Laura Norbury Horizon Report
The Horizon report is a part
of the bigger horizon project. It aims to identify and explore trends that are
likely to have an influence on the future of teaching and learning. The global initiative
allows educators around the world to collaborate on new and exciting strategies.
The project allows the best and brightest of the worlds educators to create
some next generation content for an incoming generation of increasingly technologically
It can be said that without
progress the world would be at a standstill and while progress for the sake of
progress ought to be prohibited the horizon project prevents this by
identifying key trends before they even start to progress. By predicting key
trends ahead of time educators can prepare for them before they start to happen
thus creating a culture of innovation and experience. Two of the Key Trends
reported in the Horizon 2017 report are the evolution of online learning and collaborative
learning. By having researched these areas educational experts can ensure that
the roll out of these new methods is as smooth and efficient as possible.
One of the most interesting
and most important trends identified by the horizon report 2017 was the
evolution of online learning. The evolution of online learning is, of course,
an ongoing process. While it started off, along with the internet, as a source
of nearly unlimited information, it has now evolved into a nearly essential
part of learning in higher education. Online learning in higher education can
range from anything to a Learning Management System (LMS)/ Virtual Learning
Environment (VLE) where lecturers can place notes to adaptive algorithm based
learning where students are tested on their weaknesses.
Online learning also allows
for ease of asynchronous learning in a higher education situation whereby the
student can go back over course materials at his or her own pace. While this
was possible before it was not nearly as high quality. Outside of email, there
was very little interaction between students and lecturers between classes but
now online learning allows for this.
In addition to being a source
of information and engagement online learning has also evolved as a gateway to
education all over the world. As internet user ship grows globally so does education
& training facilities. Online learning enables millions more people from
every continent and background to train and upskill. Murray Turoff writes that;
most courses are available in digital formats as well as on campuses,
geographic monopolies and barriers that have sustained thousands of different
colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world will weaken.” (Hiltz &
more online learning access can only help close the economic gap between the
west and less developed parts leading to a better quality of life and increased
To keep up with the
increasing standards of online learning, advanced Learning Management Systems
(LMS) are being created. According to the 2017 Horizon report Next Generation
Learning Management Systems are predicted to be updated in two to four years’
A Learning Management system is:
“A learning management system (LMS) is a
software application or Web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess
a specific learning process. …A learning management system provides an
instructor with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student
participation, and assess student performance” (Tech Target, 2016)
It differs from a VLE in that
its main purpose is for training rather than education. A VLE can function as
an LMS so it is very common for a LMS with VLE integrated to be used in higher
education. A common example of a LMS and VLE hybrid is Moodle because of the
way it is used to not only provide content but to teach it also.
Using these next generation
LMS, students can access learning content from any device at any time. They can
also complete assessments and communicate with lecturers. Some software also
has learning analytics built in that will track student’s usage that the
lecturers can then monitor. The use of LMS is slowing bringing the use of text books
in the class room down. This is a benefit to everyone as it is cheaper and
information can be updated much easier.
LMS has become a hub for
teacher-student engagement and as this is very beneficial to the learning
process it provides higher quality education across the board. LMS also allows
for course content to be readily available to the student. This is much better
than the older “taking down notes off the board” system as it saves time and
allows for higher quality notes. As well as notes being available there are a
lot of extra reading materials such as links to articles, diagrams, multimedia
presentations and video content that the student can look at in their own time.
The abundance of content allows for a new culture of learning. With the readily
availability of content now even the laziest of students has the means of
passing their classes.
Following on from the success
of the early LMS systems, education institutes have begun rolling out an algorithm
based approach to teach students online called adaptive learning. The Horizon report
shows that since 2012 there has been a steady increase in adaptive learning.
