Since the launch of the Horizon Project in March 2002, the NMC has held an ongoing series of conversations and dialogs with hundreds of technology professionals, campus technologists, faculty leaders from colleges and universities, and representatives of leading corporations. Each year, an Advisory Board considers the results of these dialogs and also looks at a wide range of articles, published and unpublished research, papers, scholarly blogs, and websites to generate a list of technologies and practices, trends, challenges, and issues that knowledgeable people in technology industries, higher education, and museums are thinking about.
The project uses qualitative research methods to identify the technologies selected for inclusion in each annual report, beginning with a survey of the work of other organizations and a review of the literature with an eye to spotting interesting emerging technologies. When the cycle starts, 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 academe. In a typical year, 75 or more of these technologies may be identified for further investigation; for the 2009 report, more than 80 were considered.
By engaging a wide community of interested parties, and diligently searching 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 academe, to develop a sense of the potential the technology may have for higher education settings, and to envision applications of the technology for teaching, learning, research, and creative expression. The findings are discussed in a variety of settings — with faculty, industry experts, campus 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.
To create the Horizon Report, the Advisory Board engages in a comprehensive review and analysis of research, articles, papers, blogs, and interviews; discusses existing applications and brainstorms new ones; and ultimately ranks the items on the list of candidate technologies for their potential relevance to the focus areas of teaching, learning, research and creative expression. Each year, once the report is published, the NMC encourages the faculty and staff at the hundreds of colleges and universities who make use of the report to take part in a starburst of follow-on activities. Among these is the annual Call to Scholarship, an effort to define a research agenda and call to scholarship based on the six practices and technologies featured in that edition. With the publication of the report each year the community is invited to participate in this process, contribute to the discussion, and help shape directions for future research in these topics across higher education.
Increasingly the Horizon Project is a global effort. Each year at least a third of the members of the advisory board represent countries outside of North America. Beginning in 2007, with the aid of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, the Horizon Report was translated into Spanish and Catalan. In 2008, the Horizon Project expanded with the publication of its first-ever regional report, the 2008 Horizon Report: Australia-New Zealand Edition. Future regional editions are planned as well, and 2009 promises to see the Horizon Report translated into Chinese and other major languages. Sector-based editions are planned as well, with the first of these being the K-12 edition planned for release in March 2009.
Each Horizon Report is produced over a very short period so that the information is timely and relevant. This year, research and production spanned just over four months, from September 2008 to January 2009. The six technologies and applications that emerged at the top of the final rankings — two per adoption horizon — are detailed in the sections that follow. The research aspects of the project, many of which are ongoing and build on the work in the Report, are described in the section on methodology which follows the descriptions of the six emerging technologies that are profiled in this year’s report.
Posted by NMC on January 18, 2009