Latest Trends in Educational Technology Use Identified in 2016 Horizon Report

2016 Horizon Report

The New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) have jointly released the NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition. This 13th edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education.

The report identifies six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology across three adoption horizons spanning over the next one to five years, giving campus leaders, educational technologists, and faculty a valuable guide for strategic technology planning. The report provides higher education leaders with in-depth insight into how trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership, and practice.

“The release of this report kicks off the 15th year of the NMC Horizon Project, which has sparked crucial conversations and progressive strategies in institutions all over the world,”says Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the NMC. “We are so appreciative of ELI’s continued support and collaboration. Together we have been able to regularly provide timely analysis to universities and colleges.”

“This year’s report addresses a number of positive trends that are taking root in higher education,” notes ELI Director Malcolm Brown. “More institutions are developing programs that enable students and faculty to create and contribute innovations that advance national economies, and they are also reimagining the spaces and resources accessible to them to spur this kind of creativity.”

[Watch the video summary]

Key Trends Accelerating Higher Education Technology Adoption

The NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition identifies “Advancing Cultures of Innovation” and “Rethinking How Institutions Work” as long-term impact trends that for years affected decision-making and will continue to accelerate the adoption of educational technology in higher education over the next five years. “Redesigning Learning Spaces” and the “Shift to Deeper Learning Approaches” are mid-term impact trends expected to drive technology use in the next three to five years; meanwhile, “Growing Focus on Measuring Learning” and “Increasing Use of Blended Learning” are short-term impact trends, anticipated to impact institutions for the next one to two years before becoming commonplace.

Significant Challenges Impeding Higher Education Technology Adoption

A number of challenges are acknowledged as barriers to the mainstream use of technology in higher education. “Blending Formal and Informal Learning” and “Improving Digital Literacy” are perceived as solvable challenges, meaning they are well-understood and solutions have been identified. “Competing Models of Education” and “Personalizing Learning” are considered difficult challenges, which are defined and well understood but with solutions that are elusive. Described as wicked challenges are “Balancing Our Connected and Unconnected Lives” and “Keeping Education Relevant.” Challenges in this category are complex to define, making them more difficult to address.

Important Developments in Educational Technology for Higher Education

Additionally, the report identifies bring your own device (BYOD) and learning analytics and adaptive learning as digital strategies and technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the near-term horizon of one year or less. Augmented and virtual reality technologies and makerspaces are seen in the mid-term horizon of two to three years; affective computing and robotics are seen emerging in the far-term horizon of four to five years.

2016 Horizon Report Topics

The subject matter in this report was identified through a qualitative research process designed by the NMC and collaboratively conducted by the NMC and ELI that engaged an international body of experts in higher education, technology, business, and other fields around a set of research questions designed to surface significant trends and challenges and to identify emerging technologies with a strong likelihood of adoption in higher education. The report details the areas in which these experts were in strong agreement.

Download the Report

EDUCAUSE 2014 Study of Students and Information Technology

Since 2004, EDUCAUSE has partnered with higher education institutions to investigate the technologies that matter most to undergraduate students. In 2014, the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research technology survey was sent to approximately 1.5 million students at 213 institutions, yielding 75,306 responses across 15 countries. This year’s findings are based on a stratified random sample of 10,000 U.S. respondents and shed light on a number of topics.

Study 2014 Infographic

General student technology experiences and expectations

  • Technology is embedded into students’ lives, and students are generally inclined to use and to have favorable attitudes toward technology. However, technology has only a moderate influence on students’ active involvement in particular courses or as a connector with other students and faculty.
  • Students’ academic use of technology is widespread but not deep. They are particularly interested in expanding the use of a few specific technologies.
  • Most students look online or to family or friends for technology support. The minority who use institutional help desks report positive experiences.

Anytime, anywhere access to learning that is enabled by device proliferation

  • More students own mobile devices now than ever. Although students rate network performance as generally good, projected increases in connected devices could soon challenge even the most robust campus networks.
  • Many students use mobile devices for academic purposes. Their in-class use is more likely when instructors encourage such use; however, both faculty and students are concerned about their potential for distraction.

