18 Mar 2013

2013 Horizon Report

The latest edition of the Horizon report was unleashed on the wider public last month which, as every year, represents a forecast about technological developments that are likely to mainstream in teaching, learning and research within the context of higher education.

This year, six trends were prioritised according to three distinct time-do-adoption horizons that cover a total of five years. The report introduces each topic by definition including its particular relevance in teaching and learning. This is followed by a brief discussion (which very much represents the most beneficial aspect of the report) and specific examples, i.e. how the particular technology is already used. An annotated list of suggested readings concludes each area.

Time-to-adoption horizon: One Year or Less 
Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCS)
Over the past year, MOOCS have gained massive traction in terms of public awareness. They’re free of charge and generally of high quality reaching thousands of learners who engage with them in a suspended time- and space continuum. The crux here is that the MOOCS model combines and leverages a mix of pedagogies and learning tools through blended learning, open education resources and crowd sourced interaction. Presently, Coursera, edX and Udacity are the main operators out there.

Tablet Computing
Tablets are distinct from smartphones, e-readers or tablet PCs. They are intuitive in their functionality and lend themselves quite well to teaching and learning environments due to their portability and variability. Check out "How a classroom of IPads Changed My Approach to Learning".

Time-to-adoption horizon: Two to Three Years
Games and Gamification
Recreational interactive games have proven themselves to increase critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork. The same skills are required in the education setting. A working example would be the game "10 Downing Street", which simulates economic policy making. A library example would be the HML-IQ Library Orientation Game.

Learning Analytics
The idea here is to tap into large student-related data sets (e.g. derived from student information systems and course management systems via sophisticated tracking tools) in order to build better pedagogies, target at-risk student populations and provide more personalised learning experiences. An example here would be the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon.

Time-to-adoption horizon: Four to Five Years
3D Printing
This refers to the creation of physical objects from three-dimensional digital content (e.g. compute aided tomography (CAT), computer-aided design (CAD) and X-ray crystallography). Its potential rests in "a more authentic exploration of objects that may not be readily available to universities" (Horizon Report, 2013: 29). An example would be the field of Architecture and Design.

Wearable Technology
This represents devices that "integrate naturally" with its carrier (person). Google's Project Glass would be a well-publicised example. Another interesting example is the Robotic Suit that supports its wearer when carrying out physically demanding tasks.

Make sure to check out the Horizon Project Navigator; the site refers to a variety of specific projects and examples that exploit emerging technologies.

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