We're Looking for Examples for the 2010 K12 Horizon Report! One of the most valuable parts of each report is the list of links to projects that demonstrate actual educational uses of each of the six technologies featured in the report. If you have, or know of, a real-world example that uses one of the technologies below in schools, especially if there is information on the web describing the project, please use our project submission form to tell us about it.

Only projects that meet the following criteria can be included in the report:
  • The project is real and happening today, or is in the planning stage but is very well articulated.
  • The project is directly related to one of the six topics featured in this edition of the report (see below).
  • Projects that have a clear presence on the web -- a site, or at least a page, describing what it is and who is doing it -- are more likely to be featured than projects that do not, although projects with no web presence may be mentioned in the text.

How to Get Your Project Considered for the Report

  1. Read the six topic descriptions below and choose the one that your project fits under. (If it doesn't fit any of these, it won't be considered, though we're sure it's a great project!)
  2. Click any link to the project submission form.
  3. Fill out the form. Be sure to provide all required information. The form takes about two minutes to complete.
  4. That's it!

The six topics for the 2010 K-12 report are as follows:

Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Cloud Computing
The cloud is the term for the myriad of servers and other computers, often located in enormous data centers, that power the Internet. New cloud applications harness the unused resources of these computers to distribute applications, storage, and even processing power to users in ways that are increasingly useful, low cost, and ubiquitous. Applications like Gmail use the cloud as their platform, in the way that programs on a desktop computer use that single computer as a platform. Cloud-based applications use storage space and computing resources from many available machines as needed. “The cloud” denotes any group of computers used in this way. Improved infrastructure has made the cloud robust and reliable; as usage grows, the cloud is fundamentally changing our notions of computing and communication.

Many emerging technologies are supported in some way by the cloud: collaborative environments and tools like Ning, PageFlakes, Voicethread, and Google Apps are cloud applications. A wide variety of online communication tools are supported by cloud resources and many, many personal web tools are cloud-based. Data storage is cheap in these environments — pennies per gigabyte — so cheap that it is often provided in surprising quantities for free. Specialized applications like Flickr and YouTube provide options for hosting and sharing media; tools for creating multimedia projects, like Prezi and Vuvox, live in the cloud; and most social platforms, including Facebook, do as well. To the end user, the cloud is invisible, and the technology that supports the applications does not matter — the fact that the applications are always available, no matter what device is used to access them, is key.

Know of a K-12 project that uses Cloud Computing? Use the project submission form and tell us!

Collaborative Environments
Collaborative environments are online spaces — often cloud-based — where the focus is making it easy to collaborate and working in groups, no matter where the participants may be. As the typical educator’s network of contacts has grown to include colleagues who might live and work across the country, or indeed anywhere on the globe, it has become common for people who are not physically located near each other to collaborate on projects. In classrooms as well, joint projects with students at other schools or in other countries are more and more commonplace as strategies to expose learners to a variety of perspectives.

Wikis, which allow many authors to add content to a web site, were one of the first technologies in this category, and it is increasingly rare to find a collaboration that does not use a wiki in one form or another. The largest example is Wikipedia, which through the efforts of thousands of contributors, has become the world’s de facto encyclopedia. One of the largest examples of an online environment built expressly to enable collaboration is Google Apps, which includes a set of commonly used productivity tools, but configured in a way to make it easy to work in teams.

The essential attribute of the technologies in this set is that they make it easy for people to share interests and ideas, work on joint projects, and easily monitor collective progress. All of these are needs common to student work, research, collaborative teaching, writing and authoring, development of grant proposals, and more. The bar for widespread participation is very low, since the software to support virtual collaboration is low cost or free, and available via a web browser.

Know of a K-12 project that uses Collaborative Environments? Use the project submission form and tell us!

Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

Educational Gaming
The interest in educational gaming has accelerated considerably in recent years, driven by clear successes in military and industrial training. The US military, in particular, is using games and simulations to refine skills across the range of their training needs, from basic training to field medicine, to IED removal, to advanced operational strategies. Developers and researchers are working in every area of educational gaming, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend them selves to refining team and group skills. At the low end of game technology, there are literally thousands of ways games can be applied in learning contexts. Role-playing and other forms of simulated experiences have broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines, and are another rich area for exploration.

