NMC Horizon Report Gives a Glimpse of PBL Future


The recent New Media Consortium (NMC) 2015 K-12 report gives a glimpse at where education technology may go in the next 5 years. The report identifies trends, challenges, and developments that we may see as technology becomes increasingly integral to the educational experience. A recent summary of the report from the Korea IT Times highlights two major ways that project-based learning figures into this future:

Deeper Learning: The report indicates that teachers will continue to look for ways to connect what happens in the classroom to outside experiences for deeper learning for the students.  As the “outside world” has become increasingly inclusive of technology and innovation, this will certainly push the classroom towards tech-centered modes of pedagogy. Students will be expected to use this technology to find solutions for problems akin to the challenges found in the real world. Project-based learning provides a great structure to facilitate this.  The report states,  “Indeed, project-based learning is stated to have a number of benefits that can enhance teaching and learning; they include providing real-world relevance, longer retention and ability to apply knowledge of lessons learned, preparation for the 21st century work environment, and exposure to using technology to solve problems” (p. 10).

As educators aim to foster deeper learning, students can engage in projects that align with real world experiences.  Also, students can leverage the inquiry and discovery-based nature of PBL to find creative ways to incorporate technology. All of this provides a complex learning experience for the students that could potentially help them prepare for the working world of today and tomorrow. This focus on deeper learning is certainly necessary in a world that requires such high levels of critical thinking, collaboration, and adaptability.

3D Printing: The report indicates that 3D  printing will become more mainstream in education within the next 2-3 years.  With 3D printing, students will be able to make all sorts of objects, replicas, and models that can be included in their projects. The report states, “One of the most significant aspects of 3D printing for education is that it enables more authentic exploration of objects and concepts that may not be readily available to schools” (p. 40). This certainly opens the door for expanded creativity, which can enable projects to go in directions that perhaps were not possible prior to this technology. Additionally, the notion that 3D printing enables more authentic learning ties in with the deeper learning focus mentioned above.  I personally am excited for where things can go once this technology becomes more mainstream.

It’s never easy to predict the future when it comes to technology, but going by this report, it seems that project-based learning will play a big role in that future when it comes to education.