Friday, May 21, 2010

The 2010 Horizon Report - emerging technologies in K - 12

The Horizon Report 2010 K - 12 Edition, a publication of the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), examines emerging technologies and their potential impact on, and use in, K - 12 teaching and learning. This years Horizon Report captures an international perspective and explores k - 12 issues that transcend boards, regional practices and policies, with a focus on how six emerging technologies or practices which are likely to help education and educators in the years to come.

The report's format outlines key trends, the critical challenges, and the technologies to watch, all within chapters which capture a "Time-to-Adoption Horizon" period of:
  • One Year or less

  • Two to Three Years

  • Four to Five Years
These adoption horizons are a means of attempting to indicate the likely time frame for the entrance of the emerging technology into "mainstream use for teaching, learning, or creative applications in the K -12 environment." And the chapters include detail descriptions of the technology, trends and challenges; links to active work going on among elementary, middle, and high schools around the world; and a wide range of resources related to the six profiled technologies.

The technologies to watch according to the Horizon Report are...

Cloud Computing and Collaborative Environments (One Year or Less):
On the near-term horizon are cloud computing and collaborative environments. And while the report fully acknowledges the presence and current use of these two technologies in education today, it also shows how the full potential of these two current technologies are well underutilized in education: basically, these technologies have by-in-large remained peripheral, allbeit heavily used, practices which need to be fully integrated before their extensive resources and power can be fully realized.

Game-Based Learning and Mobiles (Two to Three Years):
Game-based learning and mobiles are well-established technologies identified on the second adoption horizon which we will begin to see the widespread adoption of in institutional activities. While both technologies are an integral part of popular culture, and have been used as learning tools in a number of the more progressive schools, they have also been marginalized in many schools by outdated and restrictive policies which continue to treat any interactive or Web 2.0 technology as a possible distraction to learning.

Augmented Reality and Flexible Displays (Four to Five Years):
Augmented reality and flexible displays are technologies on the far-term horizon which have generated an large amount of interest, and users, and have also been the subject of a ton of research. Augmented reality (AR) has become something anyone can use, thanks to the convergence of three technologies — GPS, video, and pattern recognition, and flexible displays are seen as an important enabling technology, with the very real possibility of integrated interactive displays (flexible displays and touch-based interfaces) becoming part of many common educational objects and tools in the near future.

Each of these six key emerging technologies is discussed and described in detail in the report, with a specific section dedicated to each and outlining what the technology is and why it is relevant to teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. The report also makes an effort to ground / contextualize the discussions as much as possible through highlighting "innovative work going on among, elementary, middle, and high schools around the world".

The key trends which are seen as driving these emerging technologies are as follows:
  • "Technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives" - i.e. social networking, Web 2.0, mobile culture and everything connected to the wired life of students are as second-nature to them as TV and the land-line phone are to us. Students cannot think of socializing, working, interacting, learning, and living without these tools.

  • "Technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed" - almost an understatement, instead of affect, I would almost be tempted to say in many instances "drive" how we now work, learn, and play. And given the access to mobiles and use of computer technologies at public libraries by low-income America, this can now also be treated as an education issue as well as an "access" issue.

  • "The perceived value of innovation and creativity is increasing" - the working and living world which exists outside of schools is expecting a nimbleness and flexibility of mind and adaptation which current educational models are simply not addressing. And this is not just a question of how we need to redesign learning activities, it's a question of shifting paradigms and methodologies; designing new learning activities within the same old models will take us where we need to go.

  • "There is increasing interest in just-in-time, alternate, or non-formal avenues of education, such as online learning, mentoring, and independent study" - This is very tied into the previous point / trend of innovation and creativity, and while I do see this as a trend I don't think it's a positive one on its own, this needs to be connected and couched within the greater issue of changing models.

  • "The way we think of learning environments is changing" - Yup, the virtual space is a learning environment, has been for a while; this has been a key trend for quite a while now, in fact, I would argue that there's now a mainstream element to this.
Along with these current "key" trends, the Advisory Board also notes critical challenges which schools and educators now face. Not surprisingly they touch upon issues of professional development and digital literacy; need to change educational practice, policy, models, and the structure of our systems; and the need for educators and education to recognize the value of what is happening beyond the physical walls of the classroom and school.

Who is behind this report...the above six key emerging technologies or practices in this years report were identified by:
  • Knowledgeable stakeholders in the fields of business, industry, and education;

  • Published resources, current research, and practice; and

  • Advisory Board, made up of an international body of experts in education, technology, and other fields.
Along with the report it would be also worthwhile checking out the Horizon Project central site.