Adaptive learning can be described as:
computer-based and/or online educational system that modifies the presentation
of material in response to student performance. Best-of-breed systems capture
fine-grained data and use learning analytics to enable human tailoring of
responses. The associated learning management systems… provide comprehensive
administration, documentation, tracking and reporting progress, and user
management.” (Dreambox Learning, 2014)
What this means is that by implementing adaptive learning students now
have access to an online environment that allocate learning resources to each
student based on his or her needs. Adaptive learning uses algorithms to tailor
make each lesson to the specific student. For example, if a student takes an
adaptive learning based test and is having trouble with a specific section of
the material the system will then simplify and reiterate that information to
the student. When the system is happy the student fully understands this
section of the course it will let the student move on.
adaptive approach to online learning can be broken down into three main areas;
the Lecturer Model interface, the Student Model interface and the Instructional
The Expert model contains all
the information that needs to be taught. The model could contain just the
information needed or it could have additional practical’s and tutorials to go
with it. The more information and guidance included in the expert model the
more information the better the overall system will be.
The student model is the way
of describing the tailored approach. In essence, the student model is the set
of questions and information given to each student. It uses the information
from the expert model and uses it to teach the course to each and every
student. It has no definite structure and will shape itself over time to
coincide with the students abilitys.
The Instructional model is
how the information is how the information is conveyed to the student. It uses
multimedia to convey information to the student. The educational information
from the expert model and the data from the student model defines what way
information will be shown to the student. For example a struggling student
repeating the same section of a course may be shown a video in an effort to try
a new way of learning that is better suited to that student.
might be called different names depending on the system used but one thing
every system has in common is that all models are dependent on each other.
giving both the student and the system the means of success and the ability to
work at one’s own pace the education received is of the highest standard.
Adaptive learning in is newest form is said to be rolled out in higher
education institutions in one to two years.
important trend discussed in the 2017 Horizon report is collaborative learning.
Collaborative learning is:
“an educational approach to
teaching and learning that involves groups of learners working together to
solve a problem, complete a task, or
create a product.” (Laal & Ghodsi , 2012)
Collaborative learning can take
shape as either peer- to-peer or large groups. It takes the approach that “two
heads are better than one”. Collaborative learning usually takes place after
some introduction to course materials. The students are then grouped and
instructed to discuss the information that they have just learned or perhaps
solve a problem. Groups will give opinions, clarify misconceptions and even
teach each other.
The introduction of technology
has only brought the collaborative learning system forward. Mobile technologies
open up new channels for communication allowing for students to study collaboratively
on the go. It has also he
By engaging in peer to peer
collaborative learning students are more likely to soak in information from their
own peer group. Pupils are able to find solutions to problems by working as a
team which is not only increasing their grades but also their teamwork and
social skills which allows for an education that cannot be learned by reading
One of the world leaders in collaborative
learning software is SMART. Smart technologies are used in over 15 million
class rooms and lecture halls world-wide. They describe themselves as “a
world leader in simple and intuitive solutions that enable more natural
collaboration…. An innovator in interactive touch technologies and software
that inspire collaboration in… education” (SMART Technologies, 2016) Their “Smart Suite”
uses Google Education to help take student led learning and co-creation to the
The best outcome from collaborative
learning is that all students have been introduced to new information and
points of view. It does this by teaching students how to “Assimilate
multiple views to deepen knowledge and promote critical thinking…, Foster
individual accountability to the team…, Develop independent learning strategies”
(Curtin Learning and Teaching, 2015)
It can most certainly be said
that discussion and constructive criticism only allows for better quality
learning and innovation. Collaborative learning also shows a more realistic
approach and helps stop the students from being overloaded with information. It
has been a big help to people in third world countries where it may not always
be possible to have resources on hand.
Mobile learning has done a
lot to increase the superiority of collaborative learning. Mobile learning is
simply the use of mobile smart devices to access information anytime and
anywhere. Mobile learning is not strictly confined too searching information on
the internet. It can take place in a number of different scenarios such as
listening to a podcast, watching an instructional video or calling a class mate
for discussion. With smartphones and internet connectivity everywhere nowadays
the possibilities for mobile learning are truly endless. The ever-increasing
processing power and overall computing capabilities of smart devices means that
mobile learning based programmes can be made even more powerful with great
benefit to the user. The Horizon project reports that new mobile learning technologies
will be in place in one year or less.