Still a few years away, but increasingly interesting, is the notion of creating massively multiplayer online (MMO) games expressly for learning, along the lines of games created for entertainment (e.g. World of Warcraft) or for both training and entertainment, such as America’s Army, created by the US military. MMOs bring many players together in activities that require them to work together to solve problems; they can be collaborative or competitive. They are often goal-oriented in ways that tie to a storyline or theme, but high levels of play often require outside learning and discovery. What makes this category of games especially compelling and effective is the multiple ways participants can be engaged — with other players, with the “back story,” in social contexts, and more — and the time they are willing to spend on task pursing the goals of the games.

Know of a K-12 project that uses Educational Gaming? Use the project submission form and tell us!

Mobiles as a category have proven more interesting and more capable with each passing year. The mobile market today has more than 4 billion subscribers, more than two-thirds of whom live in developing countries. Well over a billion new phones are produced each year, a flow of continuous enhancement and innovation that is unprecedented in modern times. The fastest-growing sales segment belongs to smart phones — which means that a massive and increasing number of people all over the world now own and use a computer that fits in their hand and is able to connect to the network wirelessly from virtually anywhere. Tens of thousands of applications designed to support a wide range of tasks on virtually any smart-phone operating system are readily available, with more entering the market all the time. These mobile computing tools have become accepted aids in daily life, giving us on-the-go access to a wide range of tools for business, video/audio capture and basic editing, sensing and measurement, geolocation, social networking, personal productivity, references, just-in-time learning — indeed, virtually anything that can be done on a desktop — and arguably more.

In developed countries, it is quite common for young people to carry their own mobile devices. In the upper grades, it is not at all unusual, indeed commonplace, to find schools in which every student carries a mobile, even if they are not allowed to use them during class. The unprecedented evolution of these devices continues to generate great interest, and their increasing capabilities make them more useful with each new generation of devices. The ability to run third-party applications represents a fundamental change in the way we regard mobiles and opens the door to a myriad of uses for education, entertainment, productivity, and social interaction.

Know of a K-12 project that uses Mobiles? Use the project submission form and tell us!

Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

Augmented Reality
The term augmented reality (AR) was first coined in 1990 by former Boeing researcher Tom Caudell, who used it to describe ways in which digital information could be overlaid in real time with the visual information we are used to seeing in the real world. (Heads-up displays in aircraft were an early outgrowth of the technology.) While the capability to deliver that sort of augmented reality experience has been around for decades, it has up to recently always required a very expensive customized system, or special equipment. Advances in mobile devices as well as in the different technologies that combine the real world with virtual information have led to augmented reality applications that are as near to hand as any other application on a laptop or a smart phone.

Emerging augmented reality tools to date have begun to overlay marketing, amusement, or location-based information via heads-up displays or real-time video, and new applications continue to appear as the technology becomes more popular. As they have, augmented reality is now poised to enter the mainstream in the consumer sector. Learning applications, such as the ability to overlay information over a video image of an historical site, or an artifact in a museum are not far behind.

Know of a K-12 project that uses Augmented Reality? Use the project submission form and tell us!

Thin Film Displays
Computer displays continue to develop in ways that are enabling whole new categories of devices. Flexible screens that can wrap around curved surfaces are in prototype, as are small, very thin interactive screens like the Plastic Logic Reader. Thin film screen technology allows displays to be literally printed onto plastic, along with the batteries that power them, enabling the sorts of live motion displays previously only hinted about in Harry Potter movies. Already in the marketplace is “video in print,” very thin flexible displays that can be easily inserted into popular magazines; CBS and Entertainment Weekly were first to demonstrate this new technology in the fall of 2009. When the technology is developed fully it will enable integrated interactive display devices that combine input and output in a single interface, finally realizing the full potential of electronic paper.

Thin film displays, because of their flexibility and low cost, are certain to become part of everyday educational materials like periodicals, textbooks, and imaging tools. Manufacturers like Sony, Phillips, and Samsung are working on bringing flexible and ultra-thin screens to market. Based on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology, in which the pixels emit their own light, these sorts of screens can be extremely thin. Since no separate light source is required, OLED screens can easily be placed into all manner of devices. While perhaps best thought of as an enabling technology at this point, with learning applications still some years away, the displays thin film technology enables are so cheap and so easily manufactured that whole new categories of devices using them are likely.

Know of a K-12 project that uses Thin Film Displays? Use the project submission form and tell us!