The NMC was founded October 17, 1993 by a group of hardware manufacturers, software developers, and publishers who realized that the ultimate success of their multimedia-capable products depended upon their widespread acceptance by the higher education community in a way that had never been achieved before.

> Read the original White Paper (pdf) from the NMC on October 17, 1993 here.

> NMC Charter Members

These companies — Apple Computer, Adobe Systems, Macromedia, and Sony — surmised that a community of innovators embedded in leading colleges and universities would amplify the impact of their tools in a wide range of disciplines, and that such a community could be uniquely self-sustaining and adaptive.

As a result, the founding partners launched the first Search for Excellence, to identify schools in which an investment in multimedia capacity could bear fruit. The colleges among the first group of 22 academic institutions were chosen for their demonstrated competence in using new media technologies, as well as their geographic distribution and breadth of academic specialties.

Acting as the hub of information for these centers, the program office facilitates discussions of key pedagogical, technological, and legal issues among centers, publishers, legal experts, and other interested parties. In addition to acting as an information clearinghouse, the program office also fosters and coordinates collaborative projects among its members. New Media Center schools can work with each other or with the program’s corporate members to develop the new technology needed for education. Individual centers develop innovative community programs, such as job retraining courses and in-service training workshops for K-12 teachers.

Those 22 institutions initiated an explosion of collaborative activities, and their working group — then called the New Media Centers — quickly evolved into an independent not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation by early 1994, with the headquarters in San Francisco.

In 1995 and 1998, the organization expanded the membership in two international searches, and today, the NMC includes over 200 extraordinary colleges, universities, and museums working together to expand the boundaries of teaching, learning, and creative expression.

2000 and Beyond

In 2002, the NMC moved its national headquarters to Austin, Texas, and began to organize its projects and activities into broad but focused initiatives. Working through these initiatives, today’s NMC has earned the well-deserved reputation as a leader in the inventive application of technology to overcome challenges in teaching, learning, and creative expression. The Horizon Project, which has grown into a forward-looking ongoing research project, was launched with a special invitational meeting in San Jose, California. Over the course of the year, extensive interviews were conducted with leading technology thinkers such as Douglas Engelbart, Ted Kahn, Jim Spohrer, Kevin Kelly, Kristina Woolsey, and many others.

In 2003, the NMC launched the first Horizon Report research cycle. Each year, the higher ed, K-12, museum, and regional editions of the NMC Horizon Report identify important developments, technologies, challenges and trends — and many of these find their way into important NMC projects, such as Pachyderm, the New Scholarship Initiative, NMC Virtual Worlds, and more. The Pachyderm Project, one of the NMC’s longest running and most successful efforts, also kicked off in 2003, with the support of the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

The Learning Objects Initiative continued in 2004 with the release of the Guidelines for Authors of Learning Objects, a comprehensive companion website and a series of workshops at major conferences, including NLII (an EDUCAUSE program), MERLOT, and the NMC. The Dynamic Knowledge Communities Initiative (DKC) also continued to expand in 2004 with a major new section on the NMC website devoted to communities of practice, knowledge objects, knowledge sharing and tools, blogs, RSS feeds, and more. The NMC Series of Online Conferences were the first four major events held under the umbrella of this initiative.

2005 marked a transformative year for major NMC project launches for the NMC. The 21st Century Literacy Initiative began in April 2005 in San Jose, California, with a “summit” of authors, policy makers, and thought leaders in visual literacy from across the globe. Following this was a yearlong series of related activities under the umbrella of this initiative, including an online conference on visual literacy held in April 2005, and a major monograph detailing strategic priorities for 21st Century Literacy, with sector-specific recommendations for K-12, higher education, research, media & the arts, and policy. The NMC/McGraw Hill Classroom Experience Study launched in the spring of 2005 and was completed the same year in November 2005.

The Marcus Foundation and Texas Museums

The Texas Digital Education Project for Texas Art Museums also was founded in November 2005. This initial collaboration between the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation and the NMC, the first in a series of large-scale collaborations between these two organizations, focused on improving the capacity of Texas art museums to use digital media to frame stories around their collections.

