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The 2020 Educause Horizon Report, Teaching and Learning Edition

A welcome reinvention.

March 4, 2020
 
 

The 2020 Horizon Report: Teaching and Learning Edition is noteworthy given how much the publication has improved in comparison to previous efforts.

The team that Educause gathered to create the Horizon Report has pulled off a difficult trick. They built on the traditions of the report (which dates back to 2002 with the now-defunct New Media Consortium), while thoroughly updating the methodology and presentation of the project.

The Horizon Report begins by discussing five macro trends that provide the context in which postsecondary teaching and learning are evolving.

Included among the trends discussed in the report are social (wellness, demographics, equity); technological (AI, digital platforms, analytics); economic (postsecondary costs, worker demand and skills, climate change); higher education (demographic headwinds, alternative pathways, online learning); and political (public disinvestment, declining support, polarization).

From the foundation of these trends, the report analyzes the impact of six emerging technologies and practices for teaching and learning. These include adaptive learning platforms, analytics, instructional designers, OER and XR.

These technologies and practices were then scaled for teaching and learning impact along dimensions of equity and inclusion, learning outcomes, risks, faculty receptiveness and costs.

Thankfully, the 2020 report abandons the construct of estimating time horizons to adoption from previous reports, noting that prior estimates lacked in both validity and utility.

The highlight of report is the integration of the trends and technologies/practices into the development of four scenarios for the future of teaching and learning. These scenarios are written from the perspective of a 2030 observer. They include an optimistic "growth" scenario and a realistic "constraint" scenario, a pessimistic "collapse" scenario and an imaginative "transformation" scenario.

Finally, the report concludes with a series of short essays on the future of teaching and learning from the vantage point of various countries (Australia, Canada, Egypt, France) and through multiple lenses (climate change, community colleges, baccalaureate colleges, master's colleges and AI).

I won't go into the methodology behind the creation of the report, as readers can dive in. I'll note only that the report is an international effort built on peer collaboration and expert contribution.

Do I have some disagreements with the findings of the 2020 Horizon Report? Sure.

I think that the role of for-profit companies in shaping (or inhibiting) the advancement of teaching and learning is significantly underanalyzed.

I'm also surprised that the report did not delve deeply into the expansion of low-cost online programs at scale and their impact on traditional master's programs.

Despite these critiques, I am appreciative of the care and humility in which the report was constructed.

It is clear that the architects of the 2020 Horizon edition thought deeply about the Horizon Report's strengths and weaknesses and were willing to move away from previous practices that no longer met the needs of our community.

And I do have a favorite sentence from the 2020 Horizon Report:

Learning designers, more than ever before, are being seen as leading experts in teaching and learning on their campuses. They are shifting from service/support roles to being seen as essential collaborators on the design of learning experiences.

Amen.

The mark of a quality piece of scholarship is that it catalyzes further discussion, debate and disagreement.

Everyone in our community should be grateful to Educause for reinventing the Horizon Report, and for all of our colleagues who contributed to the research and writing of the excellent final product.

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