Learning environments

  • More students than ever have experienced a digital learning environment. The majority say they learn best with a blend of online and face-to-face work.
  • Undergraduates value the learning management system (LMS) as critical to their student experience but rarely make full use of it. Today’s undergraduates want a mobile-friendly, highly personalized, and engaging LMS experience.
  • Most students support institutional use of their data to advise them on academic progress in courses and programs. Many of the analytic functions students seek already exist in contemporary LMSs.
  • Few undergraduates have taken a massive open online course (MOOC). Students still view traditional college degrees as the gold standard for résumés. Few students would include digital badges, e-portfolios, or competency creden- tials on their résumés.

Although technology is omnipresent in the lives of students, leveraging technology as a tool to engage students is still evolving. We know from looking at longitudinal data from past student studies that students still have a complex relationship with tech- nology; they recognize its value, but they still need guidance when it comes to using technology in meaningful and engaging ways for academics. Students are still ready to use their mobile devices more for academics, but we haven’t yet seen widespread application of this. Students also still prefer blended learning environments, and their expectations are increasing for these hybrid online/face-to-face experiences.

The following study materials and resources are available:

7 Steps for Choosing the Best Technology Tools for Your Teaching


In the decade now that I have spent supporting educators in the endeavors to teach using technology, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked by faculty for advice on how to choose the best technology tools for their teaching. With the seemingly endless selection of technology tools available, how do educators choose the right technology tools to incorporate into their teaching? If you are in the situation of considering a new technology tool in your teaching, here are 7 steps to take as you choose which tool may be best for you:

Step 1: Start with your objectives

It’s important to always start any conversation about technology selection with objectives. What is it that you and/or your students should be able to do? There are some great models available, such as Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy and SAMR, that can offer guidance as your craft and/or revise objectives that will form the basis for any decisions regarding technology decisions. Are you seeking to substitute, augment, modify, or redefine an existing teaching or learning activity? Make sure that it is clear from reviewing your objectives what your intended goals are.

Step 2: Survey your “tech landscape”

Once you have your goals and objectives clearly in mind, the next step is to take an inventory of your current technology use as well as look at your environment for incorporating the new technology. What tools are you and/or your students already using? What are you comfortable with? What is working? Keep in mind the adaage, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” and don’t discard an existing technology if it is the meeting your needs. What tools are already at your fingertips and/or perhaps provided/supported by your institution? What tools are frowned upon and/or blocked at your institution?

Step 3: Set your budget

How much are you and/or your students willing to spend on a tool? Do you need to stick with a free solution? Or, are you able to spend some money? Many tools take a “freemium” approach, meaning that they are available for use on a limited basis for free with additional features available for a fee.

Step 4: Sample available tools

Pick a few (5 or less) available options and try the tools yourself to see which you and/or your students like best, are easiest to use, and meet your needs. What are the pros & cons of each? What support is available? How does each integrate into the existing workflow and/or lesson?

Step 5: Select your tool

Eventually, you finally need to take the plunge and pick a tool to use. Don’t worry..you aren’t stuck using the tool forever 🙂 If you eventually change your mind down the road, you can always change the tool.

Step 6: Set parameters for use

Clarify for yourself and/or your students how the tool will and won’t be used. It’s at this point you may want to revisit your objectives to ensure that your plan for use meets your stated learning objectives. Are you using the right tool for the right problem?

Step 7: Scrutinize your choice

After you’ve thoroughly used the tool for a specified period of time (term, semester, etc.) reflect on your use of the tool? Did it meet your needs? What unexpected issues did you and/or your students encounter? Is it working well enough that you want to stick with it, or is it time to try something else? You’re not locked-in to continuing to use the tool if it isn’t meeting your needs.

There you have it…a seven-step approach to selecting a technology tool for your teaching. Leave a comment if you found these steps helpful or if you perhaps have additional suggestions to share with educators as they choose technology tools.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology

I came across a great post titled ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology‘ as well as an accompanying infographic by Mark Bates (see below) that highlights the profile of an educators who are effectively using technology in their teaching.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology

The habits mentioned include:

  1. They always start with the why.
  2. They are malleable and can easily adapt.
  3. They embrace change.
  4. They share, share, and then share some more.
  5. They think win-win-win-win.
  6. They are extremely thorough and think two steps ahead.
  7. They actively care.

What other habits would you add to this list?

Digital Faculty: Professors and Technology, 2012

Professors are excited about many of the trappings of digital teaching and scholarship. Others increase their work loads, stress them out, and scare them, a survey by Inside Higher Ed and Babson Survey Research Group shows.

A PDF can be downloaded here; the text of the report can be viewed here.

Read more here.