Since March 2002, under the banner of the Horizon Project, the New Media Consortium has held an ongoing series of conversations and dialogs with hundreds of technology professionals, campus technologists, faculty leaders from colleges and universities, teachers and other school professionals, and representatives of leading corporations from more than two dozen countries. In the ensuing years, these conversations have resulted in the publication each January of a report focused on emerging technologies relevant to higher education. At the center of the process is an international advisory board whose role is ultimately to select the topics in the report, via a consensus-based process. As they work, the Advisory Board engages in lively dialogs around a wide range of articles, published and unpublished research, papers, scholarly blogs, and websites. The result of these dialogs is a list of the key technologies, trends, challenges, and issues that knowledgeable people in technology industries, higher education, and learning-focused organizations are thinking about.
In 2008, the NMC embarked on a new series of regional and sector-based companion editions of the Horizon Report, with the dual goals of understanding how technology is being absorbed using a smaller lens, and also noting the contrasts between technology use in one area compared to another. This report, the 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition, is the second in the series focusing on pre-college education. To date, companion editions have been prepared that center on Australia and New Zealand, on the K-12 sector, and on small- to medium-sized businesses. The flagship Horizon Report, focused on higher education, is translated into multiple languages every year. Over all editions, the readership of the reports is estimated at over 500,000 worldwide, with readers in more than 50 countries.
Like the university-focused effort from which it emerged, the K-12 project, referred to informally as Horizon.K12, uses qualitative research methods to identify the technologies selected for inclusion in the report, beginning with a survey of the work of other organizations, a close examination of topics previously detailed in the Horizon Report series, and a review of the literature with an eye toward spotting interesting emerging technologies. When a new cycle is started, little is known, or even can be known, about the appropriateness or efficacy of many of the emerging technologies for these purposes, as the Horizon Project expressly focuses on technologies not currently in widespread use in schools.
By engaging a wide community of interested parties, and diligently searching published research, the Internet, and other sources, enough information is gathered early in the process to allow the members of the Advisory Board to form an understanding of how each of the discovered technologies might be in use in settings outside of education, to develop a sense of the potential the technology may have for educational settings, and to envision applications of the technology for teaching, learning, and creativity. The findings are discussed in a variety of settings — with teachers, industry experts, technologists, and of course, the Horizon Advisory Board. Of particular interest to the Advisory Board every year is finding educational applications for these technologies that may not be intuitive or obvious.
The 42 members of this year’s K-12 Advisory Board were purposely chosen to represent a broad spectrum of K-12 education, as well as key writers and thinkers from business and industry. They engaged in a comprehensive review and analysis of research, articles, papers, blogs, and interviews; discussed existing applications, and brainstormed new ones; and ultimately ranked the items on the list of candidate technologies for their potential relevance to teaching, learning, and creative expression. This work took place entirely online and may be reviewed on the project wiki at http://k12.wiki.nmc.org.
The work does not stop there, however. In 2010, the Consortium for School Networking, in collaboration with HP, is preparing a K-12 toolkit to accompany the report, aimed at school and district leaders, board members, policymakers, teacher groups, and others. The toolkit, to be released under a Creative Commons license, will help these key groups maximize the impact of the report in their schools and help their constituencies gain an understanding of new applications of technology to support teaching and learning and successfully plan for their implementation.
Each Horizon Report is produced over a period of just a few months so that the information is timely and relevant. This year, the effort to produce the K-12 report began at the end of January 2010 and concluded when the report was released in early April 2010, a period of under three months. The six technologies and applications that emerged at the top of the final rankings — two per adoption horizon — are detailed in the chapters that follow.
Each of those chapters includes detailed descriptions, links to active demonstration projects, and a wide array of additional resources related to the six profiled technologies. Those profiles are the heart of the 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition, and will fuel the work of the Horizon Project throughout 2010-11. For those wanting to know more about the processes used to generate the Horizon Reports, many of which are ongoing and extend the work in the reports, we refer you to the report’s final section on the research methodology.