The technologies featured in each 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 perspective, each Advisory Board researches, identifies, and ranks key trends that are currently affecting the practice of teaching, learning, and creativity, and uses these as a lens for its later work. These trends are surfaced through an extensive review of current articles, interviews, papers, and new research. Once identified, the list of trends is ranked according to how significant an impact they are likely to have on education in the next five years. The following five trends have been identified as key drivers of technology adoptions for the period 2010 through 2015; they are listed here in the order they were ranked by the Advisory Board.
- Technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives. Technology is impacting all of our lives, and especially the lives of students, in new and expanding ways. Once seen as an isolating influence, technology is now recognized as a primary way to stay in touch and take control of one’s own learning. Multisensory, ubiquitous, and interdisciplinary, technology is integrated into nearly everything we do. It gives students a public voice and a means to reach beyond the classroom for interaction and exploration.
- Technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed. Information technologies impact how people work, play, learn, socialize, and collaborate. Increasingly, technology skills are also critical to success in almost every arena, and those who are more facile with technology will advance while those without access or skills will not. The digital divide, once seen as a factor of wealth, is now seen as a factor of education: those who have the opportunity to learn technology skills are in a better position to obtain and make use of technology than those who do not. Evolving occupations, multiple careers, and an increasingly mobile workforce contribute to this trend.
- The perceived value of innovation and creativity is increasing. Innovation is valued at the highest levels of business and must be embraced in schools if students are to succeed beyond their formal education. The ways we design learning experiences must reflect the growing importance of innovation and creativity as professional skills. Innovation and creativity must not be linked only to arts subjects, either; these skills are equally important in scientific inquiry, entrepreneurship, and other areas as well.
- There is increasing interest in just-in-time, alternate, or non-formal avenues of education, such as online learning, mentoring, and independent study. More and more, the notion of the school as the seat of educational practice is changing as learners avail themselves of learning opportunities from other sources. There is a tremendous opportunity for schools to work hand-in-hand with alternate sources, to examine traditional approaches, and to reevaluate the content and experiences they are able to offer.
- The way we think of learning environments is changing. Traditionally, a learning environment has been a physical space, but the idea of what constitutes a learning environment is changing. The “spaces” where students learn are becoming more community-driven, interdisciplinary, and supported by technologies that engage virtual communication and collaboration. This changing concept of the learning environment has clear implications for schools.