Saturday, January 16, 2010

Horizon Report Notes Key Changing Trends in Education

For the past eight years, the New Media Consortium's Horizon Project has been using research to report annually on the changing landscape of education via the increasing integration of technology.  Here are four key trends noted in the 2010 report that will likely drive education change, especially the way learning and instruction is delivered, over the course of the next five years:
  • 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.
  • People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
  • The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.
  • The work of students is increasingly seen as collaborative by nature, and there is more crosscampus collaboration between departments.
The Report notes one critical challenge that will continue to emphasize a more expanded role for technology in the classroom:

Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.

Students will require an ever-increasing amount of digital literacy as they graduate from high school and college.  This infers that instructional staff and school administrators will need to stay on top of the ever-changing digital landscape to ensure our schools remain relevant.

The Report details a number of technologies that are likely to have a growing impact on education:
The immediate concern will be expansion of mobile computing and greater use of open content curriculum, instructional materials, and resources.  As noted in the 2010 report:

Users increasingly expect anytime, anywhere access to data and services that not very long ago were available only while sitting in front of a computer linked to the network via a cable. In addition to the typical software for email, communication, and calendaring, new tools allow users to manage personal information (such as Evernote, Nozbe, Wesabe, and TripIt), collaborate and easily access and share files (Dropbox and CalenGoo are two of many possible examples), or keep abreast of social networks (Limbo, Facebook, Foursquare, Whrrl), and generally make checking and updating work, school, or personal information flows something easily done on the fly. 

Open content has now come to the point that it is rapidly driving change in both the materials we use and the process of education. At its core, the notion of open content is to take advantage of the Internet as a global dissemination platform for collective knowledge and wisdom, and to design learning experiences that maximize the use of it.

Of course, the challenge for the educational community will be staying abreast of these and other technology changes as they occur by shaking the past practice of being late adopters.  Structural changes to budgets, calendars, schedules, staffing, and other resources must be aligned to support these changes.

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