The technologies featured in this edition of the Horizon Report are embedded within a contemporary context that reflects the realities of the time, both in the sphere of education and in the world at large. To assure this context was well understood, the Advisory Board engaged in an extensive review of current articles, interviews, papers, and new research to identify and rank trends that were currently affecting the practices of teaching, learning, and creative enquiry. Once detailed, the list of trends was then ranked according to how significant each was likely to be for learning-focused institutions in Australia and New Zealand over the next five years. The highest ranked of those trends had significant agreement among the Advisory Board members, who considered them to be key drivers of educational technology adoptions for the period 2010 through 2014. They are listed here in the order in which the Advisory Board ranked them.
- As the availability and use of electronic books continue to grow, the traditional publishing (and textbook) market is undergoing a profound and lasting change. As the music industry has already discovered, consumers appreciate the ability to purchase raw content formatted for devices of their choice. The content of books is becoming a commodity separate from the form of those books or the device used to access them. This shift is a dramatic one for an industry long accustomed to attaching value to the container and defining ownership in terms of possession of an object. Further, there is a growing expectation that the experience of reading electronic books will be more than simply viewing a digital version of a printed volume. Consumers are looking for interactive electronic content that is divorced from hardware, offered cheaply and conveniently, and provided in flexible and sharable formats.
- Social and open forms of peer review and scholarship are gradually gaining acceptance. As younger professors enter the ranks of academia and as new forms of online publishing slowly gain traction, long-established traditions such as peer review may come under closer examination. New technologies and approaches are emerging that may challenge certain elements of scholarship. Though not a new trend, this tendency may accelerate under the impetus of younger faculty and ready availability of alternatives to traditional scholarly processes.
- The availability of educational content for mobile devices is increasing as more providers develop for these platforms. As electronic books and readers move into the mainstream, it is natural that educational content providers will be offering more and more content aimed at these devices. These texts can easily contain a wealth of dynamic multimedia, and students can buy or rent entire textbooks or just chapters and selections as needed. Annotation features, now emerging on a wider range of platforms, will allow easy recording and sharing of notes and commentary. As the rate of change and growth of information accelerate, keeping paper-based resources up to date can become an ever more daunting task. Easily-updateable electronic content ameliorates this issue and provides a means to deliver richer, nonlinear materials to support study.
- Our notions of space and what constitutes learning environments continues to evolve. This trend, noted a year ago, still influences choices at all levels of the academy. It is now accepted that today’s classroom includes people, access to information, and experiences that take place outside the traditional four-walled setting where a class may happen to meet face to face. Nonetheless, institutions are not yet fully committed to supporting the tools that make this possible, though these are gaining traction on more campuses. Social networking tools, semantic applications, mobile devices, virtual worlds, and other emerging technologies for collaboration, communication, and learning are a vital part of the learning environment that will best serve students, and these must be as readily available as books, desks, and whiteboards.