2016 NMC Horizon Report K-12 Schools

2016 NMC Horizon Report K-12 Schools

Each year educational technology leaders and teachers eagerly await the release of the latest “Horizon Report”, published by New Media Consortium (NMC).  It highlights key technologies which we can expect to see more of in the short, medium and long-term in schools.

Based on research from a collective of 55 experts it is literally a “what’s on the horizon” with learning technologies document to give us an awareness of the near future in regards to education and technology.

It’s also used by various vendors to leverage the products which fit into the predictions of the report. So you get a heads-up on what you can expect to be contacted about from your edtech sales-people. 🙂

Download the 2016 Horizon Report for K-12 Schools

Download Horizon Report 2016 Digital Toolkit

Briefly, you can expect to find Key Trends, Significant Challenges and Important Developments outlined in the Horizon Report:

  • Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in K-12 Education
    • Long term (5+ years) , mid-term (3-5 yrs) and short-term trends (1-2yrs) which they predict
      • 2016 – Long – Redesigning Learning Spaces, Rethinking How Schools Work
      • 2016 – Mid – Collaborative Learning, Deeper Learning Approaches
      • 2016 – Short – Coding as Literacy, Students as Creators
  • Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in K-12 Education
    • Solvable, Difficult, Wicked
      • 2016 – Solvable – Authentic Learning Experiences, Rethinking Roles of Teachers
      • 2016 – Difficult – Advancing Digital Equity, Scaling Teaching Innovations
      • 2016 – Wicked – Achievement Gap, Personalising Learning
  • Important Developments in Educational Technology for K-12 Education
    • what we can expect to see adopted in schools in the next year; 2-3 years and 4-5 years
      • 2016 – Adoption 1 Year or Less: Maker Spaces and Online Learning
      • 2016 – Adoption 2 – 3 Years: Robotics and Virtual Reality
      • 2016 – Adoption 4 – 5 Years: Artificial Intelligence and Wearable Technology

Usually it’s no surprise for those immersed in learning technologies to see the predictions being made. Their predicted timelines can be interesting and sometimes it’s what’s not on the lists which gets your attention!

Slideshare presentation – Release of NMC/CoSN Horizon Report

How is the Horizon Report useful for schools?

The Horizon Report is a useful document to support educational technology leaders in sharing with school and district leaders evidence for technology adoption.

This year the developments they predict and timeline to adoption:

  • Adoption 1 Year or Less:
    • Maker Spaces
    • Online Learning
  • Adoption 2 – 3 Years
    • Robotics
    • Virtual Reality
  • Adoption 4 – 5 Years
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Wearable Technology

Makerspaces Overview

“Makerspaces are informal workshop environments located in community facilities or education institutions where people immerse themselves in creative making and tinkering activities. While many makerspaces contain sophisticated tools and technologies, they are not necessary to reap the learning benefits of making. The rise of makerspaces in education can be understood by examining the valuable skills cultivated during handson activities, including problem-solving, critical thinking, patience, and resilience. Developing these aptitudes through creative play helps students become better equipped to meet the needs of the future workplace. The maker movement and makerspaces are closely related to other educational trends such as collaborative learning, project-based learning, and student-directed learning. By participating in making activities, learners can identify new passions and become more motivated as they connect.”

(Horizon Report 2016 K-12 Schools, p36)

Online Learning Overview

“Online learning in schools, in the forms of blended learning, has been on teachers’ radars since it was featured in the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 K-12 Edition. Some attribute the acceleration of online learning to widespread 1:1 deployment and the impact of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement. THE Journal predicts that over the next two to three years, every student in the US will be equipped with a computing device. With greater technology access, they assert that online learning is already a daily activity in many US schools, particularly for creating digital artifacts, accessing open educational resources, and leveraging adaptive learning tools. In developing countries such as Rwanda, Costa Rica, and India, the global initiative One Laptop Per Child aims to increase access to online learning opportunities.”

(Horizon Report 2016 K-12 Schools, p38)

Robotics Overview

“Governments around the world are devising STEM education strategies that prioritize the inclusion of robots and robotics activities. The Queensland government in Australia, for example, recently mandated the addition of robotics to the school curriculum, while the South Korean government piloted a seminal program where robots teach students English. Major governmentfunded organizations are also investing in initiatives that usher in the next generation of robotics engineers.”

(Horizon Report 2016 K-12 Schools, p41)

Virtual Reality Overview

“Virtual reality delivers immersive, simulated worlds, enabling complete focus on content without distractions. Students can engage in new situations and activities in realistic settings, fostering greater knowledge retention than textbook learning. A compelling method for storytelling, VR allows users to feel the experience throughout their bodies. Major investments are being made in prerecorded VR content for entertainment and sports, marketing, and education. Goldman Sachs recently estimated that virtual and augmented reality entertainment revenue will reach $3.2 billion by 2025, while the education sector will attract 15 million users.”

(Horizon Report 2016 K-12 Schools, p42)

Artificial Intelligence Overview

“Many students may not be aware of their encounters with AI as it is embedded in adaptive learning platforms, in which intelligent software personalizes learning experiences based on how each student is responding to prompts and progressing through videos and readings in virtual environments. As students spend more time with the platform, the machine gets to know them better — just as a teacher or classmate would — allowing it to deliver more tailored content and recommendations over time. The adaptive learning solution Cognii, for example, leverages AI and natural language processing to identify knowledge gaps in K-12 students through short essay responses and provide real-time guidance towards concept mastery. Ultimately, adaptive platforms conduct individual assessments and deliver tailored content and support, emphasizing subject areas where students need more work to achieve mastery.”

(Horizon Report 2016 K-12 Schools, p44)

Wearable Technology Overview

“Companies including Apple, Samsung, and Google have popularized wearable technology products that allow people to monitor data and accomplish tasks. Virtual reality-enabled headsets, a major subset of this category, are covered elsewhere in this report. CCS Insight anticipates that by 2020, the global wearable technology market will grow to $34 billion, with 411 million devices sold. As wearables become more sophisticated, consumers may find increased location-specific personalization based on user behavior patterns. Field leaders also predict that the future of wearables will move toward implantables, or devices directly imbedded in human bodies.”

(Horizon Report 2016 K-12 Schools, p46)

5 Cool VR apps for Google Cardboard

5 Cool VR apps for Google Cardboard


You’ve heard of VR right?  Virtual reality – the experience (at the moment) of viewing a movie which is presented through a headset in a way that you can look around as though you are in the setting.  With headphones and sound you can start getting tricked that it’s more real than it is…..

Google Cardboard is a low cost, cheap as kitset you can buy which enables you to use your smartphone and some folded up cardboard to create a VR Headset, download some VR apps, and get into some virtual reality.

I picked up some cardboard headsets on ebay.com.au for $1.99 each

So once your cardboard headsets arrive you just put them together, download a few VR apps and off you go.


Well, it took me about 30 minutes to put the first cardboard goggles together – Because they were missing a piece! Once I realised that I requested a refund from the seller and in about 10 minutes had the other set build.

One thing that puzzled me was the magnets that came with it. I had no idea what the heck they were for. Google. Turns out the magnets work with the phone’s magnetometer to act as a button with the headset, so head movements can act like button taps.

And lets be honest here – its $2 worth of cardboard so don’t expect anything amazing. Make some modifications with a bit of sticky tape and rubber bands where you need to!


How does Google Cardboard VR work?

Google cardboard works by putting your phone the right distance away from your eyes so that the lenses can focus it – and with the split screen viewing the image takes on a 3D appearance. Think Viewmaster if you grew up when I did. But movies…..

Developers have made a bunch of apps containing or linking to movies to give you a taste of Virtual reality using Google cardboard – or other VR headsets.

5 Cool VR Apps to Use with Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard app

It’d be wrong not to look at the Google cardboard app itself.   It’s got a few of the same demo’s as Within mentioned below, but is a good introduction to using the Cardboard VR system.



Virtual Speech VR

Virtual Speech VR lets you choose different settings to practice public speaking in. Public hall, Boardroom or interview – plus expect more to come.  There are options to animate the audience so there is some natural movement and background noise as well.  Fairly realistic looking Im sure it could help someone with a really speaking anxiety to get more used to speaking in public.



InMind VR

Nivral offers a growing list of VR apps – the first, InMind VR lets you experience a scientific-educational activity where you travel inside a human brain on a rollercoaster-like ride zapping bad neurons! This VR app is probably a good starter one where users get a taste of many of the expected VR experiences.  There’s also InCell VR…


Within VR

Within VR provides a series of short VR movie experiences, some of which can also be found in Youtube’s 360 Video Hub. Some cool movies here and easy app to use. What attracted me most of all was U2’s 360 VR version of Song for Someone!




Star Wars – Jakku Spy

Yeah Im also a sucker for Star Wars. You may already have the Star Wars app on your phone, and inside that you’ll find Jakku Spy which is a VR activity.  There’s a lot to download, but this may be the VR you’re looking for.  Use the force in your role as a Resistance fighter.



I realised after publishing this post that I hadn’t included the compulsory Rollercoaster VR app!

Check out Rollercoaster VR by Fibrum, which has cool scenes including jungle and water. Fun times. But you only get 4 free rides, then its $2.99……..


app: OneNote

app: OneNote

OneNote app icon1 Minute Introduction to OneNote

OneNote is a notetaking tool included in Microsoft Office and now available on your web browser or as a mobile app for android and iOS. When using Onedrive you can sync it across computer and mobile devices to record notes which can include text, images, audio, video.  Notes are organised into Sections of a Notebook. You can setup any number of Notebooks.

Introductory video from Office 365 (1:16)

My Use of Onenote

Ive been using Evernote Premium since it came out around 2008/2009 and still use it for my personal notes on various devices.

But I started using Onenote in 2016 for work and it’s now my main tool outside of email. Onenote is software from Microsoft which enables me to create digital Notebooks which can contain Sections, each section can be made up of any number of Pages.

Pages can contain, Text, Images, recorded Audio or Video, and are saved instantly as I work. I can move Pages between Sections or Sections between Notebooks.  I can even share Notebooks with other Office 365 users.

What does the OneNote app do?

The OneNote app offers me the core features of the full desktop version of OneNote which makes it great to record notes on my iPhone or iPad when getting out the laptop is too much trouble. Because my OneNote notebook files are stored on OneDrive in the Cloud the data syncs and when other devices running OneNote are connected OneNote data is synced, so everything stays up to date.

How can I use the OneNote app?

For my work I currently have around 7 Notebooks on various topics relating to my Role. Each Notebook has a number of Sections and those Sections contain Pages. For example one Notebook titled “Digital Tools” has content on various software and apps that I can share with others when they ask me what something is and how they could use it.

I have my Digital Tools notebook organised into Sections named Social Media, Video and Robotics and then each section contains relevant Pages, for example the Social Media section has pages on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram.

OneNote structure

An example of a OneNote Notebook/Section/Page structure


When I open the OneNote app on my iPhone (below) I can access this notebook and its contents, but the view and features are obviously different because of the device.


OneNotes iOS app view

OneNote Notebook, Section and Page view on iOS app

One of the great things I use a lot is the iPhone’s camera to add photos of presentation slides during a workshop or presentation. After taking the photo in OneNote you have the option to crop the image by dragging handles to the image corners – OneNote then does it’s best to align the image flat. If its a Whiteboard photo just tap the “Whiteboard” button and watch the magic happen…..

Video: OneNote iPad app (33:16)

Sharing OneNote Notebooks

Once your using OneNote with OneDrive you have the ability to share your notebooks with others. For example, my Digital Tools notebook could be shared with other educators who could then view or contribute to the notebook content depending on what level of sharing I choose.  This collaboration feature enables you to use OneNote as a tool for purposes where information needs to be up-to-date and available to a group.

When sharing a Notebook you are also able to protect sections within the notebook with a password, should you not want to share the whole thing.

Links to OneNote training and video:

Microsoft OneNote Help Microsoft OneNote 2016 Training Microsoft OneNote Free eBook Microsoft OneNote for Students, Teachers, Administrators Microsoft OneNote Community Support Forum



OneNote is a really great tool for keeping the information you need to keep, organised and synchronised on various devices. The OneNote app makes it easy to access those Notebooks on your mobile devices.  If you’re a OneNote user you will value having access via the app.

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What is Swift Playgrounds?

What is Swift Playgrounds?

Introducing Swift Playgrounds.

Swift Playgrounds is a coding app from Apple designed to teach kids how to code.  Expect to see it available when iOS 10 is released in September 2016. It allows students to complete in-built lessons and write code to control a character named “Byte”, giving him movement and direction commands such as moveForward() or turnLeft() or jump(), to guide him through a series of puzzles to be solved in a 3D graphical world.

Swift Playgrounds

With Swift Playground’s split screen on the iPad as seen above, the coder can create and run the code in the left hand section, then preview it straight away on the right hand side Swift Playground’s “world view”. When you start coding the app also gives you suggested commands.

Swift Playgrounds

Download Swift Playgrounds now!

Key features of Swift Playgrounds:

  • only available on iPads running iOS 10 and above (iPad Air or iPad Mini 2 are minimum)
  • you can share your Swift Playground’s code with others using Mail, Messages or Airdrop
  • record and share video of your code in action
  • expect new challenges to be added with app updates
  • code templates enable you to begin using iPad features (accelerometer, gyroscope, multi-touch) quickly and easily
  • Swift Playground’s code can be transferred directly to X-Code, Apple’s programming software for MacOS, WatchOS, tvOS and iOS
  • free app once released, available now to users on the Apple Developer program testing iOS 10 beta.

Swift playgrounds screens

Watch a short video from Macworld introducing Swift Playgrounds (2min47)

From Apple –

“Interactive puzzles teach key programming concepts in a way that is both fun and challenging building confidence and skill. Starting with the “Fundamentals of Swift” lesson, you’ll tackle goals using the same code professional developers use every day. As you move along, more advanced concepts come into play. You’ll continually build on what you’ve learnt and create even more complex code.”

It’s an app which should be popular in iPad schools particularly because learning and writing code is so popular in education at the moment. Code writing involves students in planning, problem solving, design thinking, creativity and collaboration – core 21st Century skills schools want to see their students develop.

Apple has created a Free – Swift Playgrounds Teacher Guide iBook available here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/swift-playgrounds/id1118578018?mt=11

Watch the video demonstration from Apple WWDC 2016 of Swift Playgrounds below:

What is Blogging?

What is Blogging?

1 Minute Introduction to Blogging

Blogging refers to publishing in a website on the WWW – usually a single person or small group of people would contribute posts to a Blog which would be a collection of articles around a particular topic or no topic at all. Posts are organised into categories or displayed chronologically as they are posted by the Blog Author.

This site could be classified as a blog.  Blogs can give someone a voice on the internet – Bill Gates has a blog and so can you!

Video Introducing Blogs and Blogging (2:58)

Key Words:

  • Blog – the website where your Posts and other material or links is stored on the World Wide Web
  • Blogger – someone who contributes posts to a blog
  • Posts – series of articles making up a Blog, usually displayed in categories or chronological order
  • Categories – how you group your Blog Posts
  • Comments – messages people can leave behind after your Posts if you enable them to
  • Theme – the template which gives your blog it’s look and feel
  • Subscribers – people who subscribe to your posts receive notice when you make a new post

What can I use Blogging for?

  • Blogging is a great way to share your ideas or interests with others. Think about your Google search results – how often when you are searching for help on something do you end up on someone’s blog where they are answering your question?
  • Blogs exist for probably any topic you can think of and it can be surprising what you can find online
  • Some teachers use blogs to share what their classes are doing at school – Ms Cassidy’s Classroom Blog
  • A Principal may use a blog to share understandings about learning – Learning at St Joseph’s
  • A group of teachers may contribute to help other teachers – Australian Teachers Blog

How do I Blog?

  • First place to start is to have a blogging platform to use. Once you have the platform you can customise the look and feel of it and then start adding blog posts.
  • There are some free blogging platforms you can look at which usually just require a signup email address before you can rock’n’roll.
  • Check out some of these free ones:
    • WordPress – WordPress sites make up a massive number of the blogs and websites on the web. Sign up at WordPress.com for a freebie and get started. This site is based on WordPress and WordPress would still be my recommended starting platform for a keen, serious, likely to continue blogger!
    • Tumblr – not as feature rich as WordPress but useful for simple quick updates
    • Blogger – a Google product which is easy to sign up for with your Google account but you never know when Google pull the plug on its products.
    • Google sites – similar to WordPress, Google sites are free and fairly customisable.
    • Weebly – WordPress like, use to build websites or blog style website
    • Edublogs – WordPress based but intended for use by Teachers and Educators

One of the advantages of starting with a free hosted website is that if after some time you decide you want more control with your own hosting, web domain and email addresses you can pay for your own web hosting and setup a WordPress site there.

Video: Setup a WordPress.com Blog (30:52s)

Blogging Pro Tips:

  • #1 MOST OF ALL – Content is the key – if what you say is rubbish that’s where people will put it and they wont come back.Don’t hesitate – if you have things you want to share and have discussion about just start blogging. Once you’re up and running you can change platforms, copy and paste or import content. But just get started!
  • Don’t blog for the sake of it. Blog about what your really interested in or what you believe and think is worth sharing that way it will be easy to continue doing it!
  • Be yourself – write your blog posts using the same language you’d use if you were talking to someone in the flesh! People get to know you through your blog so don’t be someone you’re not!
  • Audience – know who you are writing to – this will shape what you blog about and how you do it
  • Choose your blog theme and colours (and fonts) well. Your blog will be more attractive to read and revisit if it looks modern and up to date. Don’t choose colours that clash and use a minimum number of fonts.
  • Engage in conversation with those who comment on your Posts – be polite.
  • Share you posts on social media – use Twitter and Facebook to share your blog posts with others
  • Use share buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share on their networks

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Links for new Bloggers