What is on the five-year horizon for schools? Which trends and technology developments will drive educational change? What are the critical challenges and how can we strategize solutions? These questions regarding technology adoption and educational change steered the discussions of 61 experts to produce the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 Edition, in partnership with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and made possible by mindSpark Learning.
Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six developments in educational technology profiled in this report are poised to impact teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in K–12 education. The three sections of this report constitute a reference and technology planning guide for educators, school education leaders, administrators, policymakers, and technologists. These highlights capture the big picture themes of educational change that underpin the 18 topics:
1) Advancing progressive learning approaches requires cultural transformation. Schools must be structured to promote the exchange of fresh ideas and identify successful models with a lens toward sustainability — especially in light of inevitable leadership changes.
2) Learners are creators. The advent of makerspaces, classroom configurations that enable active learning, and the inclusion of coding and robotics are providing students with ample opportunities to create and experiment in ways that spur complex thinking. Students are already designing their own solutions to real-world challenges.
3) Inter- and multidisciplinary learning breaks down silos. School curricula are increasingly making clear connections between subjects like science and humanities, and engineering and art, demonstrating to students that a well-rounded perspective and skill set are vital to real-world success.
4) The widespread use of technology does not translate into equal learner achievement. Technology is an enabler but does not alone compensate for gaps in student engagement and performance attributable to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and gender.
5) Continuously measuring learning is essential to better understanding learners’ needs. Analytics technologies are providing teachers, schools, and districts with both individual and holistic views of student learning, informing strategies for serving at-risk and gifted populations.
6) Fluency in the digital realm is more than just understanding how to use technology. Learning must go beyond gaining isolated technology skills toward generating a deep understanding of digital environments, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content with others.
7) Authentic learning is not a trend — it is a necessity. Hands-on experiences that enable students to learn by doing cultivate self-awareness and self-reliance while piquing curiosity. Virtual reality and makerspaces are just two vehicles for stimulating these immersive opportunities.
8) There is no replacement for good teaching — the role is just evolving. No matter how useful and pervasive technology is, students will always need guides, mentors, and coaches to help them navigate projects, generate meaning, and develop lifelong learning habits. School cultures must encourage, reward, and scale effective teaching practices.
9) Schools are prioritizing computational thinking in the curriculum. Developing skills that enable learners to use computers to gather data, break it down into smaller parts, and analyze patterns will be an increasing necessity to succeed in our digital world. While coding is one aspect of this idea, even those not pursuing computer science jobs will need these skills to work with their future colleagues.
10) Learning spaces must reflect new approaches in education. The pervasiveness of active learning pedagogies is requiring a shift in how learning environments are being designed. Emerging technologies such as making, mixed reality, and the Internet of Things are requiring more flexible and connected plans.
About the report: This NMC Horizon Report series charts the five-year impact of innovative practices and technologies for K–12 education (primary and secondary education) across the globe. With more than 15 years of research and publications, the NMC Horizon Project can be regarded as education’s longest running exploration of emerging technology trends and uptake.
Download a complimentary copy of the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report report.