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What’s on the horizon?

September 17, 2010

Through trusted connections in my social network, I discovered the 2010 New Horizons Report.  The report is part of the The Horizon Project which is the centerpiece of the New Media Consortium (NMC).  Never heard of the NMC?  Me neither and that’s why I love my social connections.  I hang out “virtually” with some very smart people.

The NMC is an international not-for-profit group of learning organizations—colleges, universities, museums, research centers and forward-thinking companies—whose members are on the lookout for emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative inquiry.  NMC has been around for 15 years and launched the Horizon project in 2002.  In conducting research for the report, NMC chats with technology professionals, campus geeks, faculty leaders and leading corporations.  According to their site, these reports are highly regarded worldwide.

So with that, let’s look at the top six technologies considered to be emerging technologies to watch.  The excerpts below are paraphrased from the report site.

Mobile Learning/Computing & Open Content

Within the next 12 months look for these two trends to become even more adopted within universities. Mobile Computing will drive initiatives for more mobile learning.  As cellular and wireless devices and networks are becoming more and more widespread, faculty and instructional technology staff are experimenting with mobile computing for collaboration and communication with and among students. Some obstacles to mobile learning adoption are privacy issues, classroom management challenges and limited access in some places.

The move to Open Content started nearly decade ago with schools like MIT making their content freely available.  Open content has an impact on how students learn in many parts of the world.

eBooks & Simple Augmented Reality

Further out in the next two to three years, two consumer proven technologies expand into learning use.  Use of eBook readers is already strong in the consumer market and they have already proven to be convenient ways to store, read and annotate books. We expect to see more learning content and text books available as eBooks.

Simple Augmented Reality has been adopted in the consumer market within the gaming industry and in certain government sectors, such as the military. At least one law school in the UK has created a virtual community for law students to “practice” law.

Gesture Based Computing & Visual Data Analysis

Further out, Gesture Based Computing and Visual Data Analysis will gain ground in universities.  While this report projects gesture based computing at four to five years, I wonder if it will be sooner  in our legal world where gesture based technologies, like the iPad, are gaining user adoption and interest.

Scientific analysis of large sets of data goes mainstream with Visual Data Analysis.  Visual data analysis is a  way of discovering and understanding patterns in large data sets via visual interpretation.  Like gesture based computing, visual data analysis may find its way into law firms sooner considering the growth and complexity of electronic discovery.

If you have any thoughts on the emerging learning technologies for legal, be sure to add a comment to this post.

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