By: Elspeth McCulloch, EDC Educational Technology Development Coordinator

Discover how experts rank educational technology trends, challenges and developments for the next year…or three years…or more.

When it comes to describing trends and discussing common strengths, opportunities and threats, the New Media Consortium (NMC) team of experts offers up an annual kaleidoscope of educational technology developments in their Horizon Report. The 2017 edition of their annual report is a collaborative effort between NMC and the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI). A diverse panel of experts, drawn from universities and colleges around the globe, provide the basis for discussion and analysis of how learning technologies will impact teaching, learning and creative expression in the future.

The NMC has produced the report since 2004, so there are ample longitudinal data available, as well as separate reports for K-12, museums and libraries. This year’s report focuses on the trends, attitudes and realities of technology adoption. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of universities and colleges.

As in past years, the report includes short to long-term trends, solvable wicked challenges as well as important developments in educational technology in the near and not-so-near future. From the obvious short term trends of increasing mobile and blended learning adoption to the longer term challenge of rethinking the role of teachers to looking towards the next generation LMS or the Internet of Things.

Here are the top 10 observations from the 2017 Horizon Report:

  1. Advancing progressive learning approaches requires cultural transformation.
  2. Real-world skills are needed to bolster employability and workplace development.
  3. Collaboration is key for scaling effective solutions. Communities of practice, multidisciplinary leadership groups, and open social networks can help spread evidence-based approaches.
  4. Despite the proliferation of technology and online learning materials, access is still unequal. Gaps persist across the world that are hampering college completion for student groups by socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity and gender.
  5. Processes for assessing nuanced skills at a personal level are needed. Adaptive technologies and a focus on measuring learning are driving institutional decision-making while personalizing student learning experiences.
  6. Fluency in the digital realm is more than just understanding how to use technology. Training must go beyond gaining isolated technology skills toward generating a deep understanding of digital environments.
  7. Online, mobile and blended learning are foregone conclusions. If institutions do not already have robust strategies for integrating these now pervasive approaches, then they simply will not survive.
  8. Learning ecosystems must be agile enough to support the practices of the future. In using tools and platforms like LMS, educators have a desire to unbundle all of the components of a learning experience to remix open content and educational apps in unique and compelling ways.
  9. Higher education is an incubator for developing more intuitive computers.
  10. Lifelong learning is the lifeblood of higher education.

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