Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog

Scanning the Horizon – A Review of the 2009 Horizon Report
February 23, 2009, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Articles, Work Activities | Tags: , , , , , , ,

One of the reports that I always look forward to reading is the Horizon Report [PDF] from the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.  This report is always interesting to read and thought provoking.  It contains important trends and topics that are an important read for anyone working in education.  Whether or not you are a techie with a pocket protector, or a technophobe, or someone that lies somewhere in the middle, this report is well worth reading.

In short, the Horizon Report focuses on the following six areas that will have an impact on teaching and learning within the next 5 years:

  1. Mobiles
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Geo-everything
  4. The Personal Web
  5. Semantec-aware Applications
  6. Smart Objects

MOBILES – While the debate continues on whether or not to allow cell phones in the classrooms (see School Cell Phone Ban article)… not to mention laptops, one this is clear, mobile technologies will continue to play an ever more important role in our personal lives and also from a productivity standpoint.  Take a look at the Apple iPhone ad as a perfect illustration for this.  Need a better educational example you ask? Well, ok… check out this iStanford iPhone app video.

In addition to crisis message alerts from GRCC’s Rave Wireless system, the college is currently working to include the ability for students to subscribe to course related information (announcements, calendar items, assignments, and grades) in the college’s Blackboard system.  More information is located on GRCC’s mobile web site.

In addition, the college is working on expanding the use of the iPod Touch for podcasting lectures that are captured with Camtasia Relay to support the work of the AT&T grant that was awarded to the college back in February 2008.

Following along on this mobile theme, GRCC is also looking forward to Blackboard’s iPhone app to provide even better integration for students and their access to course information with an iPhone or iPod Touch.

CLOUD COMPUTING – What is becoming an more common place buzz word in education, this notion will likely be shaping how students and faculty communicate and exchange information.  Much of the course information is already available via the web, through GRCC’s Blackboard system as well as publisher web sites.  Also, GRCC currently uses Gmail for student email and the Google Apps are a possibility in the future.

GEO-EVERYTHING – While you may lump this into the MOBILES section, there is tremendous potential here for disciplines like geography, history, and science whereby location, combined with imagary provide a wealth of contextual information that provides a more thorough understanding of the materials.

THE PERSONAL WEB – Combining with the students ability to access course content anytime/anywhere is the ability for students to easily share, connect, and collaborate online.  Not only can students access information, but they can interact with it, comment on it, engage with it.  Services like Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr provide end user generated content that when combined with online community creates a potentially powerful learning environment.  GRCC’s YouTube site is already providing a wealth of information that is freely available to not only the students here at GRCC but the community beyond.  Combined with that is GRCC’s Facebook page that provides yet another way for individuals to interact collectively…   Students are also beginning to use blogs, wikis, and portfolios that are integrated into Blackboard through a Building Block from Learning Objects Inc.

Finally, students can take advantage of Classtop CourseFeed or Blackboard Sync to integrate their personal web space and academic web spaces together.

SEMANTIC-AWARE APPLICATIONS – No where but the web could such a thing be possible.  That is, the ability to create connections between items that are seemingly unrelated to generate new meaning.   While just scratching the surfance, Scholar by Blackboard is one service that already contains rich resources that point to knowledge contruction.  However, what’s missing is the intelligence behind connecting all of these seemingly unrelated resources.  Albeit, Scholar is still an effective tool that provides social bookmarking and sharing from a personal/productivity tool, at the course level, and toward a knowledge sharing and construction perspective.

SMART OBJECTS – Items that are self aware have potential in education beyond the typical situations where you may find things like RFID tags and the like.   Think in terms of signing out reference materials in the Library by merely walking out with them.  Or perhaps paying for your food in the cafeteria by simply walking out of the lunchroom.  Technologies that work for people, rather than the other way around could help for something as simple as reducing much of the time spent standing in lines.  Blackboard and Sony FeliCa announced a partnership in this direction about a year ago.

Switching gears, but yet related to this 2009 Horizon Report are the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s Top Teaching and Learning Challenges for 2009:

  1. Creating learning environments that promote active learning, critical thinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge creation.
  2. Developing 21st-century literacies among students and faculty (information, digital, and visual).
  3. Reaching and engaging today’s learner.
  4. Encouraging faculty adoption and innovation in teaching and learning with IT.
  5. Advancing innovation in teaching and learning (with technology) in an era of budget cuts.

Combining and comparing the 2 reports, there is a common theme around reaching and engaging today’s learners using technologies that promote active learning, collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing.  The importance of encouraging faculty adoption and supporting innovation in teaching and learning is becoming exceedingly clear.


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