NMC’s 2006 Horizon Report

I’d never heard of the New Media Consortium before, but they claim a mission to “advocate and stimulate the use of new learning and creative technologies in higher education.” Anyway, their 2006 Horizon Report identifies the following trends among those shaping the role of technology in education:

  • Dynamic knowledge creation and social computing tools and processes are becoming more widespread and accepted.
  • Mobile and personal technology is increasingly being viewed as a delivery platform for services of all kinds.
  • Consumers are increasingly expecting individualized services, tools, and experiences, and open access to media, knowledge, information, and learning.
  • Collaboration is increasingly seen as critical across the range of educational activities, including intra- and inter-institutional activities of any size or scope.

The above is largely a confirmation of the incredible growth in internet use/communications dependency that that we’ve seen in the past couple years, but they do follow it up with some more detail (and if you read the PDF, a few examples):

  • Social Computing. The application of computer technology to facilitate interaction and collaboration, a practice known as social computing, is happening all around us. Replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual collaboration tools, working on a daily basis with colleagues a thousand miles away, or attending a conference held entirely online is no longer unusual. An interesting aspect of social computing is the development of shared taxonomies — folksonomies — that emerge organically from like-minded groups.
  • Personal Broadcasting. With roots in text-based media (personal websites and blogs), personal broadcasting of audio and video material is a natural outgrowth of a popular trend made possible by increasingly more capable portable tools. From podcasting to video blogging (vlogging), personal broadcasting is already impacting campuses and museum audiences significantly.
  • The Phones in Their Pockets. A little further out on the horizon, but rapidly approaching, the delivery of educational content and services to cell phones is just around the corner. Among the keys that will unlock the true potential of this technology are improved network speeds, Flash Lite, and video: as new features that take advantage of the capabilities of these appear in phones, barriers to delivery of educational content will vanish.
  • Educational Gaming. A recent surge in interest in educational gaming has led to increased research into gaming and engagement theory, the effect of using games in practice, and the structure of cooperation in gameplay. The serious implications of gaming are still unfolding, but we are not far away from seeing what games can really teach us.
  • Augmented Reality and Enhanced Visualization. Currently in use in disciplines such as medicine, engineering, and archaeology, these technologies for bringing large data sets to life have the potential to literally change the way we see the world by creating three-dimensional representations of abstract data.
  • Context-Aware Environments and Devices. Advancements in context-aware computing are giving rise to devices and rooms that respond to voice, motion, or other subtle signals. In the ultimate application of these technologies, the “computing” part simply disappears, leaving an environment transparently responsive to its human occupants.