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The predictions for technology in education are outlined in two reports; the NMC Horizon report (New Media Consortium) and the STEM report (science, technology, engineering and mathematics education).

Horizon Report Trends

The New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon report has been published for 10 years. It is a collaborative research effort by an advisory board comprised of an international body of experts in education, technology, and other fields. There role is to discuss significant trends and challenges, identifying six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use in education over the next five years. For example, two significant challenges that impact on students' learning are insufficient training is provided to develop "digital media literacy as a key skill in every discipline and profession" (p.9), and "Most academics are not using new technologies for learning and teaching, nor for organizing their own research" (p. 10).

In 2014, the NMC Horizon report (2014) the following six trends are driving change in higher education.

  1. Fast trend: over the next one year to two years - growing ubiquity of social media.
  2. Fast trend: over the next one year to two years - integration of online, hybrid, and collaborative learning.
  3. Mid-range trend: within three to five years - rise of data-driven learning and assessment.
  4. Mid-range trend: within three to five years - shift from students as consumers to students as creators.
  5. Long-range trend: in five or more years - agile approaches to change.
  6. Long-range trend: in five or more years - evolution of online learning.

What does this mean fro teachers and students?

Teachers will quickly need to develop skills in using a wide range of social media so they can participate in professional social networks and understand how to leverage social media to encourage social learning. The second fast trend illustrates a growing tendency to make use of the digital tools that are now available so that students and teachers can interact and communicate more readily and collaborate in the learning process. Students will be expected to engage and participate actively in their learning, and will need teachers who can support their use of a broad variety of tools and applications.

Compare the changes that have occurred since the last two reports

The NMC Horizon report (2012), education was predicted to become increasingly more flexible and collaborative, cloud-based (on the Internet) and information-rich, thus challenging educators. Education paradigms were seen as shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models with a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based and active learning. The trend technologies included mobile apps, tablet computing, game-based learning, learning analytics, gesture-based computing, and the Internet of things.

In the next NMC Horizon report (2013) a few things changed. Open education resources and practices were becoming more common with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which were dominating the higher education scene, tablets took over and mobile apps were more prolific. Over the next five years, we were told to expect to see more common use of the following approaches.

  • In one year or less: mobile apps and tablet computing.
  • In two to three years: games and gamification and learning analytics.
  • In four to five years: 3D printing and wearable technology.

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Explore the 2014 NMC Horizon report and reflect on how the six trends might affect your practice, now and in the future.

STEM Education

Trends in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education are predicted in the report: Technology Outlook for STEM+ Education 2013 - 2018. The comparison across three reports (including the Horizon report) is shown in Table 1. Learning analytics, mobile learning, online learning and virtual and remote laboratories are predicted as most important emerging technologies for this area of education within the next year. Technologies such as 3D printing, games and gamification, immersive learning environments and wearable technologies predicted for the next two to three years.

Both cloud computing and social networking are considered to be mainstream technologies for this sector already so are not mentioned in the current report. Curiously, the STEM sector seems to be behind in mobile learning which is just now in 2013 predicted as a trend, even though it has been considered by the New Media Consortium to be a global trend in higher education since 2008.

Interestingly, online learning, although not new, is considered a trend because the design in the STEM sector is undergoing change as a result of massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): "Online learning, in some form, is positioned for imminent adoption in the coming year, mostly based on the rise of massive open online courses" (NMC, 2013, p. 2). According to the report: "The STEM+ field is largely driving the proliferation of online learning, with computer science and other STEM - related courses dominating catalog listings across several of the top online learning providers" (NMC, 2013, p. 2).

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Portfolio Activity

Design a learning strategy.
  • Choose one trend technology and pedagogy relevant to your context.
  • Design a learning strategy based on a framework or model of learning design.
  • Explain how the strategy supports flexible learning and why.


Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

To find out what all these terms mean you will need to do some research in the report and on the Internet.