Which Technologies Will Shape Education in 2008?

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Mobile broadband, collaborative Web technologies, and mashups will all significantly impact education over the next five years, along with "grassroots" video, collective intelligence, and "social operating systems." This according to a new report released this week by the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative, the 2008 Horizon Report.

The report focuses on the six key technology areas that the researchers identified as likely to have a major impact on "the choices of learning-focused organizations within the next five years," broken down into the technologies that will have an impact in the near term, those that are in the early stages of adoption, and those that are a bit further out on the horizon.

2008 Horizon Report

In the near term--that is, in the timeframe of about a year or less--the technologies that will have a significant impact on education include grassroots video and collaborative Web technologies. Grassroots video is, simply, user-generated video created on inexpensive consumer electronics devices and edited and encoded using free or inexpensive consumer- or prosumer-grade NLEs. Internet-based services supporting the sharing of these videos have allowed institutions to mingle their content with consumer content and "will fuel rapid growth among learning-focused organizations who want their content to be where the viewers are," according to the report. The second near-term trend, collaborative Web technology, is already in wide use in education at all levels. The complete report (see link below) provides further details.

In the mid-term, mobile broadband and data mashups will make their mark on education. Mashups, according to the report, will largely impact the way education institutions represent information. "While most current examples are focused on the integration of maps with a variety of data," the report said, "it is not difficult to picture broad educational and scholarly applications for mashups." Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and the University of Minnesota are examples of higher education institutions using mashups for learning resources and other projects. Mobile broadband too is in the early stages of adoption for educational purposes, from project-based learning activities to virtual field trips.

Further down the road, according to the report, come "collective intelligence" and "social operating systems." Collective intelligence includes wikis and community tagging. A social operating system is "the essential ingredient of next generation social networking" and "will support whole new categories of applications that weave through the implicit connections and clues we leave everywhere as we go about our lives, and use them to organize our work and our thinking around the people we know," according to the report. The time to adoption for these last two will be four to five years, the report said.

Beyond these six technologies, the report also looks at the challenges facing education institutions and the trends--or "metatrends"--that have emerged in the five years since the first edition of the report was released. The complete 2008 report is freely available online via the link below.

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