NMC Horizon Report for Higher Education 2016

The latest annual NMC Horizon Report for Higher Education has just been released. It contains 6 key trends in educational technology, 6 challenges to overcome and predicts 6 developments in educational technology.

The report is very similar to the 2015 edition.

Trends (from short term to long term)

  • Growing focus on measuring learning– rethink how to define, measure and demonstrate subject mastery, also a focus on learning analytics
  • Increasing the use of blended learning designs – combining online and face-to-face learning
  • Redesigning learning spaces – support project-based interactions, promote mobility, flexibility and multi-device usage as well as collaborative communication
  • Shift to deeper learning approaches – critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and self-directed learning. A shift towards project-based and inquiry-based learning.
  • Advancing cultures of innovation – restructuring universities to allow flexibility and encourage creative and entrepreneurial thinking (a silicon valley narrative)
  • Rethinking how institutions work – enabling graduates to be more work savvy, catering for non-traditional students and online learning business models

Comment: The trends are similar to the previous year’s report, with measuring learning, blended learning, redesign of learning spaces and cultures of innovation remaining on the list.

Challenges (from short term to long term)

  • Blending formal and informal learning – increasing interest in self-directed, curiosity-based learning such as in museums and personal learning networks, recognition of informal learning
  • Improving digital literacy – encompassing understanding of digital tools and information
  • Competing models of education – MOOCs, competency-based education, short courses
  • Personalising Learning – addressing the specific learning needs of individual students
  • Balancing our connected and unconnected lives – balance technology usage with other developmental needs
  • Keeping education relevant – degrees do not guarantee employment, linkages with vocational education

Comment: The challenges are similar to the previous year’s report, with blending formal and informal learning, digital literacy, competing models of education and personalising learning remaining on the list.

Developments in Technology

  • Near-term
    • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – students bring their own devices into education
    • Learning Analytics and Adaptive Learning – build better pedagogies, empower active learning, target at-risk students and assess factors affecting completion and student success
  • Mid-term
    • Augmented and Virtual Reality – AR refers to the layering of data over 3D spaces, while VR simulates the physical presence of people and objects
    • Makerspaces – foster creativity, design and engineering through tools such as 3D printing
  • Far-term
    • Affective computing – programming machines to recognise, interpret, process and simulate human emotions
    • Robotics – design and application of robots in education

Comment: In comparison to the previous report, Bring Your Own Device remains a short term development, Learning Analytics is back on the list after an absence, Makerspaces is still a medium term development, while the the far-term technologies are new.

Report: Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Hall, C. (2016). NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.



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