Page 16 - Campus Technology, November/December 2017
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the 2002 Steven Spielberg film Minority Report. Vernor Vinge’s award-winning 2006 novel Rainbows End por- trayed a school system reshaped by mobile devices, aug- mented reality, book scanning, drones, makerspaces and project-based learning, a scenario which we seem to be entering in 2017. Meanwhile, a burgeoning subgenre of “climate fiction” helps us imagine the world after climate change. Science fiction might be one of the most effective, and certainly entertaining, tools in our forecasting toolkit.
drivers for scenario creation. Students can write sce- narios which faculty profitably consider, and which inform a library’s strategic planning process — itself integrated with that unit’s ongoing trends analysis.
Beyond a single institution, there are many ways for us to collaborate in futuring practice. The local community can offer many thoughtful collaborators with a variety of back- grounds, from business to nonprofit to the military. Schools can draw on published educational futures work, like the
“Rethinking Education”) or through podcast (such as FlashForward). Tech makes it easier for us to draw on a wide range of sources through RSS readers or Twitter lists, preferably informed by digital literacy. On social media we can follow future-oriented professionals, inven- tors like Ray Kurzweil, scholars, or futurists like Amy Webb and Jamais Cascio. We can use computer games to model possible futures (for instance, see the Univer- sity of Iowa’s Iowa Electronic Markets tool). Perhaps most powerfully we can use the internet to share our thoughts and discoveries with a potentially wide audi- ence, garnering feedback and more ideas.
These methods can offer campuses thoughtful and practical benefits as we face institutional and techno- logical change. They can help us anticipate new devel- opments, while giving us time to think through how we can best prepare for and respond to them. Futuring pro- vides us with new ways to collaborate and connect — virtues sorely needed in 2017. From trends analysis to scenarios, science fiction to horizon scanning, forecast- ing not only gives us ways to imagine a better world, but also tools to help build one.
Bryan Alexander is a futurist, researcher, writer, speak- er, consultant and teacher, working in the field of how technology transforms education.
Technology can play many roles in strengthening our futures work .... Perhaps most powerfully we can use the internet to share our thoughts and discoveries with a potentially wide audience, garnering feedback and more ideas.
Synthesis and Collaboration
All of these methods are available to a campus technol- ogy office. An educational technology team, for example, can write scenarios about future pedagogy for faculty and support staff to consider. An IT group drawn from different teams and functions could collaboratively track trends they deem most significant. An inter-office task force could conduct an environmental scan.
These methods can be used in isolation, or in new con- texts and combinations. Trend analysis can reveal fruitful
New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project. Consider, too, the benefits accrued to environmental scanning by com- paring discovery across different geographical locations or institutional types. Faculty members can productively cross disciplinary boundaries in imagining the future of education.
Technology can play many roles in strengthening our futures work. Digital tools make it easier for us to create multimedia objects, such as scenarios in video (e.g., Richard Katz’ “EDU@2025” or Michael Wesch’s
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | November/December 2017

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