Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Schooling for Tomorrow scenarios and Science-Fiction

Last autumn I heard a few e-learning keynotes with a heavy science-fiction emphasis. That was wild, I totally loved it. I can not agree more on the idea that working with future scenarios, or science-fiction for that matter, is actually helping the future to come along. It is about helping to shape the future after having peeked in to the future with a positive or a negative outlook. And, I'd like to say that looking or creating scenarios in many perspectives is useful too, as it helps you to see whether this is where you want to end-up or not.

There's been some work going on since the beginning of the millennium regarding scenarios for the future of schooling, we also in EUN worked on that. The OECD report Schooling for Tomorrow, is out too. It's way less exiting than talking about 2048 in a science-fiction scenario, I'm afraid, but still aiming at the same goal - see how technology and network enhanced learning could be used in the days to come.

Of course I picked upon the scenario called "Learning in Networks replacing schools"

This scenario imagines the disappearance of schools per se, replaced by learning networks operating within a highly developed “network society”.

Networks based on diverse cultural, religious and community interests lead to a multitude of diverse formal, non-formal and informal learning settings, with intensive use of ICTs.

How about that for science-fiction?

Well, if it is up to me, I would like to see learning networks in schools even if schools per se are not facing the extinction. You know, before we need to go to a dinosaur museum to see a replica of a teacher.

I don't mind the idea of "networked society", but somehow, when wearing those gray classes, I'm thinking of the efficiency of terrorist cells workings, and how religious and local interest groups could manipulate their own learning interests on me, while at the same time monitoring with whom do I want to learn on the international scale. Yak!

The Schooling for Tomorrow scenarios by OECD are a real tool set for policy-makers, and why not others, to work on. I like practical things like these are. Lately, I've been toying with the idea of making people, who work with education, technology and networks, to write science-fiction short stories of learning in the future. I also think that this would be a very helpful exercise for other PhD students to open up their thinking and not be stuck with what we got now.

How to get started with your own science-fiction story on Schooling for Tomorrow

It's important to understand that it's the journey that is important, not the destination. To say it in other words, I think the whole thinking process to come up with a plot for your story is what counts! Don't worry about picking up the right publisher now ;)

This is what I found out about writing science-fiction, how to get started
  • idea: the premise, the basic thought around which the story will turn
  • a setting: worl for your story to take place in; it can be familiar, or wholly new
  • Characters: two or three, at least, to people your story
  • Aliens: (optional) strange and mysterious beings for your characters to encounter
  • Problem: something your characters want, need, must escape from, etc.
Hmm, I really like to think of Aliens and education...

Next, when you have those sorted out, think about the five dimensional framework from Schooling for Tomorrow. What are:
  • “attitudes, expectations, and political support”,
  • “goals and functions” of education systems
  • “organisations and structures”,
  • the “geo-political aspects”
  • “the teaching force”.
Then, just let it flow!

My own attempt on this is in a wiki. I've already had quite a few engaging and hilarious dinner discussions with my friends about what should the plot be. We never got very far, but it's always been a lot of fun! I only wish we could somehow get the discussion transcripts on the wiki....

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