It's Hype Cycle time of year again. I've posted before about Gartner Hype Cycles so not going to explain them again, but do go and have a look if you're interested. I like them and find them a really useful way of tracking emerging technologies and trends.
The Education one has just come out and I've just spent a while looking at it. Technologies on the plateau of productivity include unsurprisingly grid computing in education and web services for administrative applications. Seeing open source VLEs there is perhaps more unexpected. Open source e-learning platforms such as Moodle and Sakai have had a bit of a breakthrough in the last year, and are in 20% of institutions and have 31% of the market share. Gartner predict that more integration of these products with services such as Goggle Apps will serve to increase this trend. As we are about to start a review of our current VLE, this is something we will have to take careful account of.
Podcasting learning content is predicted to be obsolete before it ever reaches the plateau, mainly because podcasts are being incorporated into other technologies such as social software and other broadcasting tools such as iTunes.
A trend on the rise and predicted to have reached mainstream adoption in under 5 years is cloud email - ie the free email services offered to students by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. This hadn't even reached the peak of inflated expectations this time last year, but its already gone over the top, got out of the trough and is on its way up. Gartner's analysis is that due to intense competition, the vendors have worked really hard over the past year to solve issues around the complexity of the education environment including integration, directories and single sign on.
Hurtling down from the peak of inflated expectations towards the trough of disillusionment there's a few interesting things - including ITIL for Education. Especially as we're just about to start implementing it. Their justification though is quite clear - most adopters have focused on the service desk, and change, incident and problem management. Full implementation of all of the ITIL processes is rare, and Gartner estimate that it would take an institution up to 7 years to do so.
A couple of things on the rise worth mentioning including digital preservation of research data. This is considered to be crucial for future research because much data now exists only in a digital form. It has the potential to open up data for new interpretations and to access long series of data. This reflects very much the work of the UKRDS.
Another rising trend is Quantum Computing. I tried to understand what it was, but couldn't. Easy explanations on the back of a postcard please!