2 Resources Ed Tech Leaders Can Use to Plan for Emerging Tech, Trends and Challenges

The 2016 K-12 Horizon Report and toolkit provide an opportunity for communities to strategically plan for the future.

by / September 14, 2016

A new set of resources is now available for ed tech leaders, policymakers and others to use as they figure out where their schools should head next.

These two resources — the seventh annual K-12 Horizon Report and the first toolkit for school district leaders that goes with it — are designed to help education leaders see what could happen with education over the next five years and start conversations in their community about what they need to do to prepare for these changes.

Released on Wednesday, Sept. 14, the report's six trends, challenges and emerging technologies came out of panel discussions among 59 ed tech experts around the world who research emerging technologies and new media as members of the New Media Consortium. Meanwhile, the Consortium for School Networking helped put together a toolkit for its district technology leader members so they can take practical steps to plan for the future. With funding from the nonprofit Share Fair Nation, the two organizations are sharing these Creative Commons-licensed resources. 

When the Horizon Report first included a K-12 edition in 2009, the report mostly focused on emerging technology. But over the years, it's taken a broader look at what's happening in education with trends and challenges, then relating those to where emerging technology may be able to help. 

"We believe it's important to set a precedent that technology that's not in service of promoting better teaching and learning practices is just a set of devices," said Samantha Adams Becker, senior director of the NMC Horizon Project, and lead writer and researcher for the NMC Horizon Report series.

For example, the trend of rethinking how schools work fits well with makerspaces because schools are creating spaces where students can dream and do something, said Becker.

To help schools rethink how they operate, Share Fair Nation's co-CEO John Farnam said it's important for education leaders to invite industry representatives and other outsiders in to provide a different perspective on what school should look like. Keith Krueger, the CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, also said it's important to make sure that students and parents have equitable access to technology including high-speed Internet at home.

"We're talking about rethinking learning inside and outside," Krueger said, "and that includes making sure that parents, guardians and the public can be part of it."

The toolkit comes into play here by giving education leaders ideas about how to bring together community members who can learn more about these issues and share their perspective. They could have a panel discussion with experts or break people into groups to discuss questions including, "How can we evaluate the benefits of rethinking how our schools work?" A dedicated person in each group could use the worksheet included in the toolkit to identify ideas, suggestions for next steps and additional information that's needed. The toolkit also includes promotional material to promote the event and its results. 

Ultimately these organizations designed the report as a road map to let everyone know where they are in education, where they might be headed and how they can ask better questions. Meanwhile, the toolkit helps school district leaders facilitate activities and conversations at school board, Parent Teacher Association and Chamber of Commerce meetings.

Tanya Roscorla Former Managing Editor

Tanya Roscorla covered ed tech from 2009-2017.