What was the Horizon Report? It was a set of reports published each year by the New Media Consortium, compiling the thoughts of leaders in information technology, education and libraries on the short and long-term trends in technology, and how they might affect education, from K-12 to higher education
The New Media Consortium folded some months ago, and Bryan Alexander rallied the troops to create FOEcast, to imagine and develop a new iteration of the Horizon Report.
This is Ideation Week for the FOEcast initiative, and today’s question is: What needs did the Horizon Report meet?
I learned of the Horizon Report several years ago when I worked at Wesleyan University Library—I don’t remember who told me about it but it was probably either Barbara Jones, who was Wesleyan University Librarian, or Mike Roy, Head of Academic Computing. Barbara and Mike were enthusiastic about the future of information technology and libraries, and eager to explore new technologies.
At Wesleyan, all of us in the Library and in IT followed technology and other trends through traditional articles, conferences and a variety of social media. But because the information came through so many different sources, in a partial and sometimes partisan manner, it was hard to know whether or not we were missing or discounting important trends, or overvaluing others.
The Horizon Report was invaluable as a compilation, in one authoritative document, of these trends and in particular how they were likely to impact education. It explained technology terms we had heard but perhaps not fully understood through the year, and sparked ideas that librarians and academic computing staff could share with students and faculty. At Wesleyan, the Horizon Report served as a one-stop shop to learn about emerging technologies. We then used this information to plan for the coming year and determine which trends to pursue.
At Russell Library, Middletown, Connecticut’s public library, I continued to consult the Horizon Report. Public libraries serve the educational needs of people of all ages, from birth to old age. In this context, and particularly in the challenging fiscal environment of most public libraries, it was essential to know what technologies to focus our scarce money and time in pursuing. The Horizon Report provided this information in a format that was concise and easily understood.
I was shocked to learn of the demise of the New Media Consortium, and thrilled that Bryan Alexander and others have taken up the banner of developing a next-generation Horizon Report.