The Horizon Report is an annual study that looks at "emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression" and in its annual report, lays it out what they think are the general technologies to be watching in three time frames (1-2 years out, 2-3 years out, 4-5 years out).
Sometimes when I look at the Horizon Report I think "duh, isn't that obvious?" But I do find that it can give some focus to initial discussions about what is happening around us.
What I also like about the report is it gives real-world examples of what some places are doing with this technology to aid learning. This too leads to ideas for what we can do.
For 2008, the "key emerging technologies" identified were:
1-2 years out:
Grassroots video (very easy to capture, edit, post videos)
Collaboration webs (easy ways to collaborate online)
2-3 years out:
Mobile broadband (smart phones will be more pervasive)
Data mashups (transforming the way we look at and interpret data)
4-5 years out:
Collective intelligence (knowledge and understanding developed from large groups of people)
Social operating systems (networks organized around people rather than content)
I have heard that for the 2009 report, mobile devices is now in the 1-2 years out category.
Those first 4 areas are issues we have been talking about in a number of ways, so it is good to see that we appear to be looking in the right direction.
The full report is at: http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2008-Horizon-Report.pdf
including examples of what others are doing. Some of the mobile broadband application and mashup examples are especially interesting.