2010 Short List: Key Trends

  • The abundance of resources and relationships induced by open resources and social networks is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching and credentialing. Access to educational materials of all kinds has never been so easy or so open as it is today, and this trend is only increasing. The sage-on-the-stage model of teaching, where the instructor holds all the information and all the cards, is simply not applicable in this world of instant access. Educators must respond by changing their roles to reflect the new need to guide and coach students in finding, interpreting, and building an understanding from multiple sources of information.
  • Engaged citizenship is increasingly enabled by technology, political awareness, engagement and just-in-time learning. Mobile technologies and new media show strong promise to improve civic participation and social inclusion for youth. Further, the growing trend of embedding media and connectivity into the urban fabric is opening up new forms of social and civic engagement. Students are able to be more connected with the world than previously, leading to increased levels of participation in social and civic activities.
  • Increasingly, we expect to be connected wherever we go. Wireless network access, mobile networks, and personal portable networks have made it easy to remain connected almost anywhere. We are increasingly impatient of places where it is not possible, or where it is prohibitively expensive, to be connected, such as airplanes in flight and countries outside our own mobile networks. The places where we cannot connect are shrinking—some flights provide wireless access, for instance—and our expectations of immediate access to our personal information, multi-level communication, and interaction with the world are more frequently met.
  • More and more, people expect to be able to work, learn, study, and connect with their social networks wherever and whenever they want to. We are not tied to desks anymore when we wish to use computers. Workers increasingly expect to be able to work from home or from the road, and most everyone expects to be able to get information, addresses, directions, reviews, and answers whenever they want. Mobile access to information is changing the way we plan everything from outings to errands. A corollary of this trend is the expectation that people will be available and online, anywhere and anytime.
  • Students are increasingly seen as collaborators, and there is more cross-campus collaboration. Using collaborative technologies, students are working with faculty and peers in other classes and on other campuses to create online resources that both demonstrate learning and contribute to public knowledge. Research projects are conducted by larger, more distributed teams than previously, and they are often becoming more public much earlier in the research process.

  • Technologies are becoming more decentralized. The continuing acceptance and adoption of cloud-based applications and services is changing the way we configure and use software and file storage. We readily accept that our work is stored on someone else's servers; we appreciate that our information is accessible no matter which computer we may sit down to use; we are used to the model of browser-based software that does not need to be installed on our computers. Many institutions have found that valuable campus resources are freed up by outsourcing utilities like email and applications. Campuses are responding to this trend in different ways; some are adopting decentralized, hosted solutions, while others are building in-house solutions of their own.