The Advisory Board annually identifies critical challenges facing learning organizations over the five-year time period covered by this report, drawing them from a careful analysis of current events, papers, articles, and similar sources. The challenges ranked as most likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, and creativity in the coming years appear below, in the order of importance assigned them by the Advisory Board.


  • There is a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy. The skills involved in writing and research have changed from those required even a few years ago. Students need to be technologically adept, to be able to collaborate with peers all over the world, to understand basic content and media design, and to understand the relationship be- tween apparent function and underlying code in the applications they use daily.
  • Students are different, but a lot of educational material is not. Schools are still using materials developed decades ago, but today’s students come to school with very different experiences than those of 20 or 30 years ago, and think and work very differently as well. Institutions need to adapt to current student needs and identify new learning models that are engaging to younger generations. Assessment, likewise, has not kept pace with new modes of working, and must change along with teaching methods, tools, and materials.
  • Significant shifts are taking place in the ways scholarship and research are conducted, and there is a need for innovation and leadership at all levels of the academy. A challenge cited as critical now for several years running, academic review and faculty rewards are out of sync with the practice of scholarship. Clear approaches to assessing emerging forms of scholarly practice are needed for tenure and promotion. Students who are living and learning with technologies that generate dynamic forms of content may find the current formalism and structure of scholarship and research to be static and “dead” as a way of collecting, analyzing and sharing results.
  • We are expected, especially in public education, to measure and prove through formal assessment that our students are learning. Data collection and mining of student information systems for such evidence is being considered as a component of accreditation, and institutions increasingly are expected to collect, manage, sort, and retrieve an expanding mountain of data related to not only learning, but the entire spectrum of their activities. Current systems are not capable of managing and interpreting real time information flows on the scale that is anticipated.
  • Higher education is facing a growing expectation to make use of and to deliver services, content, and media to mobile devices. This challenge is even more true today than it was when it first appeared in the Horizon Report two years ago. As new devices continue to make content almost as easy to access and view on a mobile as on a computer, and as ever more engaging applications take advantage of new interface technologies like accelerometers and multi-touch screens, the applications for mobiles continue to grow. This is more than merely an expectation to provide content: this is an opportunity for higher education to reach its constituents in new and compelling ways, in addition to the obvious anytime, anywhere benefits of these ubiquitous devices.

These trends and challenges are a reflection of the impact of new practices and technologies on our lives. They are indicative of the changing nature of the way we communicate, access information, and connect with peers and colleagues. Taken together, they provide a frame through which to consider the potential impacts of the six technologies and practices described in this edition of the Horizon Report.

Posted by NMC on January 18, 2009
Tags: Chapters

Total comments on this page: 6

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[...] I went and took a look at the full report and found two points in the Critical Challenges Section that was particularly interesting to me. [...]

January 23, 2009 5:11 pm
glen on paragraph 2:

Just as important for faculty and admin to be technologically adept. Using Word docs and email attachments doesn’t quite do it.

Also in-house, institutional IT needs to get up to speed on many of the new ways of using web based tech for learning. New slogan: “Don’t just say no!”

February 27, 2009 10:39 am

[...] about the Horizon Report, feel free to take a look at it. This post is a follow up about the Critical Challenges and Key Trends of the Horizon [...]

March 29, 2009 1:57 pm
Pete Gambell on whole page :

we should always be updated with current events specially in this very fast paced modern society.-`

View all of the most up to date short article on our web portal

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