Bookmarked How Are We Preparing For The Futures We See Coming? (DCulberhouse)

“It was such a lost learning experience, because the pandemic itself has been a great opportunity for students to figure out who they are and to question their assumptions about continuity, t…

David Culberhouse discusses the tendency in education to snap back to the comfort of our old default habits in an effort to move on from the pandemic. The problem is that this approach often undermines our ability to engage with the future to support staff and students alike.

As the world changes, often in accelerated and in unanticipated ways, so do our considerations and assumptions, much of which are grounded in the past. Shifting our mental models and maps from the rear-view mirror to the windshield allows us to release thinking we’ve entrenched in a world that no longer exists, so we can begin to creatively confront the uncertain and unknown futures that now await us. And the more sophisticated we can be in that journey, the more open we will be to the emergence of the diversity of futures that lie down the road.

This touches on the call to ‘build back better’. As much as I agree with the point that “one image of the future, may give you security, but it’s a false sense of security”, I worry that security is the least of our problems when some schools struggle to even get teachers to staff their classrooms and simply build back.

Replied to Considering The “Default” Future (

It is only when we are willing to disrupt and discover beyond the “default” that new futures are able to be considered and imagined.

As always David you leave me thinking more deeply about the current situation. There was so much spoken about ‘building back better‘, yet it feels like so much of schooling has bounced back to pre-COVID defaults. The problem I have experienced is that things have changed and trying to work the same plan as if it is all business as usual seems somewhat flawed.

For me, this has particularly been captured in the way we assess and report. So many have reverted back to biannual reporting how it was three years ago with little recognition of the disruptions that are still occurring and little thought to whether it is actually what is required by all parties involved. Although I have noticed some discussion of other models, such as mastery, as you attest in your piece, unless you recognise your current default it is hard to break free. This is what I have always liked about the Modern Learning Canvas as a means of starting this conversation.

Liked The History of Predicting the Future by Amanda Rees (WIRED)

Whatever the approach of the forecaster, and however sophisticated their tools, the trouble with predictions is their proximity to power. Throughout history, futures have tended to be made by white, well-connected, cis-male people. This homogeneity has had the result of limiting the framing of the future, and, as a result, the actions then taken to shape it. Further, predictions resulting in expensive or undesirable outcomes, like Turchin’s, tend to be ignored by those making the ultimate decisions. This was the case with the nearly two decades worth of pandemic war-gaming that preceded the emergence of Covid-19. Reports in both the US and the UK, for example, stressed the significance of public health systems in responding effectively to a global crisis, but they did not convince either country to bolster their systems. What’s more, no one predicted the extent to which political leaders would be unwilling to listen to scientific advice. Even when futures did have the advantage of taking into account human error, they still produced predictions that were systematically disregarded where they conflicted with political strategies.

Bookmarked Change in Education and What Needs to be Done (

What we want is often expressed in terms that describe an elite education, which includes in-person residence, small classes featuring personal instruction, and the formation of communities and networks. Elite education, however, can and will be changed into a more hybrid offering that offers the best possible version of these affordances to the wider community. Learning technology supporting these is in the process of being developed, and this technology defines how we can change much of traditional education to make it more equitable and more sustainable over a lifetime.

Expect learning to be much more integrated into the community, with people learning at home or in the workplace and coming together into classrooms only for activities and events. Expect cohorts to be formed and managed by artificial intelligence and to include people from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and workplaces. Expect pedagogies to transition for a model based on instruction to one based on learning environment design with tools and practices supporting self-managed learning. Expect credentials to continue to shift away from diplomas and degrees to much more fine-grained forms of assessment based on actual experience and practice. And finally, expect increasing decentralization of conferencing and communication.

Stephen Downes addresses what is currently unsustainable in education and what is subsequently needed in regards to change. He provides the following suggestions:

  • Focus on building adaptive capacity, rather than single solutions
  • Develop learning environments which connect with the community
  • Provide diverse learning opportunities
  • Support self-managed learning
  • Prepare for trusted social federated identity systems and personal learning dashboards

I would argue that a lot of Downes work is focused on higher-ed, it therefore makes me wonder what some of this might look look in primary years? Also, his discussion about equity, rather than elite, has me wondering about initiatives such as Bridge International and the outsourcing of education? It is a useful provocation none the less.

