Jul 22 2015

5 Surprising Changes in Horizon's 2015 Report on the Future of K–12 Tech

Looking back at last year's NMC list of tech trends in K–12, there were several surprising additions and removals.

Each year, the New Media Consortium (NMC) releases its predictions for the K–12 technology market — which devices and teaching strategies are gaining ground, along with how close schools are to integrating them in the classroom.

The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K–12 Edition weighs in at 58 pages and is intended to help guide educational-technology decision-makers through the complex and evolving trends shaping the industry. The findings are based on input from 56 experts across a variety of professions, including educators, futurists, journalists, information technologists and IT leaders.

This year's list provided more than a few surprises, with new additions to the list, along with several technologies and strategies that dropped off completely.

Here is NMC's 2015 view of the horizon for K–12 technology integration, compared with the 2014 study:

One year or less (2015–2016)

  • BYOD (no change)
  • Makerspaces (new; 2014: Cloud Computing)

Two to three years (2017–2018)

  • 3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping (new; 2014: Games and Gamification)
  • Adaptive Learning Technologies (new; 2014: Learning Analytics)

Four to five years (2019–2020)

  • Badges/Microcredit (new; 2014: Internet of Things)
  • Wearable Technology (no change)

Within that list are five big changes from the previous year:

1. Games and Gamification doesn't make the cut

NMC CEO Larry Johnson said gamification is unlikely to hit mainstream status, because the concepts are "too hard to integrate and there are no tools to make it easier." However, digital badges are a popular offshoot of gamified learning, and they made it onto this year's list. NMC pegged digital badges for mainstream adoption within four to five years.

2. 3D Printing leaps onto the charts The prediction that 3D printers will become significant classroom tools isn’t farfetched. The technology has already broken ground in K–12 schools. And with sales of 3D printers projected to grow by more than 500 percent from 2013-2018, it’s only a matter of time before that translates into mainstream.

3. Cloud Computing sunsetted

The cloud’s omission from the report is an indication that the technology has already become so pervasive that it’s no longer on the horizon — it has already arrived as a vital technology for education. The growth of Chromebooks, powered by Google’s cloud-based Google Apps for Education suite, is just one example of how the cloud has become mainstream. Horizon also notes how specific cloud-based platforms, such as Qino, are now helping students keep track of their assignments.

4. Internet of Things removed

This category could have disappeared in favor of being absorbed by wearable technology, a trend that has remained in the distant future over the past two years. In the 2014 report, Horizon noted that “the potential of the Internet of Things is still largely being explored through research efforts.”

5. Makerspaces on the horizon

Makerspaces — technologically equipped community centers — didn’t make Horizon’s 2014 list at all, but rose to the “one to two years” category in 2015. Thanks largely to the communal nature of schools’ access to 3D printers, makerspaces have become vital workspaces for classes experimenting with hands-on technologies.


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