For the second straight year, cloud computing was named one of two technologies in education to watch during the next year in "The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition," released Tuesday in PDF form by the Austin, Texas-based New Media Consortium.
Mobile technology joined cloud computing in the technology-to-watch-this-year category after it was listed as a technology to watch during the next 2-3 years in the 2010 report. Game-based learning and open content were named in the 2-3 year category this time, while learning analytics and personalized learning environments were tabbed as technologies that could break through during the next 4-5 years.
Larry Johnson, chief executive officer of the NCM, joined a webinar Tuesday hosted by the Consortium for School Networking, who along with the International Society for Technology in Education, collaborated with the NCM on this, the third version of its K-12-focused report. While highlighting what he said were some of this year's most interesting findings, Johnson said that in some cases, current funding shortages were an aid, rather than an obstacle, to progress.
"In one sense, the financial pressures are leading to creative solutions that wouldn't have been on the table in the past," Johnson said. For example, "I think in a time when schools had more money, schools would've preferred to have more control to keep email in the school, as opposed to using a [cloud email] provider like Google."
Johnson also said there's been a significant shift in the tone of discussion about cell phones in schools, due largely to expanding capabilities of smartphones that now commonly feature digital video cameras, Web-searching capabilities, and more user-friendly keyboards.
"In the past, the balance of conversation around mobile devices has really circulated around why we shouldn't use them," Johnson said. "But as phones have become more capable ... they're starting to get too capable to ignore."