external image HR06cover.gif Technologies Highlighted in the 2006 Horizon Report

Listed below are the six technologies highlighted in the 2006 Horizon Report, with a short description of each. Where are they now? Are the horizons associated with them still accurate? What may have changed? Should they still be on our radar screens? Let us know your thoughts...

Where Are They Now?

Review past Horizon Reports to comment on how they have played out over time.

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Social Computing

The application of computer technology to facilitate interaction and collaboration, a phenomenon known as social computing, is happening all around us. Working on a major project where virtual collaboration tools replace most face-to-face meetings, working on a daily basis with colleagues a thousand miles away, or attending a conference held entirely online is no longer unusual. An interesting new dimension is unfolding as social networking tools find application in social computing: the idea of simple tools, loosely joined, that allow shared knowledge and experiences, and shared taxonomies — folksonomies — to emerge from a group of people with similar interests.
  • This shows no sign of abating and seems well under way. [SWL]

Personal Broadcasting

At the leading edge of a wave that will last for the next several years and beyond, personal broadcasting takes advantage of small, easy-to-use devices that people already carry to capture and share personal experiences, information, and events. This trend, which has roots in text-based media (personal websites and blogs), is expanding to include audio and video, as the tools for capturing and sharing those media become smaller and better. From podcasting to video blogging (vlogging), personal broadcasting is an increasingly popular trend that is already impacting campuses and museum audiences.
  • This also shows no sign in abating and seems largely to be coming true [SWL]

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

The Phones in Their Pockets

Cell phones, which are commonly carried by virtually every college student, have begun to feature many capabilities that initially were associated with other devices, such as e-mail, instant messaging, web browsing, web services, and now even video. Phones are small, convenient, and increasingly powerful. Now that Flash players are included with almost all new phones, the restrictions on the kinds of content that can be directed to and exchanged between phones have been largely removed. We are about to see a whole new family of features for phones, enabled by Flash. This form of communication is still in its infancy but is destined for rapid growth: its value to education will become apparent when we are able to use it to deliver educational content—right to the phones in their pockets.
  • Phones are everywhere but it always seems like "tomorrow and tomorrow" for their promise to hold true in education. Maybe tomorrow! [SWL]
  • Museums are beginning to take advantage of those pocket phones to deliver additional content in galleries. Building on the familiar audio-tour model, smaller institutions are creating their own content and working with companies to deliver it to visitors through their phones. The cut in costs for producing and delivering content this way has great appeal. [SBS]

Educational Gaming

Educational gaming has seemed tantalizing close, yet somehow not quite within our reach for a number of years; but the promise of educational gaming continues to fascinate us. The potential for learning in this space is broad, and there is much work to be done. We are just beginning to see the results of research into gaming and engagement theory, the effect of using games in practice, and the structure of cooperation in gameplay. By studying the principles of game design, educators are learning more about how to package and deliver content to facilitate comprehension and retention. Educational gaming is a growing field with serious implications for adult learning that we are only beginning to understand.
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Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

Augmented Reality and Enhanced Visualization

While still a few years away from general acceptance and use in education, augmented reality and enhanced visualization are already in use in disciplines like medicine, engineering, the sciences, and archaeology. By offering a visual representation of large data sets, these technologies open the door to new ways of understanding the world. Augmented reality overlays information onto the real world, supplementing what can be seen with what is hidden. Enhanced visualization creates a three-dimensional experience based on a set of data, bringing the information to life in a way that makes it almost physically present. Both have the power to transform understanding, and both will have greater implications for education in the coming years.
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Context-Aware Environments and Devices

Context-aware environments and devices, broadly being explored in experimental settings, will erase the boundaries between people and the things they use. Already, computers exist that can make decisions based on contextual clues such as the user's location and orientation, the date and time of day, ambient conditions of lighting and temperature, and so on. Experimental classrooms can already sense the location and actions of the teacher and students, and change the environment accordingly. Over time, as sensors and portable devices converge, these technologies will make learning environments seem almost intuitively responsive.
  • It seems significant that this was on the list as '3-5 years out' in 2004, and still in the same slot 2 years later. 2 years further on...still '3-5 years out' [SWL]We needed to wait for an iPhone ;-) - alan alan Aug 31, 2009