Highlights Of The 2018 Horizon Report Of Higher Education Trends

Highlights Of The 2018 Horizon Report Of Higher Education Trends

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The annual trends report series by EdTech advocacy non-profit EDUCAUSE, Horizon, interviews experts on their 5-year vision for educational technologies, and their impact across segments. Originally called NMC Horizon Report, the current edition is slated to be the last one with the surname given the absorption of New Media Consortium by EDUCAUSE. In 2017, Moodle became an EDUCAUSE member with an intervention by Moodle CEO Martin Dougiamas. It is unclear if his answers are taking into account in the current report.

Last year’s edition claimed the following trends, challenges and technologies as being on track towards widespread adoption within one to five years’ time:

2018 EdTech going on 2023

Faithful to its 16-year running style, Horizon is organized in 6 key trends, 6 “significant” challenges and 6 developments “likely to impact teaching, learning and creative inquiry.” This time, they have been arranged by levels, as follows:

6 “Key Trends” accelerating higher education technology adoption

  • Short-term: “Measuring learning”; “Redesigning learning spaces”
  • Mid-term: OER; New forms of interdisciplinary studies
  • Long-term: “Advancing cultures of innovation;” Cross-institutional and cross-sectorial collaboration

6 “Significant Challenges” impending higher education technology adoption

  • Solvable: “Authentic learning experiences;” “Improving digital literacy”
  • Difficult: “Adapting organizational designs to the future of work;” “Advancing digital equity”
  • Complex to define, address (“Wicked”): Economic and political pressures; “Rethinking the Roles of Educators”

6 “Import Developments” in technology for higher education

  • 1 year or less: Analytics technologies; “Makerspaces”
  • 2 to 3 years: “Adaptive learning technologies;” Artificial Intelligence
  • 4 to 5 years: Mixed reality (AR, VR); Robotics

Don’t pay attention to the Horizon Report?

This time around, Horizons has included a 7-year perspective on their own foretelling. A welcome exercise of transparency, but one that might put expert surveys about the future into question, or at least reconsider the role they deserve in organizational strategy and policymaking. It shows that, for example:

  • Some trends appear intermittently without much progress: “Authentic learning experiences” or “Adaptive learning;” IoT.
  • Some challenges appear every year, its solution “just around the corner”: “Digital literacy,” “Digital equity,” “Artificial Intelligence.”
  • Concepts defined too vaguely (or just weirdly) to ascertain whether there has been progress: “Economic and political pressures,” “Embracing the need for radical change,” and again, “Authentic learning experiences.”
  • Many issues that are now part of the trade, but that never appeared in the report, or were barely mentioned without follow-through for years: “Insufficient metrics,” “New forms of scholarship,” MOOCs.

Since 2004, critical follow-up of the Horizon Report following every edition has been offered by EdTech writer, speaker and Columbia fellow Audrey Watters at

Download the 2018 NMC Horizon Report — Higher Education at EDUCAUSE.■

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