Emergence: Tech Trends from 2011 Horizon Report

Trends are important to any industry, but especially so within the eLearning and mLearning industry: understanding not only how individuals currently interact with content, but how they will (probably) interact with it allows us to provide excellent, viable, and lasting products, solutions, and content for our clients. Thus, the Horizon Report is an interesting source of distilled information about technology itself.

The Horizon Report “is part of the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project, a comprehensive research venture established in 2002 that identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years on a variety of sectors around the globe.” The New Media Consortium is “an international community of experts in educational technology – from the practitioners who work with new technologies on campuses everyday; to the visionaries who are shaping the future of learning at think tanks, labs, and research centers; to its staff and board of directors; to the advisory boards and others helping the NMC conduct cutting edge research.”

Declared in their Executive Summary, The 2011 Horizon Report “examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. It is the eighth in the annual series of reports focused on emerging technology in the higher education environment.”

Below is a brief highlight of the Horizon Report’s findings on emerging eLearning technology. How will these trends affect the way you create, provide, and/or service eLearning and mLearning content to your learners in the near future?

  • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching, and credentialing.

    Given the explosion of technology in the last few years, it is no surprise that mobile devices made a big impact here, allowing individuals more ease-of-access and availability of needed resources. These resources include, “open content, and a variety of reference and [electronic] textbooks.” The Horizon Report suggests that it would be very good idea for educators, trainers, and other content creators to keep this trend in mind, in order to best serve mobile learners.

  • People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want.

    In addition to increased access with mobile devices, individual expectation of availability has increased as well. If content, apps, or Internet is not readily available, “feelings of frustration are common”. The
    Horizon Report cites Google’s Fiber for Communities and WiFi access on airlines as a response in support of this trend.

  • The world of work is increasingly collaborative, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured.

    The basic gist of this emerging trend suggests that, since we professionals are motivated to extensively collaborate in order to expedite efficiency, perhaps the way we provide instruction should also reflect this group-effort. Some follow-on thoughts towards this end might be the inclusion of social media aspects and other collaborative elements within structured eLearning.

  • The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.

    Ah, the cloud…how many times it has turned up in recent years. Mobile devices continue to get bigger and badder, from a computing resource point-of-view, but the need to be connected to vast stores of data also increases, despite the smaller and more compact sizes.

    Enter the cloud: allowing mobile devices the decentralized data access needed (…especially needed to support the trends aforementioned). The Horizon Report acknowledged that “challenges of privacy and control continue to affect adoption and deployment” to cloud-based services, but that, given the immediacy of mobile content, “it makes sense to move data and services into the cloud.”

For more information, you may also download The 2011 Horizon Report in either PDF or ePub format.

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