imageThere are plenty of differing views about the future of learning (or teaching, or education etc) and I'm sure I could spend every waking hour reading them and still never finish.

Some though are more worthwhile to read than others, and I've always appreciated the Horizon Report, published annually by the Horizon Project, part of the New Media Consortium's Emerging Technologies Initiative.

The Horizon Report

The Key Trends, Critical Challenges and Technologies to Watch identified in this year's report make interesting reading, and there's plenty of detail in the report for more information:

Key Trends

  • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching, and credentialing.
  • People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want.
  • The world of work is increasingly collaborative, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured.
  • The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.

Critical Challenges

  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
  • Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag behind the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching
  • Economic pressures and new models of education are presenting unprecedented competition to traditional models of the university
  • Keeping pace with the rapid proliferation of information, software tools, and devices is challenging for students and teachers alike.

Technologies to watch

On the near-term horizon - within the next 12 months

  • Electronic Books
  • Mobiles

On the second adoption horizon - within two to three years

  • Augmented reality
  • Game-based learning

On the far-term horizon - within four to five years

  • Gesture-based computing
  • Learning analytics

What?
Learning Analytics is "far-term horizon"?
Can we afford to wait that long?

According to the report:

  At its heart, learning analytics is about analyzing a wealth of information about students in a way that would allow schools to take action. This information can include student profiles within an institution’s database, as well as the interactions of students within course management systems. A long absence from a course’s online activities, for example, can trigger faculty intervention. At its best, however, learning analytics goes much further than this, marrying information from disparate sources to create a far more robust and nuanced profile of students, in turn offering faculty members more insight.  

That seems so critical, I don't think we can afford to wait five years for it. I know that there's plenty of work going on now by institutions, often in partnership with companies, which will hopefully start to produce meaningful Learning Analytics much sooner - and which could be adopted widely much sooner. I wonder if the timeframe is more reflection of the change management that will need to go along with the widespread use of Learning Analytics?

Learn MoreThe full Horizon Report is a PDF free download from NMC