On the Horizon

These are my liveblogged notes from Alan Levine,  Rachel Smith, and Cyprien Lomas’  webinar “What’s On Your Horizon?” about the 2009 Horizon Report. This webinar is part of the preview for the TCC 2009 conference. My comments are in italics. Please forgive any typos or awkward phrases; those are mine, not Alan’s, Rachel’s or anyone else’s.

Overview of the Horizon Report from Rachel Smith of NMC. Main focus has been higher ed, but they now do some specific reports: one for Australia/NZ, one for K-12.

Horizon project wiki has resources and shows the process. The goal of the Horizon Project is to look not just at when technology is viable, but when we’ll have about 20% adoption rates.


  • October: open up to the advisory board. Raw data. More than a list; descriptions, links. What time horizon, what’s important.
  • Vote for 12 (4 in each time horizon)
  • Short list goes to advisory board for “survivor voting” in late November
  • Down to 2 for each time horizon
  • Writers polish the raw materials
  • Distributed with a CC-license

Rachel Smith:  “The report isn’t really about predicting…it’s just a look at what is important at that moment.”

“Horizon Game”

What technology do you see used in some places that most organizations will use less than a year from now?

brainstorming: lots of wikis, blogs, social networking, audio/podcasts.

Also listed: virtual worlds, videoconferencing, voicethreads, geotagging, cell phones, flip cameras, digital storytelling, portfolios, multimedia

Other research questions:

  • What technologies are used in other industries and have a solid user base there that learning institutions should be looking at (2-3 years out)?
  • What emerging/experimental technologies should learning institutions to take notice of in 4-5 years?

Horizon Report

Trends and Challenges facing education


  • Increasing Globalization
  • Collective Intelligence, Ambiguity, Imprecision: With collective intelligence, multiple right answers are possible
  • Games as Learning Tools: Kids have always used games, but school hasn’t recognized play for learning
  • Visualization: Tools make it easier to understand information and relationships between concepts. Look at financial tools like Mint or Wesabe that make it easy to visualize your spending trends.
  • Mobile phones: Fast growth & innovation.

Good points in the chat:

Taylor Willingham [Texas]: More people have access to mobile phones than running water. (from SXSW interactive)

Catherine Green [AIR – Sacramento, CA]: Visualization tools could help move us toward more universal design for learning (UDL), assistive technology, supporting diff. learning preferences, LDs, etc.

Critical Challenges

  • So much information
  • Gaps between how content is used in school and how it’s used in the real world
  • Scholarship and research: how can academic systems reward people doing research in these areas?
  • Meaningful assessment & use of data
  • More expectation for higher ed to deliver to mobile devices

One Year or Less

Cyprien Lomas presenting on Mobiles.

  • If you look at a group of young people, almost all of them will have a phone. Phones are becoming much cheaper too.
  • Phone companies are pushing new features like watching TV.
  • If everyone has them, how can we get students to use them?
  • Phones with cameras can start to identify places in them
  • People need training to learn how to interact with everything on their phones when everything is immediately accessible
  • Payment systems for SMS are different in different countries–much more expensive in Canada

Rachel Smith on Cloud Computing

  • Companies have lots of computers and shift the load among all the computers
  • Easy to lease space from others if you can develop an application
  • Flickr isn’t on a single group of computers
  • Useful for education b/c applications that are comparable to installed software (like Google Docs)

Two to Three Years

Cyprien on “Geo-Everything

  • Like visiting a city after reading a novel set there and reliving the content by visiting the physical locations
  • Bring geotagged resources into your classroom
  • Effects on research
  • Example: sending students out with cameras and sharing geotagged images, mashup images with Google Maps
  • Less Serious Example on the iPhone: Urban Spoon that suggests restaurants based on where you are. What could you do for lessons if the content is based on where the student is?

Alan on “The Personal Web

  • The web used to be handed to you and you just looked at it that way. Now you can take it and look at it differently and remix it. We can personalize it to what’s important to us.
  • Includes things that make publishing easy (YouTube, Flickr)
  • Collaboration authoring tools (Google Docs, Flat World Knowledge)
  • Tagging tools
  • Pageflakes or Netvibes for project resource pages
  • Blogs for specific institutions
  • Personal Learning Environments/Personal Learning Networks

Four to Five Years

Rachel on Semantic Aware Applications

  • A search for “turkey” right now returns the country, bird, name calling. Semantic web would know which one you want.
  • Help people solve big problems by helping make connections
  • Easy to figure out that people are connected based on trails on the web
  • Right now, there’s a manual process of tagging or have software tag it (still cumbersome)
  • Applications that can detect it automatically would be best
  • Current applications deal with searching and asking questions (like “how many world leaders are over the age of 60?). Still in development.
  • A few applications emerging: TripIt lets you forward a confirmation email for travel and gives you a plain language itinerary with maps, tickets, local weather, etc. Combines all the info from your travel sources into one place and gives you the important parts.

Alan on Smart Objects

  • Any object that has a unique id
  • Can communicate with other objects
  • RFID, QR
  • A tire that can recognize when there’s a fault so you can replace it before it goes flat
  • Siftables:  http://siftables.com/
  • HazMat suits that report the conditions experienced
  • Open source audio hardware http://www.buglabs.net/

Comparing Horizons

  • Australia differs b/c mobile is fairly prevalent already, so next-gen mobile is a long-term trend
  • Cloud computing is 2-3 years for K-12, not less than 1
  • Mobiles are 2-3 years for K-12, not less than 1
  • K-12 is just generally behind a year or two from higher ed
  • Think about doing a mini-Horizon report at your own campus/institution. I wonder what would come up with if we did this with PLS. Such a wide range of facilitators–it would be good to see what they think is important. Doing this kind of process would probably get different results than a simple survey. Maybe discussions in the Facilitator Zone?

Report has been translated to Spanish, Catalan, Japanese, Chinese; would like more

How to Participate:


Q: From a self-described Luddite: What’s the unique pedagogical value of these tools? We’re like kids in a toy store that want one of everything.
A: True that not every technology should be used in every situation. Horizon Report isn’t trying to promote technology, but trying to help people understand without having to do the research by themselves. If technology doesn’t have a good tie to education, it’s whittled out of the process. Helps make people aware of what’s out there.

Image credit:

Is it just me, or is the horizon curved? by Not Quite a Photographr

3 thoughts on “On the Horizon

  1. Yeah, I disagree with the idea of mobile learning being at 20% within a year–unless they are also counting podcasts within the umbrella of mobile learning. If it’s the two together, then it might be there. The phone technology is there, but the development tools for nonprogrammers doesn’t seem to have caught up yet. They’re also mostly looking at a more traditional college audience of 20-somethings, rather than our older audience, and that makes a difference. But maybe they really are seeing more colleges use mobile learning.

    I had seen the TED talks video on siftables, and I definitely see educational possibilities there. It’s a ways off, but it’s very cool.

    I’m not sure for a major takeaway. Two years ago the Horizon report had more new information to me; now it seems like reading blogs and everything gives me a decent pulse on these trends already. It was interesting to see the process of how they write it though. I do wonder if something like that process would get our facilitators looking at and talking about trends in education & new tools.

  2. Hey there! What was your major takeaway from the webinar? I’m still slightly perplexed as to why mobiles are on the first horizon. I can see how they might evolve into something more productive but the technology isn’t there yet. I think it goes to how each institution actually defines mlearning, I guess. Did you get a chance to watch the video at siftables.com? You’ll get a kick out of it!

    By the way, I now have a new blog. Yes, I know. Check it out anyway? aprilhayman.wordpress.com

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