Bookmarked Imagining the pandemic continues into 2023: part 1 (

How could such a 2023 occur?  Several things will have to not happen:

  1. Right now there’s a lot of discussion about a coronavirus vaccine.  While one doesn’t exist, many hope or expect one over this winter.  However, the vaccine will take time.  To begin with, it’s a hard problem.  Nobody has ever built a coronavirus vaccine before.  It’ll have to be tested and trialled for human safety – and it will have to actually be effective.  Then it needs to be produced at enormous scale, hundreds of millions of doses.  Then distributed worldwide.  This assumes people only need one dose; given recent reinfection stories, we might need doses every year, or more frequently still, which amplifies production and distribution challenges.  On top of that, this rosy view assumes enough people will actually take the vaccine.  Given the persistent antivax movement, the politicization of science in many nations, and some popular skepticism of medical authorities… it could take a while for an as yet uninvented vaccine to actually do its job.  Months or years.
  2. COVID-19 will have to not mutate into less virulent forms.  Viruses mutate, like all life forms, and it’s possible that this awful thing could develop into something less terrible.
  3. An effective treatment for infected people would have to not appear.  Over 2020 better therapies have been developed, but the infection experience is still terrible.
  4. Some call for herd immunity as a solution to COVID’s ravages.  I’d like to discuss just what a horror that would be in another post.  For now let’s imagine the death toll, should America truly attain herd immunity.  There are roughly 328.2 million people in this country.  Let’s posit 80% of them need to get infected for immunity to work, or about 262.5 million.  Then let’s assume a fairly reasonable-to-low case fatality rate of 0.6%.  The result: around one million, five hundred thousand dead.  Which is an astonishing, terrible figure to contemplate.  For the purposes of forecasting, it’s also a problem in that it would take some time to attain.  In six months about 6 million Americans have been infected.  At that rate sufficient infection will take something like 20 years.  Even if infection rates take off, through accidental or deliberate means, it will take some time for herd immunity to be attained.

For the sake of futuring one possible path I’d like to posit that none of those things take place before 2023.  No herd immunity arrives any time soon.  Hundreds of millions of people are not taking our COVID vaccine.  No benign mutation has appeared.  Medical professionals have not developed a splendid treatment.  If none of those occur, then we have one path forward for COVID-19 to keep ravaging the United States for at least several years.

Bryan Alexander adds to his hypothesising about how the current pandemic might unfold. This time he elaborates on the possibility that things continue in much the same fashion until 2023.
Liked The History of the Future (Hack Education)

We do not know what the future holds. Indeed it might seem almost impossible to imagine how, at this stage of the pandemic with catastrophic climate change also looming on the horizon, we can, as Arendt urges, renew a common world. And yet we must. It is our responsibility to do so. God knows the consultants are going to try to beat us to it.

Bookmarked COVID-19 in 2020: several scenarios (Bryan Alexander)

For nearly two months I’ve been tracking the coronavirus outbreak.  I’ve been sharing forecasts, examining analyses, and collecting forecasts here, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and Facebook…

Bryan Alexander continues with his futures work posing three possible outcomes for the current crisis:

  1. The Hubei Model: A single, short wave
  2. Viral Waves: Long durations, uneven impacts
  3. The Long Plague

Alexander also documents a series of forecasts for the US each using a different approach

RSVPed Interested in Attending What is education’s responsibility to society? An open, futures course

George Siemens and I are hosting a two week futures-style Open Course starting April 15th on the SSHRC challenge “Truth under Fire in a Post-Fact World,” and the question of how education should respond. You can sign up by joining this mailing list.

I really like the sound of this Dave, however I seem to say that far too often. I guess we will see.
Bookmarked Futures Thinking: The Basics (Fast Company)

This isn’t an easy task. Futures thinking is hard work. Fortunately, you do get better at it with practice. It’s worth the effort.

Jamais Cascio breaks down the process of futures thinking:

  • Asking Questions
  • Scanning the World
  • Mapping the Possibilities
  • Asking the Next Question
  • Thinking it Through

via Dave Cormier