Archive for August, 2011

Since 2002 the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project has issued an annual report describing and predicting the impact of emerging technologies in the coming five years.  Libraries of all kinds, but particularly academic libraries use this report as a guide to planning for investments in new technology, training and initiatives that will help them to better serve their users.

Not surprisingly, the 2011 Horizon Report states that eBooks and mobile devices are moving closer to mainstream adoption for educational institutions in the near term.  In the report’s “second adoption horizon” (two to three years) augmented reality and game-based learning are seen as the two technologies most likely to influence post-secondary education.  Augmented reality layers information on top of a view of the normal world (typically on a mobile device).  For example students walking by a building on campus can sync their device to a positional signal and it will display information about the building (e.g. a directory of offices inside, when it was built, the architect, etc.).  Game based learning for individual students or small groups can be integrated into coursework.  Great potential lies in the ability to stimulate technology-supported collaboration, problem-solving and procedural thinking.

Looking still farther ahead, the report suggests that in four to five years, gesture-based computing and learning analytics will become more commonplace on campuses.  Gesture based computing is essentially “wearable technology” that responds to body motion instead of a keyboard or mouse for computer input.  Learning analytics uses data gathering tools to enable study of student engagement, performance and practice, with the goal of using this data to revise curricula, teaching and assessment in real time.  In other words, this is technology designed to stimulate and support very dynamic learning environments.

Academic libraries will no doubt be watching these trends and collaborating with faculty and instructors to review and evaluate the predictions described in the report, and then plan services around their findings.

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