What is on the horizon?
Posted February 20, 2015on:
This week there were at least two critiques on Horizon Reports following the release of the 2015 Higher Education report.
There is an underlying assumption that needs to be questioned: That edtech trends can be predicted with certainty of implementation and schedule. This is like saying you know where the horizon is. By the time you get to where you think it is, the horizon has moved.
The New Media Consortium reports make disclaimers against these of course, but how many people actually read the fine print? My guess is about as many as do the iTunes user agreement.
The basic methodology might also be misunderstood. The reports are often results of modified Delphi methods. Each set of experts or panels may be independent of another year’s report. These reports are not longitudinal studies, they are snapshots of thoughts. This could explain the lack of continuity.
Each panel is likely to have an agenda or include influential members with agendas. I hinted at this in Singapore’s first (and only?) report two years ago  . The main “sponsor” had an e-book agenda and it featured prominently in the report. But e-readers and slates replacing paper and unnecessarily heavy school bags remain a futuristic fantasy in the average Singapore school.
I do not disagree with the critiques Downes and Watters. I hope I have added to the pool of insights and shed a sliver of light on why there does not seem to be continuity.
These insights are important if Horizon Reports are taken from their descriptive domain and co-opted by administrators or policy makers to prescribe change. This has already happened with PISA scores and rankings. Such studies and reports are not gospel truth; they merely shed spotlights and laser points on large systemic issues.