Horizon Report Touts Collaborative, Project-Based Learning

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

In a collaboration between the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking, a new report examines emerging technologies and the potential impact they will have when used in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in schools.

Considered to be the world’s longest-running look into emerging technology trends in education, the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition has more than 13 years of research and publications behind it.

The report discusses two long-term trends agreed upon by experts, including rethinking how schools work in order to increase student engagement and support innovation, as well as moving toward a deeper learning approach, including project-based and challenge-based learning.  An additional 16 trends are discussed in the report, which all support the idea that challenges, key trends, and important technological developments could result in changes to K-12 education throughout the world.

Each trend discussed was chosen by a panel of 56 education and technology experts from 22 countries located on six continents.  The panel believes these trends are most likely to influence technology planning and decision-making over the next five years.

The experts begin by discussing the current movement to reinvent the traditional classroom model through innovative learning approaches including project and challenge-based learning.  The report states that this trend is a response to the “overly structured nature of a typical school day,” which some believe to be over-bearing and causing a pause in the learning process.

The report says that core content should be delivered in such a way that allows students to learn and then apply what they have learned.  They suggest that this is accomplished through methods such as project-based learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and other such methods which make use of tablets, smartphones, and similar technologies which allow students to connect the curriculum with real life applications.  The methods are student-centered, which encourages students to take control of their education.  This idea is further discussed in a separate trend in which the authors state students should be considered creators rather than consumers.

The report also highlights collaborative learning, which involves students or teachers working together in peer-to-peer or group activities, arguing that doing so improves student engagement and achievement – especially for disadvantaged students.  In addition, teachers are thought to benefit through peer groups during professional development and interdisciplinary teaching opportunities.

Hybrid learning is also touched upon, stating that schools that make use of online learning are finding that the method offers students complimentary functions to the physical buildings, and could be used to free up class time for activities that increase the benefits of face-to-face instruction.

The report goes on to discuss the challenges faced technology adoption in K-12 education, including the creation of authentic learning opportunities, the integration of technology in teacher education, the personalization of learning, reconsidering the role of teachers, scaling teaching innovations, and teaching complex thinking.

The report concludes with a discussion of recent developments in educational technology, such as the idea of students using their own devices for learning, the Maker movement, 3D printing, adaptive learning technologies, digital badges, and wearable technology.