The NMC and the Smart Learning Institute (SLI) of Beijing Normal University are releasing the 2016 NMC Technology Outlook for Chinese K-12 Education at a special conference in Beijing. This inaugural report focuses on Chinese schools, and it describes the findings of the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe developments in technology likely to have an impact on teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. The report has been published in both Chinese and English.


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Nine key trends, nine significant challenges, and twelve developments in technology are identified across three adoption horizons over the next five years, giving Chinese K-12 leaders, decision-makers, and practitioners a valuable guide for strategic technology planning. The report will provide these leaders with in-depth insight into how the trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology for Chinese schools.

Cover1 - Horizon.cn_border“K-12 leaders and policymakers across China will use this report to inform the strategies that will shape schools and educational programs,” said Dr. Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the NMC and co-principal investigator for the report. “The findings illuminate a number of compelling developments and there were some clear themes: China is doing an excellent job of promoting student-centered learning and providing teachers with high-quality professional development opportunities.”

“The 2016 NMC Technology Outlook for Chinese K-12 Education is the first step of collaboration between the Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University and NMC,” noted Prof. Ronghuai Huang, Dean of SLI and co-principal investigator for the report. “A panel of 65 Chinese experts has made the consensus on the key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies that will be important to the field in China as well as worldwide over the next five years. We believe this report from SLI and NMC will have a significant impact for smart education in China.”

The subject matter in this report was identified through a qualitative research process designed and conducted by the NMC that engaged a Chinese body of experts in K-12 education, technology, business, and other fields around a set of research questions designed to surface significant trends and challenges. The Chinese expert panel was also asked to identify developments in technology that have a strong likelihood of adoption in schools across China. The 2016 NMC Technology Outlook for Chinese K-12 Education details the areas in which these experts were in strong agreement.

Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Chinese K-12 Education
Nine trends are identified as very likely to drive technology planning and decision-making over the next five years. The panel pinpointed the “Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators” as the top long-term impact trend driving technology adoption in Chinese K-12 education for the next five or more years. The “Growing Focus on Measuring Learning” is the top mid-term impact trend expected to drive technology use for the next three to five years, and the “Proliferation of Open Educational Resources” is the top short-term impact trend anticipated to affect Chinese schools for the next one to two years. These key trends, along with six others, are detailed in the report.

Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in Chinese K-12 Education
A number of challenges are acknowledged as barriers to the mainstream use of technology in Chinese K-12 education. “Integrating Technology in Teacher Education” was ranked by the panel as the most solvable challenge as it is well understood and already being addressed across the country. “Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities” is considered the top difficult challenge, meaning that it is understood but solutions are still elusive. Identified as the most wicked challenge is “Scaling Teaching Innovations,” which is complex to define, much less address. These significant challenges, along with six others, are detailed in the report.

Important Developments in Technology in Chinese K-12 Education
Additionally, the report identifies cloud computing, flipped classroom, makerspaces, and mobile learning as developments expected to enter mainstream use across Chinese schools in the near-term horizon of one year or less. 3D printing, 3D video, learning analytics, and massive open online courses are seen in the mid-term horizon of two to three years; adaptive learning technologies, intelligent grading technologies, virtual and remote laboratories, and wearable technology are seen emerging in the far-term horizon of four to five years.

The 2016 NMC Technology Outlook for Chinese K-12 Education is available online, free of charge, and is released under a Creative Commons license to facilitate its widespread use, easy duplication, and broad distribution.