Futures of Education Graduate Studies for Education Leaders Learning to Become
UNESCO’s Futures of Education: Learning to become initiative was used as a point of departure in two graduate-level pilot courses focused on futures literacy and leadership in education. Taught at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, and the University of Alberta, Edmonton in July and August 2020, thirty-five students (school leaders, teachers and others connected to the education sector such as librarians) engaged in an intense, one-week graduate level classes taught both synchronously and asynchronously.
The aim was to engage practitioners in understanding the ways in which the flourishing field of futures studies can build the capacity to democratize discussions about the global futures of education. Pivotal issues in education were addressed by considering the possible and probable futures of large-scale assessment, the mental health of students and practitioners, the role of technology in teaching and learning and the precarity of public education.
Students applied strategic foresight tools including scenario development, pattern analysis using strategies like Futures Wheels, Causal Layered Analysis and ‘The Thing from The Future’ card game. The coursework included engagement with transdisciplinary readings, peer-to-peer dialogue and foresight activities. Guest speakers from around the world also engaged with students, deepening their understanding of key topics.
The final course project which included a Storyboarding activity and a paper, had four purposes: (1) provide an opportunity to explore the futures of an issue that mattered in school-communities; (2) demonstrate the appropriate use of futures methods; (3) connect students’ thinking and work to UNESCO’s futures literacy work in education; and (4) identify the leadership implications of their work. Student papers explored a range of topics from the future of public libraries, universal and indigenous ways of knowing, collective teacher efficacy, inclusion, rethinking the assessment of learning, outdoor education in China, international education, the place of nutrition of learning and the accreditation of programs in medical education. An annotated list of the final student papers with a link to the individual student final projects including contact information of the authors is available here.