An article and a powerful conversation: two updates on code name FOEcast

Where does the FOEcast project stand in mid-June 2018?

(If you haven’t followed FOEcast, it’s a project to create plans for a future of education and technology initiative.  It’s open, participatory, ongoing, and transnational.  Here’s a good intro.)

A bunch of things are going on.  More and more people join the Slack channel.  A writing project is under way.  And more!

First, EdSurge published an article about FOEcast.  In it Jeff Young summarized the story so far, interviewing myself and Tom Haymes. It’s a nice intro to FOEcast.

I do like one of Tom’s quotes:

“One of the criticisms of the Horizon Report was it was a little bit too tech-focused and it was a little bit too schlocky about how it portrayed the impact of technology,” he says. His hope is for something that would focus less on painting a picture of future technology, and more on, the major issues that higher ed is going to have to deal with because we’ve adopted this technology.”

Second, we held an ideation exercise at the Emerging Learning Design conference hosted by Montclair State University.  (Readers might recall that we’ve conducted several of these in 2018, including one face to face and another online.) A group of thoughtful learning designers were corralled into a room and led through a design thinking process by this hairy maniac:

Bryan at ELD 2018 by ustStormy

We used versions of the questions from the February-March ideation week.

Things began in typical design thinking fashion, with values.  I asked the crowd: what value do future of ed tech projects like the NMC Horizon Report bring to you?

People answered with key points:

  • They give a sense of what’s coming and help us stay current
  • Such projects are departure points for conversations
  • They introduce key concepts
  • Some appreciated the use cases for strategic planning purposes
  • The scale appealed: bite-size chunks evaluated by peers, which made it great to share with Provost and administration
  • Others like the  multidisciplinary approach
  • Other resources cited can be useful
  • Another value: multiple stakeholders can be involved – i.e., students, teachers, ….

Next we asked: what methods or strategies do you use to learn and think about the future of education?

  • Face-to-face conferences
  • Looking back to ed tech’s past to be able to say more about the future (Audrey Waters cited)
  • Exploring the stories people tell about the future of education (I think this was another Waters link)
  • Playing with things (hardware, software, practices)
  • Related: play within a construct and objectives
  • Being around kids and watching the dynamics
  • Research on Gen Z
  • Through a variety of media – social media, movies
  • Keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s new in the world of business – new career opportunities    
  • One emphasized the need to create the future (Peter Draker)

Then we pushed the group to be creative, asking them to brainstorm what kind of project they wanted to see.  What should be in the ideal project?

  • Infographics / visuals
    • For example, a timeline or story map
  • A digital knowledge base of aggregated media to stay ahead
  • Crowdsourcing information in a virtual environment – features, practices, contact info
  • Examples of proof of concept, case studies
  • It should be concisely shareable with faculty
  • ” ” ” connected to a deeper dive on a particular topic
  • Multiple ways of access would be great – i.e., email, wiki, web (both push and pull technologies)
  • Related: multiple options/points
  • Openness is good (some concern about a process being effectively a black box)
  • Links to individual contributors’ blogs
  • A group which serves as a space to get things started
  • Research-based evidence

In retrospect, that was a really rich session.  It was great to bring in so many people who hadn’t participated before.

Between this ELD session, our April ASU work, the February-March online ideation, and our ongoing conversations, FOEcast is assembling a treasure trove of ideas for future projects.

What do you think of these developments?

(photo by Melissa Hicks)

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