Up to this point in my graduate education here at Post, I’ve been focusing specifically on online education and learning, as that’s what my grad certificate was in. Now that I’ve started on the M.Ed. program, I’m learning more about something called “futuring.” Futuring, for the record, is essentially when one looks at past events to predict and plan for future ones. At least, that’s the best as I can figure.
Throughout the first half of the class, there’s been a lot of focus on futuring and its role in education. To be fair, it seems like a terrific idea–read about current trends, analyze what they mean for future trends, develop a number of ideas about what could happen in the future, and plan for them–that’s futuring in a nutshell (Sobrero, 2004). Indeed, our final project for this class is to develop a Future Vision of Education Case Study; that is, identify what our personal utopian ideal is for our educational institution, and plan for how to get there. Which, of course, left me scratching my head a little bit. How, exactly, do I do that? So I turned to my academic success counselor Mike (who, and I could never say this enough, is absolutely amazing), and I asked him.
Now, let me pause here for a moment and say that I also teach here, and one of my biggest pet peeves, and biggest issues, is that some students come to me completely unprepared. Unprofessional writing, text speak, horrible grammar and spelling, improper APA format–and while I teach a lower level course, it’s not one of the first the students take, so by the time they get to me, at least *some* of this should be second nature. I shouldn’t have to tell them how to properly cite APA format. I shouldn’t have to tell them that using text speak is inappropriate in a college classroom.
So when Mike asked me what the future of my classroom and my students looked like, I told him. And from there, my future vision was born. And I could build a solid future vision case study from this; indeed, I will do exactly that, because at the end of the day, it’s necessary.
I was all sold to write this post based solely on the idea of futuring and how vital it is to the goals and plans of higher education. As I was researching, though, I found an article written a couple of days ago on Inside Higher Ed, an online source for news, jobs, and opinions on higher education (About Us: Inside Higher Ed, n.d.). This article talked about how the future of the future of higher education maybe doesn’t quite do what we think, or want, it to do. The author claims that the futuring of higher education usually goes one of two ways–it either takes “the next big thing” and expand from the inside out, or take the “next big thing” and embed it within the structure from the outside in (Butin, 2015). Butin (2015) uses the University of Florida’s failed attempt to put its traditional model onto an online platform as an example of the first path, and Minerva, a for-profit startup that looks like it sends students around the world to learn, as the second path. He argues, though, that the vision is never about the actual education, but more about the technology–and I can’t honestly say he’s wrong.
If you think about it, everything we’ve done so far in the course regarding futuring includes the use of technology to improve it, regardless of what’s wrong with it. Is that truly what we want for future students? A future full of technology but broken education? I certainly don’t want that. But what’s the alternative? Butin (2015) argues that the way to see a more realistic future is twofold–envision how technology can make the present better for the vast majority of current students, and accept that digital learning technologies are better at transmitting information which, he argues, would require a drastic rethinking of what faculty do, of what and how students learn, and what we want them to accomplish.
Can we do it? I like to think so.
About Us: Inside Higher Ed. (n.d.). Retrieved from Inside Higher Ed:
Butin, D. (2015, November 9). The Future of the Future of Higher Education. Higher Ed Beta.
Sobrero, P. (2004). The Steps for Futuring. Journal of Extension, 42(3). Retrieved from