In 2006, the NMC was selected by the MacArthur Foundation to coordinate the production of six volumes of work intended to define digital media and its influences. Also in 2006, the NMC launched its highly successful NMC Campus Project, which continues to be the largest educational effort in any virtual space, involving more than 100 institutions and more than 7,500 individuals. NMC Virtual Worlds, a services unit of the NMC, also jumpstarted in 2007.

The NMC celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 2008, reaffirming its mandate to look for ways to shape the ways the academy views of technology and its applications for teaching, learning, and creative expression. In a Congressional Session that made Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, NMC CEO Larry Johnson presented testimony to the US Congress on the nature and potential of virtual worlds. Achieving its last major milestone, the Pachyderm Project became fully open source in 2008, as well.

On the Horizon

The NMC Horizon Project began reaching a global market that year, with the release of the 2008 Horizon Report in January 2008 (a collaboration with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative), and the Horizon Report:  2008 Australia – New Zealand Edition that was released December 1. A new K-12-focused effort resulted in the NMC Horizon Report: K-12 Edition. The Steve Project, an IMLS-funded activity, launched in October 2008, and design efforts kicked off at a meeting in San Francisco in December 2008. The project continues to build on the work of an earlier effort to create easy-to-use social tagging software that will enable cross-institution searches.

Introducing MIDEA

The NMC and the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation formalized their longstanding collaboration with the launch of the Edward and Betty Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts (MIDEA) in 2009. An outgrowth of the earlier Digital Education Project for Texas Art Museums, MIDEA added to a four-year systemic effort to increase the capacity of museums across Texas and beyond to use new media to tell compelling stories about art and their collections. The project provides a hub for Texas museum professionals to learn about and discuss all forms of digital media, and provides as well as ongoing support and training in support of digital arts education. The project continues to work with Texas museums to help them learn to tell media-rich stories related to their collections and exhibitions on the Internet or in the museum. The learnings findings from this project inform the national and international efforts of many museums and museum-based organizations all over the world. The Pachyderm Project, in its first major open source release, produced Pachyderm 2.1 entirely through community-based effort and support.

Reaching One Million

In 2010, NMC Horizon Report downloads surpassed the 500,000 mark and worldwide readership worldwide approached a million people. The NMC’s landmark nine-years-and-counting study of emerging technology continued with the release of the 2010 Horizon Report in January 2010. A brand new museum edition was released in October to a large fanfare in the museum community, along with reports for K-12 education and for Australia – New Zealand.  2010 also saw expansion of the Horizon Reports to Latin America, and a round of Horizon research focusing on Latin America was conducted completely in Spanish. The NMC Horizon Report: 2010 Edicion Iberoamericana was released in July.

The NMC Horizon Project Navigator was conceptualized, built, and launched in December 2010. Navigator is home to all the NMC Horizon Project research and analysis done conducted over the past decade, with details on emerging technology uptake in regions all over the world, and sector-specific perspectives for higher education, K-12, and museums.

Great Partners, Great Projects

2010 also saw the addition of several large-scale projects. The NMC partnered with HP’s Office of Global Social Innovation to support the work of the HP Catalyst Initiative, which involved building a website (with Navigator as the backbone) that aggregates all Catalyst-related stories, projects, and events into one place. The HP EdTech Innovator Awards was aimed at people with successful projects. There were over 300 proposals received for the Ed Tech Innovator awards, and ten winners were each awarded $40,000 worth of equipment each to support the growth, expansion, and replication of their project.

The Challenge Based Learning Implementation Project (CBL), part of the NMC/Apple partnership, focuses on an engaging, multidisciplinary approach to learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. The NMC is leading the research effort for CBL to better understand why and how it works. Nearly 70 schools are participating in this massive study of the new pedagogy.

From its founding in 1993, the NMC has always focused on the future and the implications of emerging technology for schools, museums, universities, and society. The NMC is looking forward to celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013.