One of the documents I would recommend as a “must-read” for administrators is the annual Horizon Report, developed ever year by the New Media Consortium. While this report is not predictive, it does provide valuable information that administrators can use to develop a vision for technology’s role in their schools or districts. It’s three main sections provide specific kinds of information useful for technology leaders.
- The “Technologies to Watch” section of the Horizon Report provides administrators a glimpse of where technology is moving in education. While the direction of technological innovation is unpredictable, and its adoption even more unpredictable, the Horizon Report does provide an overall picture of where current technology adoption is going. For example, in the 2010 Horizon Report there were two technologies on the near horizon of adoption. Those two technologies were: 1) mobile computing and 2) open content. When compared to the near-horizon technologies in the 2011 Horizon Report, 1) electronic books and 2) mobiles, administrators and educators can get a consistent picture where the adoption trends are going. This glimpse of where technology is moving can help administrators be technology leaders. They can engage their staffs in discussions about what is possible and ways to innovate.
- The “Critical Challenges” portion of the Horizon Report can provide administrators with a list of possible barriers to technology integration and implementation in their schools or districts. For example, both the 2010 and 2011 Horizon Report stress the importance of “digital literacy as a skill in every discipline and profession.” Armed with this information, school leaders can advocate for the need of digital literacy in teacher preparation programs and in ongoing professional development. They can also lead staff in the development of curriculum that engages students in learning digital literacy skills. Over time, the increased digital literacy skills among students and staff enhance efforts at technology integration and implementation. It is helpful to be a technology leader that knows what may hinder integration and implementation.
- The “Key Trends” section of the Horizon Report provides school leaders with a short list of those technological pressures that are already impacting education. For example, the top key trend listed in the Horizon Reports for 2010 and 2011 is “The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching, and credentialing.” The Web is truly acting as a disrupter to what we are doing in our schools, and there is absolutely no way to avoid how it is pressuring all of us, from administrators to teachers, to change both our roles and how we carry out our jobs. The “Key Trends” section of the Horizon report provides administrators with a futuristic perspective with which to plan and develop a vision for the future.
There’s no doubt the Horizon Report can be valuable for school administrators. It is one of several documents that can help administrators develop an adequate vision for technology’s place in their schools or districts. School leaders need to add this document to their must-read list. Technology directors and technology lead teachers might want to send their administrators and school leaders links to these documents and encourage them to read them or review the 2011 Horizon Report Video below. We must engage school leaders in envisioning the possibilities of technology in education, and the Horizon Report is one of many tools we can use to do that.
Links to Five Years of Horizon Reports
Video on 2011 Horizon Report