EDUCAUSE buys bankrupt New Media Consortium


Just two months after the abrupt dissolution of the New Media Consortium and one month after EDUCAUSE made an offer to purchase the nonprofit’s assets, a court has approved the sale.

It’s about as happy an ending as many educators could have hoped for, after learning in December that the New Media Consortium — best known for producing the popular Horizon Report, which forecasts emerging education technology trends — had filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and would have to “cease operations immediately.”

EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association for college and university technology leaders, had worked with the NMC for more than a decade to publish the annual higher education edition of the Horizon Report.

In a statement, John O’Brien, president and CEO of EDUCAUSE, said his organization stepped in to buy the defunct nonprofit “out of our shared interest in this work and our respect for the NMC.”

It cost the Colorado-based technology association a total of $55,000 to acquire the NMC’s assets, which include its trademarks, website, membership and subscriber lists, and of course the Horizon Project.

“The NMC gave voice to a remarkable community of educators and innovators and grew thoughtfully over the past two decades, identifying some of the toughest challenges in teaching and learning and offering important insights on the future of education technology,” O’Brien said. “We have appreciated the opportunities we have had over the years to support the work of the NMC and to partner with them.”

O’Brien reiterated a point he made in December, shortly after learning about the fate of the NMC: EDUCAUSE fully intends to complete and publish the 2018 higher education edition of the Horizon Report. But he provided no further details about that process or about the future of the K-12 edition of the report, which had for years been produced in partnership with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and has been a valuable planning resource to many school and district leaders.

EDUCAUSE plans to base a number of its next steps off the feedback it gets from education technology stakeholders, O’Brien said.

“With the bankruptcy proceedings behind us, we know that the community will be interested in our plans for the future,” he said. “We intend to connect and consult with community leaders as we determine the next steps forward — and to do so with the care and thoughtfulness that this community has come to expect.”

The NMC bankruptcy came less than a year after Eden Dahlstrom was named its executive director. Before joining the NMC in January 2017, Dahlstrom had been EDUCAUSE’s chief research officer — an experience many believed made her “well-positioned” to tackle the Horizon Project.

Since the NMC’s demise, Dahlstrom has returned to EDUCAUSE to serve as its director of academic community programs.

Further muddling the circumstances of the last couple of months, on her EDUCAUSE bio, Dahlstrom’s stint at the NMC is described like this: “She recently concluded a short-term professional engagement to run an international 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the exploration and effective use of new media and emerging technologies for creativity and learning.”