Emerging Technology and Education: Charting New Horizons

By Jordan Hart

Each year, the New Media Consortium (NMC), an international community of experts dedicated to educational technology, releases its latest research on emerging technology and how it impacts education. The NMC looks at new or coming teaching methods enabled by technology, as well as potential educational challenges created by that technology.

This year’s Horizon Report, which summarizes NMC research and findings, sheds some fascinating light on the major trends occurring at the intersection of education and technology. As usual, the Horizon Report ties each trend to a particular timeframe.

Tablet computers are already a constant presence in modern life, and now they’re being used in classrooms.

Happening Now: Tablets and Massively Open Online Courses
The 2013 Horizon Report starts by noting trends that are either already taking place or will begin to occur within a year:

Tablets Tablet computers are now everywhere, including the classroom. The Horizon Report notes that tablets are impacting education by providing a more interactive and portable alternative to textbooks, which too often contain outdated information.

Massively Open Online Courses Turn on your TV and you’re bound to see a commercial for an online university, which use Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) to reach students located around the world. MOOCs were first popularized when Stanford University decided to offer its “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” class free of charge via the Internet. Hundreds of thousands of students signed up, and universities everywhere immediately understood that MOOCs were going to shake things up.

Coming Soon: Game-based Learning, Big Data & Analytics
Next up—the ed tech trends that will take place in two to three years:

Game-based Learning Good news for every student who’s ever wished that class could be more like playing video games. In the near future, game-like elements will become part of how information is presented to students. (Gamification was discussed extensively at the recent Stanford MediaX Conference, where it was forecasted to also have an influence on business and even government.)

Big Data & Analytics The Horizon Report pointed out the coming importance of metrics, which are already reshaping modern business practices by providing a way to calculate things like Return on Investment. For the world of education, analytics will play an increasingly significant part in designing personalized education for students. No longer will educators have to structure their courses to cater to the lowest common denominator. Instead, because of the wealth of support data, educators will be able to shape the curriculum to fit each individual student.

3D printers lets users make their own molded-plastic creations, like this cool Formula 1 racer.

Down the Road Apiece: 3D Printers and Technology You Can Wear
The DMC even used its crystal ball to predict ed tech trends four to five years out:

3D Printers 3D printers (which can output user-designed objects molded from plastic) are poised to revolutionize manufacturing the way digital has revolutionized media. These amazing new devices even received a recent mention in President Obama’s State of the Union address. Like digital media, 3D printers offer more flexibility during the design process. Just as a child can now create and release video content without ever leaving her mobile device, soon she will be able to use a 3D printer to produce Monopoly tokens that actually look like her own family members, or design a flashlight perfectly shaped for her own hand.

Wearable Technology Before long, technology will be something you wear. In fact, an early example of wearable tech may be released this year, if Apple decides to unveil its much-anticipated iWatch. Regardless, wearable tech is definitely on the way; soon our jackets will be lined with battery packs, and much of what we wear will become part of our cloud presence.

See the Future Now!
The DMC’s Horizon Report proves that technologies once considered science fiction will soon become as widespread as smartphones. No wonder that smart, creative young people are eager to see the future—and start defining their own futures. At Digital Media Academy, kids and teens get to explore cutting-edge STEM subjects through awesome tech camps in subjects like digital filmmaking, programming, game design, animation, robotics, music production, app development and Web design.

In DMA’s Engineering & Programming with Arduino camp, for example, students learn how to build and program their own robot using the popular Arduino platform. While they’re having fun, they’re also mastering useful skills in software and mechanical engineering, as well as how to program with Java™. DMA combines STEM learning and technology in a revolutionary way. Join us this summer!