external image HR04cover.gifTechnologies Highlighted in the 2004 Horizon Report

Listed below are the six technologies highlighted in the 2004 Horizon Report with a short description of each. Where are they now? Are the horizons associated with them still accurate? What may have changed? Should they still be on our radar screens? Let us know your thoughts.

Where Are They Now?

Review past Horizon Reports to comment on how they have played out over time.



Near Term: Mainstream campus use within a year.

Learning Objects

Learning objects are assemblies of audio, graphic, animation and other digital files and materials that are intended to be reusable in a variety of ways, and easily combined into higher-level instructional components such as lessons and modules. The primary purpose behind the development and use of learning objects is to increase access to quality content, and to avoid wasteful replications of effort by making that content usable in a variety of contexts.
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  • Learning objects, both as objects and theoretical categories, remain pertinent - see Anne Balsamo's recent work for the MacArthur Digital Learning Initiative and the current Network Culture Project at USC's Annenberg School for Communication. She uses the term "evocative knowledge object"... (Holly Willis)

Scalable Vector Graphics

SVG uses XML for describing two-dimensional graphics, holding the information needed to draw an image in a text file. Scaling is smoothly achieved without jagged edges. Graphical objects can be styled, transformed, grouped, or placed into previously rendered objects. Text is searchable and selectable. SVG is an especially powerful tool for instructional developers on college and university campuses, with potential applications in virtually any discipline, but especially the sciences and engineering.
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  • of all the past forecasts, this seems like the only really doozy - SVG is still around in various forms, but I think it would be har to argue that it has had any sort of substantial impact on teaching and learning. - Sleslie 08:57, 13 November 2008 (PST)
  • This is my favorite example of talking about value of prediction vs the trend- Of course, in hindsight, SVG was the wrong train, but the right trends was Vector Graphics- this was published just a few months before Macromedia bought a little company called FutureSplash, and the rest is history (well except text is still not "searchable and selectable") --Alan 00:58, 16 November 2008 (PST)

Mid-Term: Mainstream campus use within one to three years.

Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping refers to what amounts to 3-D printing, e.g., building three-dimensional physical objects from digital data files. These files may be created in a variety of ways, such as computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided tomography (CAT), or even X-ray crystallography, then output to a rapid prototyping machine that creates a physical model of the object. This technology already is widely used for a variety of manufacturing, design, and engineering applications, but as cost decreases, is finding new applications in the arts and the classroom.
  • We were moving into 3D printing in 2004. We began with creating models of molecular structures, but have moved into creating objects from medical imaging, models from design and art, and prototypes of equipment. A couple "desktop" 3d printers may soon be released, and may hit a a sub-$10000 price. Unfortunately, there is still only one technology of which I am aware that produces multi-color models. - Alan Wolf (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

Multimodal Interfaces

Multimodal interfaces provide ways for humans to interact with computers beyond the traditional mouse and keyboard, using inputs and outputs that target not only each of the five senses, but also take advantage of nonverbal cues common in human conversation. Considerable development is taking place in simulations that use multimodal techniques (haptics or force feedback, for example) to great effect.
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  • The advent of the Wiimote brings multimodal interfaces to the foreground as people experiment with new forms of interaction with scholarly media. Jim Tobias at UC Riverside is developing what he calls a "stylistics" of gestural computing, and has outlined ten key modes of gestural interaction that both trace a history of computing and outline interesting possibilities for thinking about how we interact with scholarly "texts." (Holly Willis)

Long Term: Mainstream campus use within three to five years.

Context-Aware Computing

Context-aware computing refers to computing devices that can interpret contextual information and use it to aid decision-making and influence interactions. Contextual cues may include what the user is attending to, the user's location and orientation, the date and time of day, lighting conditions, other objects and people in the environment, accessible infrastructure in the immediate vicinity, and so forth. Context-aware applications can make decisions based on such information without the need for user input.
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[edit] Knowledge Webs

Knowledge web is a term that describes a dynamic concept of individual and group knowledge generation and sharing, with technology used to make connections between knowledge elements clear, to distribute knowledge over multiple pathways, and to represent knowledge in ways that facilitate its use. Work in knowledge webs overlaps considerably with that going on around communities of practice, and holds the potential to help such communities share, create, analyze, validate, and distribute existing and emerging knowledge.
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