Game-based learning blends well with a concept called challenge-based learning, he added. Challenge-based learning was initially designed for professionals to respond to global crises, but researchers have discovered that students worry about these sorts of problems as well.

“Those kind of games where you tackle real-world problems can be really, really interesting,” he said.

Open content appears on the list for the first time in 2011, and is particularly prevalent in schools outside the United States.

“Open content is hugely interesting,” Johnson said. They’re a way to have access to quality, professionally-reviewed learning materials—that are remixable and modifiable–for free.

And reaching wider use in four to five years are learning analytics and personal learning environments.

Learning analytics “are not well-defined, but draw on what we’ve learned from data mining,” Johnson said. If education leaders can examine enormous amounts of data and extra patterns, they can examine those patterns and discover real-time information to better inform teaching and learning.

Personal learning environments have always been a part of the Horizon Report expert committee’s conversation, but now people are seeing the potential, Johnson said. Still, there is much work to be done before personal learning environments leave the conceptual phase and become more of a reality.