The Horizon Reports identify and describe emerging technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on education around the globe. The recently-released K-12 report focuses on technologies that we can expect to become mainstream within the next few years and that have the potential to transform the processes of teaching, learning, and creative inquiry internationally.
It has been interesting to follow the development of the report over the last few months on the Horizon Report’s wiki where lively discussions between experts in both technology and education continue throughout the year. Dealing with a wide range of issues such as the impact of technology on wider society, changes in the future workplace, the abundance of resources and relationships available online, each of these topics is presented collaboratively. The results help to identify not only the opportunities for schools, but also some of the challenges that they need to be discussing and planning for today.
In the near-term (within a year), the report predicts that mobile devices and apps will continue to become more pervasive in the classroom as smartphones and tablets (not only iPads!) become more sophisticated and connectivity becomes increasingly ubiquitous. The report contains plenty of case-studies and links to research for those who wish to learn more.
The second set of predictions deals with the mid-term (two to three years) and describes the wider integration of game-based learning and the personal learning environments – using technology to move towards a more student-centred approach to both formal and informal learning. The Education department at World ORT are particularly interested in the inclusion of serious games as this is going to be more fully explored with a group of our own educators during the next Wingate Seminar entitled “Serious games and gamification of learning” later this year.
Perhaps the most exciting chapter of the report deals with the far-term horizon (four to five years ahead) where we can expect to see an increase in augmented reality – the layering of information over real world objects, settings, and processes – and the mainstream use of natural user interfaces that react to touch, movement, voice, and even facial expressions. Plenty of examples are provided for each of these, although not all from K-12 learning, but it seems that these technologies will be with us sooner than we may think.
Although sometimes criticised as over-optimistic, the message from the Horizon Report is clear that we need to spend more time familiarising ourselves with the opportunities that these developments can offer us. We need to prepare our educators to discover how best these innovations can serve their needs and the needs of their students and to invest time planning for change. Discussions about implementing new ideas will need to reach beyond the ‘tech-evangelists’ and our strategies for change will need to be inclusive and creative if they are to achieve a positive transformation in K-12 education.