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2012 Horizon Report and Implications for Libraries

March 27, 2012
Every year since 2002, the New Media Consortium (NMC) works together with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative to release reports on the emerging technologies and their context in higher education, primary and secondary education, and museum education. NMC is an international community of experts in educational technology, and the advisory board included key writers, thinkers, technologists and futurists from education, business, and industry, and were chosen to represent a broad spectrum of the higher education sector.  The report has 3 sections, the first dealing with what is going on in higher education right now, the second lists out specific challenges that higher education is facing because of these technologies.  However, the bulk of the report consists of the technologies to watch. Six are identified, but they are broken out into Near-Term Horizon (within the next 12 months), Mid-Term Horizon (2-3 years out) and Far-term horizon (4-5 years out).
Near-term: Mobile apps and tablet computing
Most higher educational institutions are commissioning their own mobile apps, and classes are being offered on building these apps, from designing, developmentation of, and marketing of them. Tablet computing is also on the rise, from iPads and Galaxy Tabs to Nooks and Kindles. Their touchscreens, large displays, and portability make tablets ideal devices for one-on-one learning and even fieldwork. Many universities are already conducting in-depth studies with tablet programs to measure their outcomes.

Mid-term: Game-based learning and Learning Analytics

We have already seen examples of Game-based learning. Many of our colleagues across the state have been working to integrate games into information literacy learning. One notable example is Goblin Threat, a game centered on the theme of plagiarism, from Lycoming College. The report mentions several such games across this country and internationally. Learning analytics is about analyzing the wealth of student information in a way that would allow for schools to make informed “adjustments” to a student’s learning experience, but in a way that is more robust and nuanced than what we currently do. The report states that “the goal of learning analytics is to enable teachers and schools to tailor educational opportunities to each student’s level of need and ability in close-to-real time.”

Far-term: Gesture based computing and the “Internet of Things

Gesture-based computing consists of the way we touch and interact with our technology. Our mousepads and phone/tablet screens have the ability to track our touch, pressure, and number of fingers used. The report mentions several ways this technology is taken further, by using only subtle hand movements and arm gestures, sometimes even facial gestures, can be used in control devices. Voice recognition is to be a part of this as well.  The Internet of Things is part of the evolution of smart objects, which the line between the physical object and digital information is blurred. This is still more of a concept, not a reality as yet.

We urge you to read the full report, as it provides further reading on each of the technologies to watch, and let us know what you think.

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