Exploring Higher Education Futures The presentation is mainly images, so I’ve added boxes like this in the online version with some words of explanation. Maree Conway Thinking Futures Tertiary Education Management Conference 6 October 2010
What will our higher education sector, institutions and our work look like in 20 years time?
Unless we activate our foresight capacity, our ability to think systematically about the future, all our planning about higher education futures is based on what we know about the past and the present.
Essence Optimism Let’s Party We can make it better if we work together InfluenceOptimism Influence Pessimism It will be a challenge and it probably won’t work, but we have to try The end of the world is near Essence Pessimism Frederick Polak’s Images of the Future – influences our perspectives on the future
If the future is going to be nothing like today, then the current paradigm won’t be good enough. We need to start building a new paradigm today, one that takes the uncertainty of the future, and uses it to understand what our options are.
There are no future facts though. All we have are images and ideas about the future, underpinned by our assumptions about how we think the world works now, and will work into the future.
Challenge your assumptions about what’s possible and how you think your organisation will operate into the future.
We must spend time today exploring the shape and form of the future, to avoid looking like this when our best laid plans collide with the future.
QUESTION – when you think about the future of higher education, what images spring to mind?
There are many possible futures. No one can predict the future, except by luck. No one. But we can understand the shape of possible futures, and this activity – thinking about alternative futures – needs to be a pre-requisite for strategy development – right now!
Demographics Globalisation Technology The Need to Green Tertiary Education Work Knowledge Economy Consumer Trends There are many drivers of change out there affecting higher education, and you are all living the impact of these every day in your work.
Customise and personalise Technology that enables Openness and collaboration Ways of Working Here are four of them
Body part maker Old age wellness manager Memory augmentation surgeon Space pilots, tour guides and architects Vertical farmers Virtual clutter organiser Personal branders Narrowcasters Time broker/trader Shape of Jobs to Come, Fast Future
QUESTION: have I missed anything that you think will be an important driver of higher education futures?
So given these drivers, what might be some possible futures for higher education? Let’s look at some scenarios.
The scenario development process, from gbn.com
Swinburne’s Future Journey? University Culture Hello, Mr Chips! Things to Come CC 2012+ A Fish Out of Water Wall Street Mod 2002 2012+ Howard’s End Jurassic Park Legend of Sleepy Hollow Trad 2012+ 1992 Trad Mod CC Societal Culture
Single view of university work Beating your head against a brick wall Beyond the Divide Academics and Administrators Universities valued Universities not valued Jurassic Park It shouldn’t be this hard… Fragmented view of university work
Globalisation and community Demographics – ageing population, mobile population Technology – convergence on mobile devices Workforce – conscious business, new leadership paradigms, employee expectations Education in society and how it is valued Education as an industry and how it operates Learners – expectations, consumer trends, generational trends Funding for education Regulation and autonomy These are some of the trends and drivers of change you need to be paying attention to – today.
One thing is for certain – the world into which we are heading looks like this. It’s complex, it’s interconnected and we don’t know what the outcomes will be.
The future for higher education is NOT going to be like this. It isn’t business as usual with a few tweaks. It isn’t the same old paradigm. It won’t evolve in a linear fashion. It’s going to be a totally different ball game.
Back to Work How do you get ready for the possible futures that might emerge for higher education?
Find the time to explore trends and drivers: just as we schedule planning workshops, we have to schedule time for strategic thinking