Near Future Teaching- methods and a progress report 

Now that Near Future Teaching is well underway, it seems like a good time to write a short blog post on our project methodology, how it’s going, and what we hope we will achieve by the time the project finishes toward the end of the year. 

The project has the over-arching aim to design the future of digital education at Edinburgh. Our objectives: 

  1. To conduct a participative, institution-wide conversation about digital education and its trajectory at Edinburgh 
  2. To focus on values, curriculum and pedagogy,  not only on technological change 
  3. To surface conversations on the open web, foregrounding student voices through high quality media and building awareness of the project across the sector 
  4. To synthesise project findings into an actionable design for the future of digital education, usable by Schools and Colleges 

It took us a while to work out how best to build a participative vision in such a large, complex university. At the moment Edinburgh has almost 40,000 thousand students, a staff count of just under 10,000, three Colleges, 20 Schools with many, many sub-units, plus of course our support services. It’s probably fair to say that nothing quite like this project has been attempted before here. 

In the end, the process we devised was adapted from the work Keri Facer and colleagues conducted a few years ago as part of a large project looking at long-term sociotechnical futures for education (and published most accessibly in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. Our version has five stages: 

  1. Foresight:  
    1. Taking the community pulse 
    2. Mapping in the form of two foresight reviews focusing on factors likely to influence change in education over the coming years:  
      1. scientific and technical trends  
      2. social and educational factors 
  2. Scenario development: 
    1. Scoping plausible future worlds 
    2. Designing educational futures for each 
  3. Testing ideas and designs 
    1. Student panel 
    2. Academic expert panel 
    3. Children’s panel 
  4. Surfacing insights and recommendations 
  5. Translation into policy and action 

At this point we have just about reached the end of stage 1., having run and written up a series of events and done short interviews with input from around 300 students and staff. These latter we’ve edited thematically and made available here on the website, with write-ups from each of the events also surfaced here in our blog. We’ll be publishing the reviews here shortly too.  

It’s important to the project that we surface as much of our process as possible, trying to show our workings rather than just producing a final report which obscures how it was produced. 

Andthen for Near Future Teaching

Over the next few weeks we are entering the second stage, in which we are really delighted to be working with Zoe and Santini at Andthen, who are helping us turn all our insights to date into a set of designed futures. Up to now we’ve been casting our net as wide as possible to get input from the university community. For this next stage we will be working with our fantastic Task Group, joined by a group of outstanding students, to really focus in on how we would like our digital future to unfold.  

More reports to follow after our workshop at the end of this month…. 

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