Ten meta-trends impacting learning

In a world where libraries are completely reinventing themselves, where
universities and schools are moving away from labs to BYOD, and where the focus of everything seems to be on mobiles —what will be the role of technology in the next decade? What do leading institutions need to be doing now to prepare? What are the strategies that will provide them the most flexibility? The greatest competitive advantage?

These are the overarching questions that recently drove the discussions at 10th anniversary New Media Consortium Horizon Project  special convocation and retreat. Over its decade of work, the Horizon Project has grown to the point that it may very well be producing the single most important body of research into emerging technology within the world of education. With more than one million downloads and 27 translations in the past ten years, the NMC Horizon Report series provides the higher education, K-12, and museum communities across the globe a key strategic technology planning tool that is continuously refreshed and updated.

The NMC and the Horizon Project are best known for its flagship Horizon Reports that focus on higher education and K-12 globally. Now, with 10 years of research that has helped us understand the nature and range of impact of emerging technolgies, the 100 thoughtleaders involved in the retreat have  moved from reflections and metalearnings from the last decade, to notions of renewal and transformation, to ultimately metatrends and action.

Out of the discussion, 28 metatrends were identified. Of these, the ten most significant are
listed here and will be the focus of the upcoming NMC Horizon Project 10th Anniversary Report:

1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative. As more and more companies move to the global marketplace, it is common for work teams to span continents and time zones. Not only are teams geographically diverse, they are also culturally diverse.
2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to. Increasingly, people own more than one device, using a computer, smartphone, tablet, and ereader. People now expect a seamless experience across all their devices.
3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network — and already is at its edges.
Mobithinking reports there are now more than 6 billion active cell phone accounts. 1.2 billion have mobile broadband as well, and 85% of new devices can access the mobile web.
4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media. Our current expectation is that the network has almost infinite capacity and is nearly free of cost. One hour of video footage is uploaded every second to YouTube; over 250 million photos are sent to Facebook every day.
5. Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world. As authoritative sources lose their importance, there is need for more curation and other forms of validation to generate meaning in information and media.
6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society. In an age where so much of our information, records, and digital content are in the cloud, and often clouds in other legal jurisdictions, the very concept of ownership is blurry.
7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success. Access to learning in any form is a challenge in too many parts of the world, and efficiency in learning systems and institutions is increasingly an expectation of governments — but the need for solutions that scale often trumps them both. Innovations in these areas are increasingly coming from unexpected parts of the world, including India, China, and central Africa.
8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy. Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in which information is everywhere. In such a world, sense-making and the ability to assess the credibility of information and media are paramount.
9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training. Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and socially, but also in academia — and worldwide. As a result, credibility, validity, and control are all notions that are no longer givens when so much learning takes place outside school systems.
10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing. Libraries are deeply reimagining their missions; colleges and universities are struggling to reduce costs across the board. The educational ecosystem is shifting, and nowhere more so than in the world of publishing, where efforts to reimagine the book are having profound success, with implications that will touch every aspect of the learning enterprise.

These metatrends are the first of much yet to come in the next year. Watch NMC.org for news and more throughout the Horizon Project’s 10th Anniversary. To be part of the discussions, follow #NMChz!

Image: BigStock Photo Holding Technology

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