The Future Trends Forum community reflects

Two weeks ago I asked all participants in the Future Trends Forum to reflect on their experience.  Here I’ll share some of the results.

(If you’ve ever participated in the Forum, didn’t get to the survey, but still want to share feedback, please leave comments on this post.  If you don’t want your responses to be public, you can contact me directly.)

71 people responded.  Out of 2,889 in the distribution list, that’s about a response rate of about 2 1/2 %.  So it’s not too representative, but also not too bad, as such things go.

First, I asked about how people use the Forum and what they do with it.

Their participation rates in the live Forum varied, with the leading group attending 1-2 times per month:

We have a huge archive of previous sessions on YouTube, nearly 170 videos.  Almost half of the population watches 1-4 of them per year; the rest, less than that.

In sessions, how do people prefer to ask questions and make comments?  Responses were quite varied, including using Shindig’s text feature, video, chatting, and Twitter:

About 1/5th prefer to stay silent and just soak it all up.

Between sessions, how do people like to learn about upcoming ones?  Email remains, by far, the most popular medium, with Twitter a very distant second:

Where do people discuss Forum issues between live sessions?  Our social media platforms are starting to get some traction, led by Facebook, but there’s a lot of room to grow:

I asked who people’s favorite guests were over the past year.  The leaders?   Cathy Davidson, followed by John Seely-Brown and Ann M Pendleton-Jullian.



Second, I asked about what they’d like to see in the Forum going forward.  I floated some possibilities.  The graphic below cuts off the text, so let me share the full questions:

  • A podcast version: recordings edited for sound format, published as podcasts.
  • A news session, where panelists respond to recent education news
  • A news session, where *you* respond to recent education news
  • An interactive tutorial, where we dive into a topic to learn about it (copyright 101, why does college cost so much, higher ed in one nation other than the US, intro to Next Gen Learning Management System, etc)
  • A contest, where we collectively determine the winner for a certain thing

Their preferences tended towards news panel and tutorial:

I asked for suggested themes, and plenty came in.  Highlights included big data and data analytics, different institutional types, innovation, AI, economics, pragmatic change, VR/AR/MR, demographics, certification, and, of course, the future.

Last on the survey were recommendation for how to sustain and grow the Forum.  These were all over the place and very rich, including:

  • expand the audience and guests, adding new sectors, more international people, and more diversity
  • offer more face-to-face sessions
  • approach foundations for collaboration
  • sometimes bring in a guest host
  • expand participants’ networking opportunities
  • polling tools
  • return sessions to dive more deeply with certain guests, topics
  • social media: add Instagram, Twitter accounts; ramp up currently used platforms.
  • people like the YouTube recordings, and didn’t realize their extent
  • spinoff artifacts appeal, such as articles or multimedia documents created out of the Forum

To sum up: people generally appreciate the Forum, and have good ideas about extending it.  We want to use social media more, and are just starting to, as email remains central.  There’s a hunger to explore Forum topics through new types of sessions, repeat sessions on key topics, and continuous conversation.

And: many thanks to the Forum community for taking the time to reflect together on this community’s development.  I’m honored to work with you all.

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2 Responses to The Future Trends Forum community reflects

  1. scott robison says:

    Just curious why Twitter wasn’t a social media option for the “between” conversations. Maybe accounts for some of the “none” category?

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      We’ve had little luck keeping that going. I’ve tried since the start, but people overwhelmingly treat #FTTE as a live event only tag.

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