The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed. [attributed to William Gibson]

The UKOLN ISC is charged with advising the JISC and the wider Further and Higher Education communities about trends in the development and adoption of relevant technologies. Often this is not a predictive task so much as one of detecting patterns of usage and adoption at the cutting edge, and relating these to the mainstream. We tend to view the ‘future’ as 3-5 years from now, although we will examine closer ‘futures’ or engage in more speculative, long-term horizon-scanning activities as appropriate. Our primary framework for this kind of activity is the JISC Observatory.

About the JISC Observatory

The JISC Observatory aims to identify key trends in technology, standards and practice which may affect the medium- and longer-term strategic decisions about core learning and teaching, research and administrative services.

The JISC Observatory is a joint initiative between the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN and JISC CETIS.

Key People

The co-directors of the JISC Observatory are Paul Walk (UKOLN) and Adam Cooper (JISC CETIS).  The project manager is Thom Bunting and the communications manager is Brian Kelly, both of whom work for the ISC at UKOLN. Richard Waller is working as production editor on forth-coming TechWatch reports.

Finding Out More

Early work of the JISC Observatory has been featured in the JISC Inform newsletter (issue 32).

This article describes how the Observatory has pulled together top issues that are on the horizon within the year, within two to three years, and within four to five years.

Highlighted developments include:

  • On the horizon or here now: cloud computing; mobiles and tablet computers
  • Two to three years away: game-based learning; new scholarship; learning analytics and semantic applications.
  • Four to five years away: augmented reality; telepresence and collective intelligence and smart objects.
Recent TechWatch reports include: Preparing for Data-Driven Infrastructure (published September 2012) and Delivering Web to Mobile (published May 2012).  Commenting on the Augmented Reality for Smartphones (May 2011) TechWatch report,  science fiction writer Bruce Stirling wrote in the Wired online magazine: “This is a fine piece of comprehensive research work. If you’re an AR developer or content guy, you’re gonna want a printout of this lying around, so you can brandish it at people. You’ll look like you know what you’re talking about!
JISC Observatory team members at UKOLN and JISC CETIS use existing blogs to highlight areas of new developments and encourage discussions on the implications of such developments. Recent posts include:

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The Innovation Support Centre is funded by the JISC, managed by UKOLN and hosted by the University of Bath.