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Research Insights Day



Presentation at the start of the Futurelab Research Insights Day

Presentation at the start of the Futurelab Research Insights Day



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  • I’d like to talk about the wider context of ‘thinking about the future’
  • It’s something we all do: popular fiction and sci-fi’ images of the future etc And everyone here is specifically, in some way, involved in education futures. But just from looking at these images, a few challenges to thinking about the future become apparent. Techno-determinism The future as ‘same as today but with more technology’ The future as ‘determined and we must prepare for it’ The future as ‘very different from today’ – without any blurring of the old and new which accounts for the processes of change
  • There are more ‘rigorous’ or structured approaches to thinking about the future One taxonomy from Perrotta, Haigh and Williamson charts the difference between these particular approaches. Futurology – as predicting what will be; Foresight as describing highly probable futures; Future studies create richer descriptions of the possible and preferable (asking who’s preferable it is) and sociology of futures asking questions of who says any future is possible? The question of ‘who should be involved’ in describing the future, is something that Carlo will be considering in part of his session. They have different methodologies, often based on the motivations for their work.
  • If you’re interested in this in more detail – 3 particular resources set out the background to education futures that build on FL’s work, particularly on the Beyond Current Horizons programme. The forth resource- is a useful provocation to help others have conversations about education futures.
  • Futurelab has been involved in education futures since its inception. Whether exploring possible futures by creating and evaluating prototypes – of both tech and learning context Of researching and developing an understanding of the processes of educational change Being aware of trends that shape and are shaped by education Scenario planning approaches Understanding current context through in-depth research Providing a space and provocation for discussion
  • All of these approaches are to support a more systematic approach to inform action today – policy, practice and development
  • And that’s a key point. The motivation to engage in education futures as a tool/approach to supporting change in education – to ‘help make the efforts to shape the future more effective’ - contextualising and rationalising the sorts of changes we want to bring about To raise aspirations of what is possible If you share this passion and approach, then you can leave today and tell people part of your job description is that of ‘futurist’!
  • Beyond Current Horizons was a 3 year research programme to build evidence about the possible and probable futures as well as ‘preferable’ futures. It did this to ask fundamental questions about the education system. It did this to attempt to move beyond ‘improving schools’ to considering a wider question of ‘what is education for etc’
  • And that is because there is a challenge inherent in thinking about the future – and that is the assumptions that we work with. Futures thinking can help us challenge these assumptions. Note – not all assumptions are wrong, not all are uninformed – however, we do need to find ways to consider them in detail – to move them from assumption to ‘areas of understanding’ (It can be seen to relate to the development of smallest value propositions)
  • So, how do we use futures work to challenge our assumptions. Let’s have a go – a simple activity that you can use after today to challenge your own organisational visions; aims etc. Not necessarily to change the direction of your aims, but to ensure that your aims can cope with a range of possible and probable futures. I’d like you to consider what your vision for education is – of what can be achieved in, say, 10 years. 2020. It’s difficult to articulate quickly and briefly, so perhaps consider just one element of it. If you’re using Yammer, Twitter, please do share them. Whole Education as an example of organisations who share a vision, but it may be based on personalisation, voice, rights and entitlements, achievement etc.
  • And to question whether those visions are appropriate, I’d like to briefly share socio-technological trends that we can expect to see: to paint a picture of the sorts of environments our education policies, practices and visions need to prepare for, respond to and shape. How do these possible trends challenge the view in your mind? How do they support them?
  • Moore’s Law and uses of tech How access/choose to access resources MIT/Open Uni/schoolofeverything -are youth workers better at supporting young people within their own environments – what about within their digital envioronments? Kieron’s session will look at elements of this
  • Digitally literate What does it mean to digitally participate, as well as participate in geographic communities Moves beyond how do these trends affect pedagogy – to questions of curriculum Sarah and Cassie’s session will look at aspects of this
  • Mary and Lyndsay’s sessions will look at aspects of this
  • All of us need to consider this
  • And for me this challenges all of our visions. Mike Sharples describes how education is remade in light of the tools and technologies available to it. If these technologies can be useful to education – how do they help us remake our vision?
  • So I’d like to leave you with some questions. They will be explored within the different sessions today, and in more of our work, and I hope in yours too. Please check out twitter and yammer to see how people have been articulating and shaping their ideas because at the heart of today’s sessions, at the heart of working in education futures is the question of how can we use an understanding of a range of possible and preferable futures to inform how we go about creating and achieving our vision for education.

