Wondering what cool new technologies are on the Horizon?

Well then look no further than the Horizon Report!

Published each year as a joint publication  of the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), the Horizon Report seeks to identify the six technologies that have the greatest potential to impact education over the next five years.  The report is broken down into three technology horizons: Near-term (within the next year), Middle (within 2-3 years), and Far-term (within 4-5 years).  Two technologies that have the potential to change the way we are currently teaching, learning and researching are identified for each of these horizons.

Of the over 110 technologies that were considered as part of this year’s Horizon report review process, only six made the publication.  SO what do they think is on the horizon for us?

Within the next year: The Near-Term

The Horizon report has identified Mobile computing and Open Content as two technology trends that are likely to have an impact in the coming year.  While both of these technologies are not new to education, it is predicted that they will become part of the mainstream educational technology culture altering the way we approach common tasks.

Mobile Computing

For the fourth year in a row, Mobile computing has made it to the Horizon Report.  What is so hot about mobile computing that keeps landing it here?  With the explosion of the mobile device market, and the broad accessibility of broadband connectivity, mobile computing is more powerful and popular than ever! Instructors from every discipline are finding ways to harness the mobile computing power of their students.  Instructors are constructing activities that take advantage of the affordances of mobile technologies such using tablet PCs to gather data in the field or using an iPhone app to poll students in a class.

Sites to note:

Hotseat at Purdue University – According to the HotSeat website “Hotseat, a social networking-powered mobile Web application, creates a collaborative classroom, allowing students to provide near real-time feedback during class and enabling professors to adjust the course content and improve the learning experience. Students can post messages to Hotseat using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, sending text messages, or logging in to the Hotseat Web site.”

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Mobile Computing – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+mobile

Open Content

Pioneered by educational institutions such as MIT and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open content is a radical shift in the way educational institutions are choosing to view content.  According to the Horizon Report (p 13) “The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way academics in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed in their courses.”

Sites to note:

DnaTube – YouTube for the sciences, DNATube hosts a collection of videos focused on basic and applied sciences.

Twine – See how your interests intertwine with information on the Web.

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Open Content – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+opened

Within the next 2-3 years: What’s just around the corner?

Electronic Books and Augmented Reality are not new in the commercial sector, but they are now just starting to make their way into education.

Electronic Books

Electronic text books often offer a cheaper (and lighter) alternative to  the traditional textbook.  As ebook and ebook reader technologies become more sophisticated, more students are choosing to access their classroom materials electronically. eReaders also have the advantage of being able to store many books and papers in a light form factor that is no bigger then you average spiral bound notebook!

Sites to note:

Sophie – Sophie is an open source tool, by USC  School of Cinematic Arts, for creating and reading rich media documents.

7 Things You Need To Know About Sony Readers in a Higher Ed Environment – White Paper from Penn State on the 7 Things you need to know about e-readers in the classroom

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Electronic Books – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+ebooks

Simple Augmented Reality

We have all heard of virtual reality, but what is augmented reality?  Augmented reality uses portable devices such as a smart phone, PDA, or Laptop to overlay virtual information on the real world.  Augmented reality uses on campuses have ranged from augmented campus tours where a visitor uses their smart phone to access additional information about the campus to location sensitive training simulations that lead students through a scenario.  While most augmented reality applications fall into the personal entertainment and marketing sector, it is likely that more will be developed for the education sector in the coming years bringing augmented reality into the classroom.

Sites to note:

ARIS Mobile Media Learning Games – A project out of the University of Wisconsin ARIS,  Mobile Media Learning Experiences, is a platform for the development of educational mobile augmented reality games.

Augmented Reality Games @ MIT – The outdoor AR toolkit is available free of charge to those interested in making educational AR games for mobile devices.  This program is simple to use and fairly easy to learn.

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Simple Augmented Reality – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+augmentedreality

Within the next 4-5 years: The Far-Term

Gesture Based Computing

If you’re like many of the people in our office the first thing you thought of when you read gesture base computing was the Nintendo Wii or the touch wall from Minority Report.  Gesture based interfaces allow us to interact in an intuitive manner with computer systems using natural movements.  While both of these examples are pretty far off from the classroom of today, there are several gesture based interfaces that promise to make a difference in education such as the Microsoft Surface.

Sites to note:

Siftables: The future of play.  A gesture based play platform that has the potential for educational impact.

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Gesture-Based Computing – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+altinput

Visual Data Analysis

Data analysis is at the heart of many science and engineering fields, and so it is a topic of great interest here at WPI.  Visual data analysis is a field that uses modeling techniques to represent large data sets visually allowing the user or users to search for patterns and structures within the data.  Many visual data analysis tools are also on the horizon that will aid users in their data mining process.

Sites to note:

ManyEyes – A multi-user visualization tool

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Visual Data Analysis – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+analytics

What do you think is on the Horizon?  Do you agree of disagree with the Horizon Report choices?  Let us know by leaving a comment!


2010 Horizon Report Johnson, Laurence F., Levine, Alan, Smith, Rachel S. and Stone, Sonja. 2010 Horizon Report. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium, 2010.