I have two big decisions to make, looking ahead to 2017. Both are about the various future of education and technology media content projects I run, including the FTTE report and the Future Trends Forum. I’m blogging here to brainstorm and seek your feedback.
In this post, a question of expansion and organization.
Currently I make stuff about the future of education in three different venues: this blog; the Future Trends in Technology and Education (FTTE) monthly report; the weekly Future Trends Forum videoconference discussion, captured and published to YouTube and Storify. Each fulfills a different function, and uses its media form for what it does best.
I also do face-to-face futures work through speaking engagements, workshops, and consulting. That involves some media production in the form of slides, handouts, wiki pages, and other artifacts.
This blog is for quick takes and archiving thoughts, while eliciting conversation through comments and responses on other fora (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+). The FTTE report is essentially a pdf crammed with research and end notes. Because it’s a pdf it can be, and is, easily shared around. In contrast, the Future Trends Forum is a real-time conversation between myself, a guest, and dozens to hundreds of interested people. I and others live-tweet each session, and I Storify the results, while also YouTubing recordings of each entire session.
So far, so very social. I firmly believe in conducting this work openly and with as many people as I can rope in. That way our thinking improves, and people can easily access the results.
And so far, so good, by every measure I can think of. Participation numbers have been decent, with 1724 FTTE subscribers, 1236 Forum participants, and hundreds to thousands of readers on this blog. Those numbers grew throughout 2016, and seem ready to keep rising in 2017. Anecdotal feedback has been very positive. The one survey we did yielded comments that were very supportive.
I could keep on going with the current setup (blog, FTTE, Forum).
I’ve also gotten requests for additional offerings, which I’d like to run past you.
Podcasting. This audio-based medium, named and launched in 2004, has taken off over the past year and a half. The number of podcasts, the number of listeners, and the variety of audio content have boomed, which delights the storytelling maven in me. I’ve participated gently in the podcasting revolution, having been a guest or reader on several programs (SFFAudio, Reading Envy, Digital Campus, Tales of Terror).
How about a future trends podcast?
There are many ways we could do this. I could speak to selected trends and developments based on my research. A guest could come in and we record our conversation. I can turn Forum videos into audio files, losing only faces (we use vanishingly few graphics).
An FTTE podcast has several advantages, starting with multitasking. Unlike reading or watching a video or participating in a full, live videoconference, we can listen to a podcast while driving, walking the dog, doing laundry, etc. Additionally, a podcast is simpler to consume than watching a video, and has a greater personal presence for some people than text (FTTE) does. In short, people can listen to a podcast when they couldn’t otherwise read text or watch video.
The biggest disadvantage is time. I’d need to add podcast production to my busy schedule.
Tweetchats. The #FTTE hashtag does a good job of anchoring Forum discussions during their hour-long sessions. Some people also use the tag to share relevant news and thoughts.
How about hosting a regular tweet chat for the future of education and technology? We could try out different dates and times, seeking a slot that maximizes participation.
Advantages: easy participation in an increasingly familiar format. I can Storify the results as well.
Disadvantages: Twitter’s future as a business is uncertain. And organizing the tweet chats, while not excessively laborious, does take time.
A game. Recently I’ve been exploring the possibility of creating a game about the future of education. I’ve looked into several higher education simulation games, as well as the variety of futures games (The Thing From the Future, for example). There are many possible configurations to choose from: computer or tabletop or role-playing? Gaming a short- or long-term future? What forces to include and exclude? What roles would players play?
Advantages: games are known quantities for learning and mental exploration, of course. They can also be useful for connection people socially. I have a good amount of experience playing them, and have made several (a conference alternate reality game, a class political simulation, a prediction market game).
Disadvantages: time, once more. This could also soak up other resources, depending on the project’s scale and needs.
One ring to rule them all
Stepping back to look at these possibilities and the current projects, I’m struck by their size and diversity. There is content all over social media: on this blog, on Storify, on Twitter, YouTube (nearly 50 Forum videos now), Slideshare, LinkedIn, Google+, PBWorks, Google Docs, and Facebook. There’s stuff on various static websites, like FTTE.US and the NMC’s Horizon Report microsite. Expanding into podcasting would add still more venues (whichever hosting site, plus the galaxy of podcatchers). A game should have its own web site, too.
Should I organize this swarm in some way?
This blog already plays a light organizing role, as I blog about most of these productions, although I should do more. People can find most of them by searching here, or looking at the tabs above for the biggest entities. Is this enough?
Or should I whip up a unifying site, Bryan’s Future of Education Central? That could link to everything, sure, and include a feed from this blog. I’m not sure if it would actually be significantly different from this blog.
Is a unifying title or brand in order? People increasingly know me as one of very few education futurists, but they usually only connect with one of these projects, if any. Perhaps some kind of overarching rubric would help send people to the others:
- FTTE (it works now)
- Future of Education (FOE is a fun acronym)
- Future of Technology and Education (FTE)
- Futuring Education (FE)
- Futuring Higher Education (FHE)
- Future Trends (FT; people often use this phrase to describe my work)
What do you think, dear readers and/or watchers and/or potential listeners?
Coming up next: a post on sustainability.