New Horizons

I am sure many of you were, like me, shocked and surprised when the news came through late last year of the liquidation of the New Media Consortium, the non-profit organisation best known for the publication of the international Horizon Reports, which presented researched projections into the future of technology at K-12 schools, universities, libraries and museums. Reading about the closure on Bryan Alexander’s blog not only had me thinking about the staff who now faced the Christmas season without a job, but also about how much I had taken for granted the work that NMC does, and the value I have drawn from the Horizon Report over the years, as an educator, librarian and student involved in learning more about contemporary and emerging technologies across these sectors.

So today, when I read Alexander’s most recent post, where he shares his wonderings about the future of the Horizon Report, I was inspired to share my own thoughts.

Now seems like the perfect time to analyse the data and information collected and disseminated by the Horizon Reports since their inception in 2002, to see exactly how the trends and projections made have panned out. As Audrey Watter pointed out in 2015, one of the weaknesses of the report was that it only presented trends and projections – it did not revisit previous years’ publications to assess their validity, nor did it make any attempt to explain how or why these trends emerged or disappeared. Now, perhaps a gap year might be worthwhile. Rather than leaping immediately into a new ‘phoenix’ like project, taking stock to draw full value from the wonderful data gathered over 15 years might enable new horizons to become even richer.

Taking stock would prevent the Horizon Report from going down in history as just another ‘trend’ report like those Watter so incisively analyses. It would gather together the core value of the reports in one final publication that could then form a foundation for some of the creative, innovative and downright exciting possiblities Alexander raises. The collective ‘brain’ of the NMC Horizon Report group is too rich to lose so suddenly.

New horizons are beckoning in education, and yet it feels as though we are all working within deep and impenetrable silos. Pockets of excellence draw together the affordances of social technology, innovating in ways previously not possible, and yet too often the bulk are swept along with concepts that are little more than chalk and talk with computers (personalised learning?). So perhaps there is a silver lining to this cloud. Rather than ‘keeping on, keeping on’, this likely halt in our favourite tech prediction publication may give us the pause to find new ways to work together to create something even better. A project that learns progressively and builds upon previous discoveries, which focuses on the how as much as the what.

I will be watching keenly how the vacuum is filled, and will be looking for ways in which I can contribute. If you are also interested, follow Bryan Alexander’s blog, sign up to the Connected Learning Alliance and keep an eye on #NMCliquidation on Twitter. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Oh, and happy new year!

2 thoughts on “New Horizons”

  1. What a moving and thoughtful reflection. Thank you.

    A gap year is a fascinating way of looking ahead. That would certainly give people time to analyze what’s been done while developing the next project.
    Do you think that people would be interested in participating, if we did this in the open (blog posts, etc)?

    1. Thanks Bryan! I for one would definitely be interested in participating in a gap year project for the Horizon Report. I think that being conducted openly would enrich the spirit of the reports, as they have always seemed to have embraced the open ethos (published under Creative Commons licence, data collection via wiki). I also think that by making thinking transparent, others who may not be directly participating also have the opportunity to learn from and to learn with. I know I gained a greater understanding from reading some of the wikis where discussions where going on prior to the publication of previous Horizon Reports, even though I was not directly involved. I look forward to continue to this ongoing discussion. 🙂

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