Sunday, September 27, 2009

1.5: The Horizon Report 2009

According to the latest Australia/New Zealand Horizon Report (International report available here), here are the things to watch along with their estimated time of impact:
  • Mobile Internet devices - one year or less. I think this is actually a wee bit optimistic; mobile Internet devices (with flexible features) are actually rather expensive to own and run, and I'm not sure that their uptake will become so ubiquitous as to make them a 'one year or less' call.
  • Private clouds - one year or less.
  • Open content - two to three years. Waaaaay too optimistic IMHO. Learning objects and open content have been available for many, many years... acceptance may well be growing, but whether the use of open content will be significant in two or three years remains to be seen. Hats off to those working on it and contributing to it, but I suspect that the level of systematic change and critical mass that might be required to make open content truly viable will take longer than two to three years.
  • Virtual, augmented and alternate realities - two to three years. Could be a bit soon... experiments are voluminous, outcomes from these are not yet, to my knowledge, convincing enough to establish whether virtual realities provide any substantial advantage over more traditional means of online learning and distance education. I'm afraid the word 'fun' is used too often in the studies I have seen. Another problem is that self-reporting surveys are often used, usually providing very predictable and not-too-useful results; another is that effective learning was limited to a few small outcomes rather than across an entire course. Perhaps the next two or three years may change this picture somewhat...?
  • Location-based learning - four to five years. Looks promising, but might become a supplement for more traditionally-oriented instruction.
  • Smart objects and devices - four to five years
The findings are based on a systematic review of literature (based somewhat on popular press releases) and expert opinion based on an Australasian Advisory Board that includes our very own Derek Wenmoth (one New Zealander...!) My interpretation remains as it was last year - some caution required, though it's always very useful to be informed about possibilities. The methodology seems a bit skewed toward the 'latest and greatest', and the cutting edge RSS sources are bound to overstate trends in a speculative way. Results might also be made more optimistic by the nature of the early adopters that the Advisory Board itself seems to represent. Still, this criticism (which may well be overstated and wrong!) does not detract from the balue of these sorts of activities... the next few years will reveal all!

Again I reveal my somewhat cautious approach to the future!

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