The Horizon report from New Media Consortium (http://www.nmc.org/nmc-horizon/) for K-12 schools for 2015 has recently been released, the full report will be released in the (Northern Hemisphere) summer.
The report identifies key trends for K-12 education and highlights some challenges these trends will lead to. In the first section it looks at those trends which are accelerating tech adoption in schools:
- Schools need to be more flexible and adaptable in response to changing culture and economic demands.
- The subject-based approach of secondary schools is outdated and conflicts with trend towards the use of multidisciplinary teams in problem solving.
- Students need to be exposed to project-based, problem-based and other student-centred active learning approaches. By solving problems students should learn how to apply not just absorb knowledge.
- The new approaches also require re-designed learning spaces – basically chairs and desks just get in the way.
- Big data – the use of data collected by systens that enable teachers to get a better, more accurate picture of the progress and hence the need of individual learners.
For keen observers of the educational technology scene over the last 10-20 years, these aims may not be particularly new. However, the issue has long been how can school structure and culture be adapted – given that there is widespread resistance to change and an apparent reluctance of politicians to invest political and actual capital in this area. The report goes on to deal with “solvable challenges: Those we both understand and know how to solve”.
- Creating authentic learning opportunities
- Integrating technology into teacher education
- Student internet and data safety
Interestingly, the need for ongoing teacher education does not get a mention here or in the next section on difficult challenges, some of those are seen as:
- Developing effective digital assessments
- Personalising learning
- Rethinking teacher roles
It seems to me that the role of teacher professional learning is going to be vital. The inertia that has so far prevented any real change in many schools is still present and is largely a result of organisational and individual resistance to change. Like anyone else teachers see the threat of change and often perceive it as a threat to their professionalism. This needs to be directly addressed by those responsible for the further development of schools at state and national level.
It is always interesting to see the report’s take on time to adoption of learning trends.
One year or less (2015–2016):
- Cloud computing
- Mobile learning
Of these, currently, BYOD is gaining widespread acceptance now – although there are resisters. The use of mobile phones is still a burning issue in many classrooms – new opportunity for learning activities or distraction?
Two to three years (2017–2018):
- 3D printing/rapid prototyping
- Adaptive learning technologies
- Information visualization
- Learning analytics
The promise of adaptive learning technologies – intelligent systems that adapt themselves to the student’s needs – is still to be realised. These systems have shown themselves to be clumsy and ineffective in the past. Their potetnial is huge but I’m not sure technology is sufficiently advanced as yet. We will however, see the growth of many systems offering interpreted data from learning systems to the classroom teacher (LMSs, Dashboards and similar systems).
Four to five years (2019–2020):
- Visual data analysis
- Wearable technology
I wouldn’t have thought drones and badges were this far away but we will see. They key for me is getting prospective users of information on student achievements to acknowledge their credibility – to become familiar with the metadata concept to evaluate the credentials of the awarding body and so on.
One large question that arises from this report is the absence of any mention of MOOC’s such as Coursera. Although these organisations are just getting started and are pretty primitive in their teaching methods (video lectures plus quizzes) they should eventually have some influence on schools – and I would have thought within the time frame of this report.
Read the full report here.