This year, the Hype Cycle for Education, 26 July 2010 states:
"The priority for education institutions in 2010 is to continue balancing organizational efficiency with personal productivity. IT is driving change in many ways: first and foremost by the proliferation of delivery mechanisms that threaten to bypass the CIO. CIOs need new tools to stay in control."
So, what's new in Education for 2010? Open Source is mentioned at just about all stages of the cycle: open source portals and e-learning applications are climbing the slope towards the plateau. Likewise, social media, e-portfolios and wikis are climbing the slope too. Blogs, on the otherhand, have entered the plateau, so expect to see more solid use of those if the future.
Sliding into the trough are: e-textbooks, microblogging, virtual worlds, e-learning repositories and mashups. At the peak is mobile learning and other low-midrange handsets.
Additionally, the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2 August 2010 notes that:
"High-impact technologies at the Peak of Inflated Expectations during 2010 include private cloud computing, augmented reality, media tablets (such as the iPad), wireless power, 3D flat-panel TVs and displays, and activity streams."
A pdf presentation from the report's author, Jackie Fenn, describes the 2010 hype cycle and notes some of the significant changes. On the up, from trigger to inflated peak, is augmented reality (AR) - which seems set to replace Second Life and other such virtual worlds. The clear benefit of AR is that an entire new world does not need to be re-created - just use the real one and superimpose anything new that you need!
Earlier this year, I saw an excellent presentation by Minhua Eunice Ma from the University of Derby on Virtual Reality and 3D Animation in Forensic Visualisation. This example of the use of AR for forensics can be expanded into several areas of legal education where students can undertake experiential learning with more 'reality' than is possible with current virtual reality (VR) software which, along with the other public virtual worlds are still languishing in the trough of disillusionment with 5-10 years to wait until mainstream adoption.
Microblogging, which includes Twitter, continues along the cycle towards mainstream adoption within 2/3 years. It has not, however, passed through the trough so it still has some inflated expectations that need to die out.
Of the 100 or so Hype Cycle Reports from Gartner, one of the six new additions for 2010 includes Business Use of Social Technology:
"This Hype Cycle complements the "Hype Cycle for Social Software, 2010" and was initiated to provide our perspective on the accelerating adoption of social technologies for specific business functions and within selected industries. As reflected in the clustering of technology profiles in the early stages of this Hype Cycle, the business use of social technologies is just emerging. We expect adoption to accelerate and to expand across business functions and industries. Even where overt social-media initiatives are not planned, examination of social technologies will become an imperative where key business participants (such as employees, customers, constituents and partners) engage in social interactions outside of structured or sanctioned enterprise technology solutions."
This, of course, has relevance for law firms, their delivery of services or advertising through social media. Many law firms have a subject area blog and several law firms are using twitter to communicate news, ideas and thoughts to others in the legal community and the world at large. I would argue that law firms are further along than 'emerging' into business use, but agree that 'imperative' use is some distance away. I read somewhere on the Gartner site that potential customers are more likely to look for reviews and advice on social networking sites before purchasing... this, then, may well extend to include both individual and commercial clients looking for legal services in the not too distant future.