February 20, 2014

Comparing Ed Tech Trends via the Horizon Project in Higher Ed to K-12

The New Media Consortium Horizon Project looks at educational technology trends in three different arenas: K-12, higher education, and museums; its latest release focuses on ed tech in higher education in three different categories: trends accelerating ed tech adoption, challenges impeding ed tech adoption, and important developments in ed tech.

The report first looks at trends that are accelerating ed tech adoption, and the pace at which they expect those trends to take hold. The trends that parallel activity we are seeing in K-12 include:

  • Online, hybrid, and collaborative learning: The report notes this as a fast-moving trend that is likely to either create substantive change or burn out in one to two years. We are seeing the same pattern in K-12 education, where blended and hybrid learning are quickly integrating into traditional schools.
  • Social media use in learning: The report is clear that while social media use is widespread, “the impact of these changes in scholarly communication and on the credibility of information remains to be seen.” I think this is particularly true in K-12 where students are still learning how to validate sources and use social media effectively, but innovative teachers are figuring out how to integrate social media resources into their classrooms.
  • Data-driven learning and assessment: Using data to personalize the learning process is a key trend in K-12 online and blended learning, and is where the truly transformational potential lies. However, this trend is one that is slower to adopt as effective systems must be created and teachers need to learn how to shift teaching strategies and use the technology effectively.

Ed tech is facing serious challenges in all industries; these are the challenges noted in the report that parallel what we are seeing in K-12:

  • Low digital fluency of faculty: We covered this topic in a recent post; the challenge is noted in the report as one that is urgent, and that we know can be addressed through teacher professional development (although often adequate professional development is not provided).
  • Scaling teaching innovations: This is noted as a difficult challenge whose solution is more elusive, and we se the same in K-12 education. Innovators are seeing excellent results with online and blended learning around the country, but shifting those practices into the mainstream—whether in higher ed or K-12—is one of the greatest challenges facing the K-20 education field.
  • Expanding access: I appreciate their label of this being a “wicked challenge that is too complex to even define, much less address.” While the focus in higher ed is on creating affordable options for American students and more options for students around the world, in K-12 the challenge is to make online and blended options available to all students—not just those whose schools are wealthy enough to purchase devices and set up powerful wi-fi networks.

Finally, the report offers ed tech developments to watch, including flipped classrooms, learning analytics, 3D printing, and games / gamification, among others.

Historically, higher education has been a few steps ahead of K-12 in terms of online and blended learning adoption. While we are seeing flipped classrooms in K-12, the other trends highlighted are still very much in use only by the “innovators”; it will be interesting to see which make it into K-12.

One Response to Comparing Ed Tech Trends via the Horizon Project in Higher Ed to K-12

  1. Pingback: Small liberal arts college supports online courses « Uncategorized « Keeping Pace

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