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2018 Higher Ed Horizon Report Highlights Measuring Learning and Redesigning Spaces

2018 Horizon Report

The details have arrived: About four months after issuing a preview edition of the NMC Horizon Report for higher education, Educause has published the full report. This is the first publication to be produced since the higher ed technology and IT association acquired the assets of New Media Consortium, former publisher of the Horizon reports, earlier this year. Educause had been working with NMC on multiple projects at the time of the bankruptcy declaration.

The new report, as expected, identified six trends, six challenges, and six developments that are likely to influence ed tech on campuses over the next five years. The various lists were developed with the input from some 71 experts from around the world.

In the short term, the two top drivers include a "growing focus on measuring learning" and an emphasis on "redesigning learning spaces." Both of these trends are ongoing; the measurement of learning has surfaced annually in the report since 2013 and learning spaces since 2015.

Mid-term trends — those expected to hit the tipping point within three to five years — are proliferation of open education resources and a pickup in new forms of interdisciplinary studies that tap visualization, geospatial applications and "innovative uses of open source tools."

In the long term (five-plus years), the experts who weighed in for this year's predictions expect to see more institutions advancing "cultures of innovation" and greater cross-institution and cross-sector collaboration.

Over the next year, the report predicted great leaps in the adoption of analytics technologies and makerspaces. Both of those have also shown up in previous issues of the report, analytics off and on since 2012 and makerspaces in 2015 and 2016.

Adaptive learning tech and artificial intelligence will take a bit longer for adoption — about two to three years. And mixed reality and robotics is expected to achieve major buy-in in four to five years.

The significant challenges that are getting in the way of technology adoption, but which are also considered "solvable" are the creation of "authentic learning experiences" and "improving digital literacy." The latter has been identified as an obstacle since 2015; and the former has been an intermittent hurdle since 2014.

The two more difficult challenges, defined as those that may be understood but with no quick solutions are the advancement of digital equity and the adaptation of the institutional organization as it grapples with the future of work.

The two "wicked challenges" — those that are both complex and perhaps impossible to address — involve economic and political pressures and a refashioning of the roles of educators as teaching and learning is infused with more tech-enabled approaches.

As with previous Horizon reports, the latest edition included examples of interesting and effective tech usage among schools, with references to numerous college and university projects that exemplify the use of the emerging technologies, as well as links to further reading.

As the authors explained, the report can be used as a reference and "technology-planning guide" by educators, higher education leaders, administrators, policymakers and technologists. "It is our hope," they added, "that these essays and the resources provided to complement each topic will help inform the choices that institutions are making about technology to improve, support, or extend teaching, learning and creative inquiry in higher education across the globe."

The Horizon Report is openly available through the Educause website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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