Create Your Own Horizon

by Shelly Blake-Plock

As an habitual reader of the annual Horizon Reports, I admit to often rushing straight to the parts about current and future developments in technology.

This year's K-12 edition has got a pretty good overview of current things happening in the space and some of the stuff out there on the horizon.

Here at An Estuary, we are working on a series of interrelated pieces of a technological puzzle around professional learning. Here's a quick list of some of the things on the map for us — all of which support and extend our social learning platform and professional learning courses.


We're actively developing technology in this space. xAPI will be the foundation for considerable future development; and we're excited about some of the more esoteric implications. Anyone interested in technology and learning owes it to themselves to do some research on what's happening with xAPI. One of the things we're really interested in is the way that development around xAPI shifts your thinking from an education mindset to a learning mindset — a mindset focused on experiences.

Open Badges

One of the first things we did during the early beta of Sanderling was to set things up so that we could provision Open Badges to learners participating in projects through our courseware. Ultimately badges are more than just gold stars or recognition for competency and skill sets; they are a fundamental challenge to the way we recognize, verify, and accredit learning — whether formally or informally.

Wearable Learning Data

This is some exciting stuff. And a lot of it comes out of consumer tech and technology around health and fitness. We see all of that directly applicable to learning tech. And so we've started formulating some prototypes. At ISTE 2014, An Estuary's Margaret Roth and Baltimore City Public Schools teacher Sara Henschell are presenting on personalized learning — and each participant who successfully completes the PersonalizED workshop earns a physical Open Badge. These are embroidered badges which are physical representations of your digital badges and which are fit with NFC tags that point to the corresponding Open Badge online. Putting this project together has made us think about a range of problems and possibilities and led us to even build a new system for quickly programming tags in-the-field which link to your Mozilla Backpack. This initial test with 136 workshop participants at ISTE will tell how well the system works.

Sometimes people ask why we chose professional learning as the space in which to investigate and develop new technologies. And I usually respond by pointing to the stuff we've created. This is an endlessly fascinating space which, by way of the technological links between learning and work, encourages the development of interconnected pieces that have important implications far beyond what we usually think of when we think about learning.

Interested in learning more? Get in touch.

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