at ASB the future is now.

Photo taken at Dadar Chowpatty, showing the Sealink between Bandra and Worli in Mumbai


  1. I was under the impression that cloud computing would never take off? That what the 'experts' have told us :-)

    1. Just goes to show how wrong some people can be Dave. Thankfully I'm in a better place now, and you will be soon too.