In a classroom situation,
mobile learning can be used collaboratively by sharing screens, correcting classmate’s
online assignment submissions and online mind mapping. Another really useful
tool for mobile collaborative learning is webinars. Webinars are online
discussion that can be used to have a discussion. It works as a great way for
students to study outside of class time.
One of the most highly
regarded forms of mobile and online collaboration is forum sites. If a student
is stuck they ask a question and contributors will answer. The website could be
one just for members of the class or one open to the whole internet. The
benefits of these websites are that the person who gets the answer now has
their problem solved and has gained new knowledge and also the person who
answered the question gets to strengthen their knowledge. Common examples of
these online forums are stack overflow, boards.ie and yammer.
Mobile Learning for studying collaboratively
is essential to students in the 21st century. A study conducted by
Hanover Education and McGraw-Hill showed that “over 2,600 US college
students, nearly two thirds reported using their smartphones to study” (MCGraw-Hill,
Some students like to use GoogleDocs to
create notes in a shared file, all in real time. This way all students have up
to date notes and they can highlight or point out errors to each other.
A study by the Turkcell Academy
has shown that in 50,000 employees, both male and female those who had been
trained by mobile learning techniques helped them “advance their skills and gain
high-level positions.” (West, 2015)
is also transforming the lives of those in rural Africa. There is an eLearning
boom happening in Africa across the board but in higher education too. African
Education institutes are rolling out mobile based “ICT programmes to improve teacher
training in rural areas in Mozambique and Malawi and using ICT to improve both
access to, and the quality of, education for refugees.” (eLearning Africa, 2017). This is only
helping stimulate the global economy and technical literacy.
The uses of mobile learning
really are endless, especially when students are able to make their own content
and share it with the class or even the entire college.
In conclusion, the horizon
report really does show a bright future for higher education. With new
technologies being created every day the possibilities of what can be achieved
in just a few short years are endless.
With online earning evolving
every single day who knows what the future holds. State of the art LMS’s will
bring forward new way of gathering and distributing information directly to
learners through a wealth of different mediums. Learners will also have a
tailor-made approach to practical work in the form of algorithm based adaptive
learning. This is being predicted by the horizon report, to be particularity
useful in the areas of maths and computing but with the rapidly advancing
technology perhaps someday it will be applicable to all courses.
Methods of Collaborative
learning has been around since the 18th century but show no signs of
slowing down. Mobile technologies only increase the ways in which we can learn
collaboratively. Students can work together no matter where they are in the
world with thanks to the internet. As digital literacy improves more and more
with each passing year the online approach to collaborative learning can only
grow with new ideas from this next generation.
The horizon report truly
shows that education is moving forward to reflect the new technological age
we’re living in. The Horizon initiative allows education to progress and
surpass boundaries that were not even thought possible just a few years ago. In
essence, without a horizon to look to the world will truly be stuck in the dark
Curtin Learning and Teaching, 2015. Collaborative
Available at: https://clt.curtin.edu.au/teaching_learning_practice/student_centred/collaborative.cfm
2014. Adaptive Learning. Online
Available at: http://www.dreambox.com/adaptive-learning
2017. Germany highlights support for digital learning in Africa. 20 October.
Hiltz, S. R. &
Turoff, M., 2005. Communications of the ACM, Education Goes Digital: The
Evolution of Online Learning and the Revolution in Higher Education. s.l.:s.n.
Laal , M. & Ghodsi
, S. M., 2012. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. In: Benefits of
collaborative learning. s.l.:s.n., p. 486.
MCGraw-Hill, 2016. Learning
Available at: https://www.mheducation.com
2016. SMART Receives 2016 EDDIE Award for Best Multi-Subject Collaborative
Learning Software. Online
Available at: https://home.smarttech.com/en/about-us/news/media-releases/smart-receives-2016-eddie-award
Tech Target, 2016. Learning
Managment System. Online
Available at: http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/learning-management-system
West, D. M., 2015.
Center For Technology At Brookings. Connected learning: How mobile
technology can improve education, December.