On January 24-26, 2012, one hundred distinguished thought leaders from all over the world were invited to come together in Austin to mark the tenth anniversary of the NMC Horizon Project with a very special convocation and retreat. During the retreat they identified a number of ‘mega trends’ that will effect learning and the way we work in the next year. Although they identified more than the 10 listed here these are the trends that they feel will be particularly important in 2012. Trends 7-10 are particularly important to note for those of us working in online learning:
1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative. As more and more
companies move to the global marketplace, it is common for work teams to span continents and
time zones. Not only are teams geographically diverse, they are also culturally diverse.
2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to.
Increasingly, people own more than one device, using a computer, smartphone, tablet, and ereader. People now expect a seamless experience across all their devices.
3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network — and already is at its edges.
Mobithinking reports there are now more than 6 billion active cell phone accounts. 1.2 billion
have mobile broadband as well, and 85% of new devices can access the mobile web.
4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks,
facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media. Our current expectation is that
the network has almost infinite capacity and is nearly free of cost. One hour of video footage is
uploaded every second to YouTube; over 250 million photos are sent to Facebook every day.
5. Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions
of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a
value for much of the world. As authoritative sources lose their importance, there is need for
more curation and other forms of validation to generate meaning in information and media.
6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society. In an
age where so much of our information, records, and digital content are in the cloud, and often
clouds in other legal jurisdictions, the very concept of ownership is blurry.
7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and
success. Access to learning in any form is a challenge in too many parts of the world, and
efficiency in learning systems and institutions is increasingly an expectation of governments —
but the need for solutions that scale often trumps them both. Innovations in these areas are
increasingly coming from unexpected parts of the world, including India, China, and central Africa.
8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining
our notion of literacy. Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in
which information is everywhere. In such a world, sense-making and the ability to assess the
credibility of information and media are paramount.
9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities,
and training. Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and
socially, but also in academia — and worldwide. As a result, credibility, validity, and control are all
notions that are no longer givens when so much learning takes place outside school systems.
10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing. Libraries are deeply
reimagining their missions; colleges and universities are struggling to reduce costs across the
board. The educational ecosystem is shifting, and nowhere more so than in the world of
publishing, where efforts to reimagine the book are having profound success, with implications
that will touch every aspect of the learning enterprise.
These metatrends are the first of much yet to come in the next year.