Horizon Report's future remains uncertain after sudden NMC closure


In light of the abrupt revelation last month that the New Media Consortium (NMC) would have to “cease operations immediately,” educators and education technology leaders were left stunned and asking questions. Specifically, many people wondered about the fate of the nonprofit’s annual Horizon Report, on which they depended for predictions and guidance in navigating looming edtech developments.

The NMC, which published two annual editions of the report — one for K-12 that was released with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), and one for colleges and universities released with EDUCAUSE — announced on Dec. 18 that it was shutting its doors because of financial woes. The popular forward-looking reports it published focused on trends, challenges and developments in the edtech world.

John O’Brien, president and CEO of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit that serves IT experts in higher education, said the two organizations had partnered for more than a decade to publish the annual Higher Education Edition — but that would all change now. He said EDUCAUSE would facilitate the release of this year’s Horizon Report even though the organization behind the publication has dissolved.

“Although EDUCAUSE has been notified the NMC has recently ceased its operations, we remain committed to completing this work and facilitating the release of the 2018 Higher Education Edition of the Horizon Report,” O’Brien said in a statement.

Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, an association for K-12 technology leaders, told EdScoop that it is still up in the air whether CoSN will continue to put out a Horizon Report for elementary through high school. But he said in an official statement that, with or without the K-12 Horizon Report, it is CoSN’s priority to continue publishing research and educational materials that are valuable to the IT community.

“We remain committed to providing resources to our members and the community on emerging technology for learning, as we have since our founding,” he said. “We have been a partner in every K-12 Horizon Report since they started. In fact, we approached NMC about creating this essential report for primary/secondary education.”

The report often correctly anticipated which technology trends were about to take off in the nation’s schools — from open-source content, cloud computing and mobile devices, to virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

In the most recent K-12 edition of the report, released at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, education experts predicted robotics, makerspaces and the Internet of Things would be among the top developments in edtech this year.

State and local education IT leaders have said they rely on the reports when considering priorities for the year ahead.

“Every year we use the Horizon Report,” Jared Mader, director of education technology for the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units, told EdScoop at the SETDA Leadership Summit in October, two months before NMC declared bankruptcy.

“We use that as a foundation for … our discussion with technology leaders in our district,” he added.

NMC is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to dissolve.

“The New Media Consortium regrets to announce that because of apparent errors and omissions by its former Controller and Chief Financial Officer, the organization finds itself insolvent,” according to a statement distributed via email. “Consequently, NMC must cease operations immediately.”

“Please understand that NMC’s assets may be sold as part of the bankruptcy process and another entity, potentially a nonprofit, may yet go forward with our summer conference,” the statement continued.

Bryan Alexander, who led research for various NMC reports, has been keeping tabs on the situation through his blog. He said the fate of the Horizon Report’s 2018 Higher Education Edition is among the “issues at play,” despite O’Brien’s pledged commitment to see it through.

He added that the report is half completed, and was scheduled for release in early February.

Of the staffers who lost jobs, he wrote, “These are fine people, laid off at the year’s end, right before the holiday season. Will organizations snap them up, quickly?”

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.