New Media Consortium CEO Larry Johnson on stage for a panel at CoSN 2016 on the future of K–12 technologies.

Apr 06 2016

CoSN 2016: NMC Offers a Taste of the Future of Classroom Technology

Virtual reality’s role in education is obscured by the hype curve, according to a leading industry technology analyst.

The future of learning technologies has a hazy horizon when you try to look too far out, says Larry Johnson.

"It's impossible to plan out very far in the future," says Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium. "Most of our thinking is based on a world that used to exist. And we did good at creating things for it, but the world that's coming will be much different from that."

Johnson hosted a panel at CoSN 2016 Wednesday teasing the NMC's forthcoming K–12 Horizon Report, an annual assessment of the technologies that could dominate schools in the coming years.

This year’s report isn't complete yet, but Johnson came prepared with a list of some of the key tech trends that have been shaping the road to K–12's future.

Short-Term Trends

  • Increased use of blending learning
  • Rise of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM) learning

Midterm Trends

  • Increasing focus on collaborative learning
  • Shift from students as consumers to students as creators

Long-Term Trends

  • Rethinking how schools work
  • Shift to deeper learning approaches

NMC's team of analysts tries to go beyond the hype curve to highlight trends that will likely "have legs" for the next several years. Sometimes, topics don’t survive, based on how technologies are panning out in classrooms. Gamification was dropped from the 2015 list of trending topics. At the time, Johnson said the teaching method was difficult to create content for and was hard to integrate into the classroom.

Similarly, virtual reality wasn't mentioned during Johnson's overview of future educational technologies, and it hasn't been on recent publications of the Horizon Report. However, Johnson fielded a question from the audience on the trending technology, saying he was excited about the potential behind VR, but concerned that the tech is still in the hype stage.

"It just hasn't grown, yet," he said. "We have a history of hype. So for anything new in those spaces to really be successful, you're going to have to overcome the history of hype."

The 2016 NMC Horizon Report is slated for release in September, just in time for the next school year. To learn more about the work being done on the report, visit

Catch all of EdTech’s CoSN 2016 reporting on our conference landing page.


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