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Moving Beyond Technology

The NMC Horizon Project has released a new list of metatrends that will impact education over the next 10 years.

Under the auspices of the New Media Consortium's Horizon Project, a hundred thought leaders from 20 countries gathered last January to list the most important metatrends and global challenges facing education in the next 10 years. Their collective insight will help inform a special metatrends edition of the NMC Horizon Report being released this spring.

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The January discussion referenced 28 metatrends, but NMC identified the 10 most compelling in a communiqué issued about the meeting (see box). "What's interesting is that the list is not really about technology, per se," CEO Larry Johnson tells CT. "It's about how people expect the world to work--such as how they collaborate, or openness as a value."

The implications of this for higher education are significant and encouraging. "We are moving away from a model of universities as the providers of technology," Johnson explains. "If I want to get on the internet, I'm not going to go to a lab at a university to do that--I'm going to do it on my mobile device. We are moving to more of a utility model. It makes me very optimistic because, in the next 10 years, the conversations are going to be less about devices and software, and more about learning and the real mission of an education institution. And the metatrends suggest that this mission is changing now in ways that have very little to do with technology--and everything to do with the ways people work and learn today."

Editor's note: Larry Johnson will give the opening keynote at the CT Forum 2012 conference in Long Beach, CA, on April 30. For information, visit CT Forum.

Most Significant Metatrends for the Next 10 Years

1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative.

2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to.

3. The internet is becoming a global mobile network--and already is at its edges.

4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media.

5. Openness--concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information--is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world.

6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society.

7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success.

8. The internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy.

9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training.

10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing.

Excerpts of the 10 top metatrends identified in A Communiqué from the Horizon Project Retreat, January 2012, an NMC Horizon Project publication under Creative Commons attribution license.

About the Author

Mary Grush is Editor and Conference Program Director, Campus Technology.

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