Research Insights Day Research Insights Day Presentation Transcript

  • Educational Futures Contextualising our work within a Futures perspective Dan Sutch [email_address] @Dannno # FLRI
  • Ways of thinking about the future Whomever whomever Flickr F1rstborn’s Flickr
  • Ways of thinking about the future
    • Futurology predicting what will happen
    • Foresight quantifiable forecasts of probability
    • (Critical) Futures studies partial descriptions of ‘preferable and possible futures’
    • Sociology of Future investigating dominant futures
    • Many different motivations, aims, methodologies for exploring the future
  • http://bit.ly/ MaintainingFutures http://bit.ly/ JournalFutures http://bit.ly/ BCHFinal http://bit.ly/ MaketheFuture
  • Space Signpost Grounded in today’s context Mobi Missions Discursive exploration of possible futures Exploratree Astroversity Scenarios Enquiring Minds Fizzees
      • Resist the temptation of ‘predictions’
      • Challenge taken-for-granted assumptions about ‘the future’
      • Explore and understand a very wide range of future possibilities
      • Understand which factors might cause these potential futures to come to pass
      • Develop plans and strategies that are sustainable in multiple potential futures
      • Consider the potential implications of actions now on possible futures
    Education futures work… … to systematically investigating futures
  • Section title goes here Futures work ‘involved systematic and explicit thinking about alternative futures ... It aims to demystify the future, to make possibilities for the future more known to us, and to increase human control over the future. In the broadest sense, futurists hope to inform people’s expectations of the future and to help make their efforts to shape the future to their worthy values and purposes more effective’ Bell, W (2003) in Perrotta, Hague & Williamson (2010) http://bit.ly/MaintainingFutures
    • The BCH programme is aiming to build a challenging and long term vision for education in the context of socio-technological change 2025 and beyond
    • Educational goals
    • Educational ‘personnel’
    • Educational institutions
    • Educational methods
    • Educational tools
    • Educational outcomes
    • Beliefs about education
  • Section title goes here ‘ Educational futures work should aim to challenge assumptions rather than present definitive predictions’ Facer & Sandford (2010) p79
  • Visions of educational futures
    • Consider the parts of your ‘vision’ for education? (10 year timescale)
    • Articulate (in one sentence) your vision of education.
    Twitter: # FLRI wholeeducation.org
  • Section title goes here Socio-technological trends – what are the sorts of trends that might challenge our assumptions? Keri Facer, 2009, BCH Final Report
  • Creating the personal ‘cloud’
    • The capacity to connect to a network and be constantly connected to knowledge, resources, people and tools
    • The ability to be ‘wrapped’ in an information landscape rather than managing it through institutions
      • Recognising the rise of the ‘mobile learner’
      • ‘ Pulsating networks of learning’
      • New ways of connecting and accessing ‘educational offerings’
    What does this mean for how we access formal and non-formal learning offerings?
  • Information landscape
    • Denser, deeper, more diverse – “know more stuff about more stuff”
    • Gather, store, use, share more data about more of our world than at present
      • Social movements towards accountability & transparency
      • Increased availability of data storage
      • Digitally tag entities in extended world
      • New forms of bio/genetic information
    What does this mean for what we teach and when we teach it?
  • Institutional boundaries
    • Weakened & porous
      • Information not tied to institution
      • Greater number of ‘suppliers’ of education
    • Blurring ‘work’ & ‘leisure’
      • Personal networks/expertise/brand
    • Education/work/retirement no longer differentiated
      • Working life longer/education as leisure, lifelong etc
    • Public/private roles merging
      • Disaggregation of learning/resources from the institution
    What does this mean for where learning takes place – and when people access it?
  • Demographic change
    • Aging population
      • 2030 50% of Western Europe over the age of 50, 25% over the age of 60, 15% over the age of 70
      • Longer working lifespan
      • Greater distance between formative education and retirement
      • Shifts in family structures and challenges to intergenerational learning
      • Need to examine how consumption and resources are allocated at different stages of the life-course, including the stages of investment in education and learning
    What does this mean for who is learning – and when people are ‘educated’?
  • Scientific-technological trends Profs Dave Cliff, Josie Fraser, Claire O’Malley
    • Moore’s law continues
      • Gordon Moore’s observation that the number of transistors on a chip doubles approximately every two years
      • £1000 today = £31.50 in 2020 and £1 by 2030
      • Device today = 32 times more powerful in 2020 and x1000 in 2030
    • Once per decade disruptions
      • Joel Birnbaum’s observation (1982) expected to hold true: mainframe – minicomputers – PC – internet – (cloud computing) - ?
      • Cloud computing; ubiquitous computing; digital display technologies; tangible and haptic technologies
    What does this mean for how we remake our vision for education?
  • Section title goes here Responding to the challenges – What does a curriculum for a networked learner look like? – What does it mean to (digitally) participate? – What does it mean for accessing resources and information? – What roles do schools, families, networks play in education? – Who should have a voice in describing possible and preferable futures? What does this mean for our vision of education development?
  • www.futurelab.org.uk [email_address] @Dannno http://bit.ly/ MaintainingFutures http://bit.ly/ JournalFutures http://bit.ly/ BCHFinal http://bit.ly/ MaketheFuture www.beyondcurrenthorizons.org.uk