Friday, October 08, 2010

What IS a Learning Futurist?

Good morning!

I am happy to say that I have had a great first week at EDMC.  I haven't been a new employee for about 17 years.  It 's good to re-live this experience.  I have so much to learn about EDMC and about how to manage working from home.  Some how I need to figure out how to create the social element that is naturally in the work place.  I am open to suggestions here.

I ran across this blog post looking as I was looking into the the 2010 World Future Society’s Conference and Education Summit.  One of my first new job tasks is to facilitate a monthly conference call with the Faculty Development Directors of EDMC colleges. Someone will be sharing what she learned from the conference.  This should be very interesting.

I love this notion of being a "learning futurist." To read and talk about trends and how learning will be impacted.  One of the sources of information referenced in the article was social networks.  I am still new to this.  I have recently become more active in LinkedIn and joined some groups through ASCD.  I want to start using Twitter.  Any suggestions on what I should do first? 

Do you have sites that you find valuable related to learning?

Learning is so much fun and tapping into technology is amazing.



  1. Hi Beth,

    My current mentor at Madison College is an avid "gamer" outside of work.

    He has pointed out that while we as educators think many of the activities we create online are engaging, to a gamer they boring.

    To me this is relevant to the social media as well as gaming. We can require students to use these tools but if its in a way that they find uninteresting, boring or worse yet embarrassing it hinders learning.

    I'm not sure how to solve this challenge yet but as I try new things I'll pass them along.


  2. Following up on my thoughts - I tried having students share an assignment they completed (i.e. steps to improve learning and a follow up survey) on facebook.

    Some went along with it excitedly, many were frustrated and/or embarrassed that they would have to put school work in a place that they consider to be personal.

    It was an eye opening experience for me that further muddied the waters of how to use social networking as a tool.


  3. Hi Trey,

    I am not sure if this is relevant to your comments. It's something I have been thinking about this week.

    I am reading a book titled "Learning not Schooling: Re-imagining the Purpose of Education." The focus is on the K-12 education system and younger learners but there are parallels that can be applied to learning in general. Lesch suggests that we should examine how the process of learning evolves naturally and then work outward to design an education system that reflects this process. He says schooling can actually be an impediment to learning. My friend, Karen Barr, described how the learners in her Marketing Principles class wanted to pursue something that they were interested in versus what was planned. Karen helped them run with their interest and tied their exploration and work to the outcomes of the class, I think she taped into her learners' interest thus allowing learning to evolve more naturally. Marketing Principles is an entry level class and she has struggled with how to make it more interesting for learners. This is an amazing example of taking a natural interest of the learner and connecting it to the content.

    Trey, in your Facebook example, do you think you did enough to explain why using Facebook was important to the activity?


  4. Beth,

    Facebook wasn't important to the activity, that was likely part of the problem. It was an attempt to get them involved where I suspected their interests were. And while they do have an interest in Facebook they did not have an interest in sharing what they've learned via Facebook.

    I consistently follow the same path as Karen providing a road map but allowing the students to drive the car. This last week, as I walked into class students told me about a hypnotist on campus during our class. I put a sign up on the door and we went down to observe. We had 2 students participate throughout (2 got sent back to their seats unable to be hypnotized) and the following class we discussed what happened from psychology's view. It was a great success.

    The problem that most educators have with this model is that you never know when these opportunities are going to come up and they can be few and far between. This lack of control is scary, particularly when we work hard to maintain control through classroom management strategies.

    Combine this with the competency based model which requires "x" amount of information to be learned in 16-17 weeks and the anxiety level rises.

    With the hypnotism example, I spent almost 2 hours discussing what I normally spend 20 minutes on. To me, it was worth it because the students were much more engaged but to many other educators this would be viewed as wasteful.



  5. Hi Trey,
    I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Mike and I are navigating between two cities. We spent Monday and Wednesday night in Wausau so his drive “home” after late meetings would be reduced. We still haven’t figure out when we will more officially move to Wausau. Next week we do the same thing. We do have a goal, to be in the Wausau home by Thanksgiving. I suppose that’s good for now.
    I love your example of taking advantage of your student’s interest in the hypnotist and the ties that you could then make to psychology. Do you think the students were able to learn at a deeper level because your were able to tape into an interest of theirs?
    The issue of control comes up allot related to teaching and learning. I wonder what it is we are really trying to control as teachers. Can we really control what a person learns? I think competency based education actually should free us up. If we have a clear understanding of the end, the outcome, the essential understanding, then we can be pretty creative and allow the learner to be creative as well, just like in your example.
    On another note, I have had my first e-book experience. I am going to be participating in the TLT Group session this afternoon. Ned Hallowell will be talking about his book Crazy Busy. Mike recently bought a nook so I downloaded the book this morning and have been experiencing reading with an e-book. EDMC is looking very seriously at e-books so I figure, I better check it out. Hallowell suggests 2 keys to navigating our wired often frenetic world. First to create a positive emotional environment by treasuring and protecting the connections you most about and by finding your rhythm.
    I hope this post find you well.