2015 Horizon Report

The Horizon Report is an annual publication charting emerging technologies for teaching and learning. It aims to provide expert research and analysis to educators to help them build upon the innovation happening at their institutions. In this post we review the Horizon Report – 2015 Higher Education Edition.

Making predictions about the future of Technology Enhanced Learning is difficult. The further ahead one tries to predict the less accuracy we expect.

Looking back…

If we briefly review the 4-5 year time-to-adoption predictions of the 2010 report, we get an idea of how much credence to place in their predictions. This report predicted that by now we would be using Gesture Based Computing and Visual Data Analysis.

Gesture Based Computing

The full realization of the potential of gesture-based computing is still several years away, especially for education; but we are moving ever closer to a time when our gestures will speak for us, even to our machines.

While iPads, Microsoft Surface, and the Wii were common place at the time there was an expectation that Gesture Based Computing would develop further and that such interactions would evolve to be incorporated into more everyday use.

It is fair to say that while there is still potential for such technologies to become more pervasive they have not yet done so and that the time-to-adoption prediction was too ambitious.

Visual Data Analysis

Visual data analysis blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to tap the extraordinary ability of humans to see patterns and structure in even the most complex visual presentations.

Infographics have become a significantly more prevalent way of presenting information across various media, whether it be broadcast or online. This has been paralleled by an increased depth and breadth of technologies that facilitate the presentation of data in visually appealing formats. While this prediction is accurate in a wider-sense, the extent to which it has been adopted in higher education – perhaps explicitly its use in learning materials – can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Its use is certainly not yet pervasive.

Looking forward…

The 2015 report introduces its content as:

Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of universities and colleges, and detailed in succinct, non-technical, and unbiased presentations. Each has been tied to essential questions of relevance, policy, leadership, and practice.

Each of these sets of trends, challenges, and developments are divided into three categories. The trends and developments utilise time-to-adoption categories, while the challenges are categorised by how easy they are to achieve.


  • Short-term (1-2 years)
    • Increasing use of blended learning
    • Redesigning learning spaces
  • Mid-term (3-4 years)
    • Growing focus on measuring learning
    • Proliferation of Open Educational Resources
  • Long-term (5+ years)
    • Advancing cultures of change and innovation
    • Increasing cross-institution collaboration


  • Solvable
    • Blending formal and informal learning
    • Improving digital literacy
  • Difficult
    • Personalised learning
    • Teaching complex thinking
  • Wicked
    • Competing models of education
    • Rewards for teaching


  • Near-term (1 year or less)
    • Bring your own device (BYOD)
    • Flipped classroom
  • Mid-term (2-3 years)
    • Makerspaces
    • Wearable technologies
  • Far-term (4-5 years)
    • Adaptive learning technologies
    • The Internet of things

Evaluating predictions…

Each of these 18 areas deserves to be looked at in more depth, both in terms of the Horizon Report’s analysis and their relevance for the International Programmes community.

We aim to review each of these 18 areas in the future and would welcome Guest posts if any members of our community are able to provide their particular insights.

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