All editions of the Horizon Report series are produced via a carefully constructed qualitative research process that draws on the input of a diverse group of people representing a range of backgrounds, nationalities, and interests. This group, known as the Horizon Project Advisory Board, is reconstituted annually and with each new edition, with at least one third of the group being new to the process each year to ensure a fresh perspective. To date, more than five hundred internationally recognized practitioners and experts have participated in the Horizon Project as a member of an Horizon Project Advisory Board.
With each new edition, the board begins by examining a broad range of primary and secondary references, trend reports, and technological innovations, along with the challenges they pose on college and university campuses. Starting with a broad overview, the board moves systematically toward a final list by examining each technology, trend, and challenge in increasing detail using a modified Delphi process. Using an extensive archive of materials, the board members comment on, and add to, the materials, focusing specifically on higher education and the potential relevance of varying technologies for teaching, learning, or creative inquiry. Conversations emerge within the wiki as participants annotate the materials. RSS feeds from dozens of relevant publications continue to supply up-to-the-minute updates, and ensures that background resources stay current as the project progresses.
Following the review of the literature, each Advisory Board member engages in the heart of the project by answering the research questions that are at the core of the Horizon Project. These questions are tailored to the focus of each edition and are designed to elicit a comprehensive listing of interesting technologies, challenges, and trends from the Advisory Board:
- What would you list among the established technologies that some educational institutions are using today that arguably all institutions should be using broadly to support or enhance teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?
- What technologies that have a solid user base in consumer, entertainment, or other industries should educational institutions be actively looking for ways to apply?
- What are the key emerging technologies you see developing to the point that learningfocused institutions should begin to take notice during the next four to five years?
Each board member answers these questions systematically, making sure to engage the full range of relevant topics. The Horizon Report process then moves to a fast-paced ranking period that uses an iterative Delphi-based methodology to discern consensus. In the first step, the responses to the research questions are systematically ranked and placed into adoption horizons by each Advisory Board member using a multi-vote system that allows members to weight their selections. Each member is asked to also identify the timeframe during which they feel the technology would enter mainstream use — defined for the purpose of the project as about 20% of institutions adopting it within the period discussed. (The 20% figure is based on the research of Geoffrey A. Moore and refers to the critical mass of adoptions needed for a technology to have a chance of entering broad use.) These rankings are compiled into a collective set of responses, and inevitably, the ones around which there is the most agreement are quickly apparent.
The first round of voting reveals the twelve highestranked technologies — four per adoption horizon. These twelve are further researched and expanded, with attention to the ways in which the technologies might be used in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. Significant attention is paid to this research, examining not only existing applications for each area, but also potential uses in the near future. For every edition, when that work is done, each of these twelve topics is then written up in the format of the Horizon Report, in an interim document referred to as the “short list.” With the benefit of the full picture of how each topic will look in the report, the twelve items on the “short list” is then ranked yet again, this time in reverse. The six technologies and applications that emerge are those detailed in the Horizon Report.