As part of the Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) speaker series, the 2010 Horizon Report touched upon many important questions about the significance of existing and emerging technologies and its impact on modes of teaching and learning in higher educational settings. Now in its seventh year, the Horizon Report is a continuing collaboration between two well-recognized non-profit organizations in education and technology—the New Media Consortium (NMD) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) – along with more than 400 contributors from the fields of business, industry, technology, and education. Each year, the report identifies six areas of emerging technology that are most likely to have a significant impact on higher education within an adoption period of one to five years. With an extensive background in educational technology, Rob Peregoodoff, Manager of Learning Technologies at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, led a stimulating and inviting presentation that generated an avid discussion among the audience.
After a short ice-breaker activity and introduction, Rob set the gears in motion with a retrospective highlight of key trends that have been identified over the past few years and how they have evolved. Intelligent searching, first identified in the 2005 Horizon Report, is now commonly known as the act of Googling. An example of grassroots video, identified in 2008, has developed above and beyond into popular video sharing websites like YouTube. In 2009, there was an increase in the mention of mobile technology, the notion of the personal web, and the appearance of Geo-Everything (mapping of geolocative data) in mobile phones and other devices. Outside.in and the Apple iPhone are examples of websites and mobile devices utilizing location-awareness tools made available to the user. While the technologies mentioned above have proved to be effectively implemented into mainstream use, Rob reminds us that the Horizon Report is “not a predictive tool.” The report is derived from what the Advisory Board “believe[s] are going to be influential within the teaching, learning, and creative inquiry fields.” Although the key trends put forward in the Horizon Report do not determine the success of its outcome, one fact that can be made certain about this influential document—as Rob notes throughout the session— is that “it is about the technologies.” It is not about developing the most outstanding technology, but rather how these technologies are later implemented and how they allow educators and learners to become engaged in innovative ways of sharing, teaching, and learning.
Keeping this point in mind, the remainder of the presentation moved forward with a series of questions that allowed each audience member to share their thoughts and viewpoints. Rob focused on the key trends and challenges that have been identified in the 2010 Horizon Report, and the discussion opened with the question: “Should students be given the choice whether to attend classes face-to-face or remotely; synchronously or asynchronously?” With a mix of UBC faculty members, staff, and students among the audience, close to 80% responded with the answer “Yes”. Audience members from both sides of the argument voiced their opinions, and one critical point that was found to be in common was to bridge the opportunity for both classroom and distance education learning. Speaking from past teaching experiences in Dubai, Rob emphasized the importance of breaking the pendulum for choosing either/or, and creating the choice for students to experience both. By allowing accessibility to both face-to-face and online learning environments, Rob was able to monitor the progress of his online students while also focusing on a small group of students in the classroom, stating “What I realized with the technology was that… [it] was brilliant, because we gave them the choice. [And] it was the technology that allowed me to do that.” Another key trend included the question of whether or not all assessments should be open-Internet. This led into the conversation of credentials and what it means to give students a grade. Rob asked the audience “One of the big challenges that we face as we move into this open world is, how do we assess? How do we give it a grade that means something, or do we?” Many audience members joined the debate and commented on the discrepancy between achieving a high grade and meeting the level of competency, the wide variety of methods and processes used to assess skills, and other relevant qualifications such as interpersonal skills.
In the second part of this discussion, Rob presented several key challenges which included the following statements:
- The role of the academy—and the way we prepare students for their future lives—is changing.
- Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
- New scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching continue to emerge but appropriate metrics for evaluating them increasingly and far too often lag and fall behind.
The last statement stemmed a debate towards the credibility of citing social media sources (eg. blogs and Twitter) and Wikipedia in academic research and papers. The spectrum of how to define and distinguish a credible source is a contentious topic, and the audience seemed to be split between those that agreed and disagreed with the statement. An audience member from the disagree side raised a considerable issue, believing that the “important point is to teach students how to understand what is credible and not credible… [the] concept of this needs to be taught.” Rob concluded this part of the presentation by leaving the audience to ponder the final question: “Are we spending too much money on technology?”
To wrap up the session, Rob listed the top six areas of emerging technology identified in this year’s report: mobile computing, open content, electronic books, simple augmented reality, gesture-based computing, and visual data analysis. Rob also shared examples of various resources that have already been developed and adapted. Hotseat, an example of mobile computing, is a tool used at Purdue University allows students to contribute to class discussions and engage with other students and the professor through mobile and web applications. Flat World Knowledge is an example of open content, and offers electronic versions of textbooks that are prepared by professors for their students for free. As technology continues to emerge and advance, we can only expect to see more engagement and cross collaboration between the teaching and learning platforms in the coming years.
For more information about the 2010 Horizon Report, please visit http://wp.nmc.org/horzon2010.
Please see below for a list of additional resources, Rob’s presentation slides, and a recording of the session:
Gesture Based Computing at UBC:
Visual Data Analysis:
Rob’s presentation slides: