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……..