Earlier this year, the New Media Consortium and the Educase Learning Initiative released The New Horizon Report, outlining which current and burgeoning technologies they feel will “impact education over the next five years.“

The report includes several “mega trends” in educational technology, including user-generated video (or “grassroots” video), mobile, collaborative web environments, as well as content mash-ups.

Trend #1: User-Generated Video & Content Mash-Ups

Mash-ups provide a huge amount of flexibility to both the instructor and the user to build new learning situations. A mash-up is “a website or web application that uses content from more than one source to create a completely new service (Wikipedia, 2006).” They combine separate, stand-alone technologies into a new application.

Content sharing tools, or “mash-ups” are providing learners the opportunity to socialize around the context of the content (text, video, images, audio), in terms of subject matter, production and commentary. This opportunity to be engaged socially is generating new content in and of itself. These experiences have become integrated into today’s use of everyday devices in the everyday lives of the students for whom we design.

Students can shoot video with either their mobile phone or camcorder, and then use free editing tools like Jumpcut to easily remix their video. They can also “grab” video created and contributed by someone else in the Jumpcut community that can be repurposed into new content and then posted on a blog, YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv or a myriad of other video-hosting sites. The Horizon Report predicts that this type of remix and reuse of video content “will fuel rapid growth among learning-focused organizations who want their content to be where the viewers are.

Trend #2: Collaboration & Social Networks

Critics of e-learning often characterize online classrooms as neutral spaces devoid of human connection, emotion, or interaction with instructors or peers.

However, effective use of social networking and media technologies provides educators and students with the ability to interject emotion in the online space, thereby providing opportunities for peers to make emotional connections with classmates, and create a community of practice just as they do in the ‘real time’ world of the brick and mortar classroom.

Social networks can also provide an outlet for students who are socially isolated or shy in the traditional classroom, a way connect, share ideas and collaborate with their peers.

Online collaboration, whether in a formal education-centric VLE or social networking environment provide vital avenues for students to build relationships with their peers, while simultaneously meeting the needs of their digital learning styles.

Trend #3: Mobile

The use of mobile technologies continues to grow and represents the next great frontier for learning. Increasingly we will continue to see academic and corporate research invest, design and launch new mobile applications, many of which can be used in a learning context.

The convergence of mobile and social technologies, on-demand content delivery, and early adoption of portable media devices by students provides academia with an opportunity to leverage these tools into learning environments that seem authentic to the digital natives filling the 21st Century classroom. Clearly, the spread of mobile technologies into both the cognitive and social spheres requires educators to reexamine and redefine our teaching and learning methods.

In order to create a better learning environments designed for the digital learning styles of Generation Y, there is a need to use strategies and instructional methods that support and foster motivation, collaboration and interaction.

Mobile technology plays a vital role in facilitating these mega-trends. Students can use their phones to connect with peers, make, edit and publish both photos and videos. The use of mobile devices are directly connected with the personal experiences and authentic use of technology students bring to the classroom.


We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” –Peter Drucker

In light of these socio-cultural changes, educators need to find ways to infuse the curriculum with digital learning styles by designing curriculum which integrates opportunities for student’s to use social media to collaborate and interact with their peers, as well as customize, create, and self-publish their own content as a means to achieve both short and long term learning goals.

Now more than ever, instructors must “keep abreast of change” and learn how to integrate these (and future) technology trends into their curriculum. You can download a complete copy of the 2008 Horizon Report and learn more about these trends via the links listed below.

Related Resources

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