Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Dialogue about the Future Trends in Education

Today, I attended a loosely formed group meeting that was called "Future Trends in Education Workshop and Think Tank." When Tony Cook suggested that I attend, I was glad to be part of discussion, but it was unclear what the meeting would be like and what would be discussed.

I supposed I was worried the meeting would be a waste of time. I was thinking it would be another meeting where people talk about how learning styles, environments and technologies are changing, but don't really propose any different methods or philosophies for the future. Often after a declaration of how trends are shaping our future, the discussion turns how to address the trends which includes methods that are only slightly improved over what we are currently doing. For instance, one might suggest providing education online in the same way we lecture in classrooms or placing supporting materials for classes in closed course management systems. These discussions clearly do not show an understanding of open, free flowing opportunities that we should be considering.

This meeting wasn't really a meeting at all. It was more like a series of conversations.

In today's dialogue which was led by Dr. Joseph Pascarelli, one of the questions (I rephrased it) was "If we believe that the Map of the Future Forces is the way life is changing, then how can we should education change?"

During the discussions, I wrote words that people said that described education for the future. They are not in any particular order or importance: diversity, access, inclusive, open, flexible, connected, across, collective, creative, responsive, change, ideas, shift, sustainable. (Note: Although the discussion centered around education, I believe these same changes affect management, leadership, marketing, and communications).

We also discussed (among other topics):

1. what we are about. We are part of a land-grant institution, thus we should be embracing methods, engagement, and open systems that provide education to our communities. We have the resources, thus why aren't we utilizing those resources, technologies, and opportunities that enrich the lives of others? (We do this some, but not broadly across the university.)

2. generating an environment where creative thinking can occur.

3. that we need to be responsive.

4, that we need to build creative systems.

Some interesting quotes during the meeting that I might ponder and possibly investigate later are:

"Most change happens because of a surprise, not because of a strategic plan."

"Make work more like fun."

"We're looking for opportunities to learn in a safe environment."

Most meetings have agendas that allow discussions, but the decisions are already somewhat formed. Instead dialogues should take place first. (Paraphrased)

Some sources shared during the meeting are:

Etiene Wenger Community of practice and social learning

Margaret Wheatley Listening as part of leadership

Fostering Learning in Networked World (NASA) pdf

Knowledge Works

Capra, F. Center of Ecoliteracy pdf

PeaceJam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace

This meeting was not really a meeting, but was more like a conglomeration of discussions that happen during conferences in the hallways at break-time. We are planning to meet again and are careful not to have too much structure, but will continue the dialogue. I am looking forward to more reflection and discussions that hopefully will result in changes in approaches to education. Tags: ,,

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