Imagine FutureEd Competition Invites Students’ Views of the Future

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By Katherine Prince, Senior Director, Strategic Foresight, KnowledgeWorks

Even though my job focuses on the future of learning, I did not begin learning to think about the future until I was thirty-five years old. Without much conceptual framework to support my introduction to KnowledgeWorks’ first ten-year forecast, the future of education seemed like a pretty dystopian place. KnowledgeWorks and Teach the Future think that students would benefit from learning to think about the future a lot sooner and from having tools and frameworks for understanding how to track and respond to change.

We also think that education transformation should be informed by students’ views of how the future of learning might unfold. To that end, we are hosting a student design competition, Imagine FutureEd.

Open to anyone aged 13-18 who is based in the U.S., Imagine FutureEd invites participants to submit written scenarios, or stories, describing possible futures of learning. Participants also have the option of producing accompanying artifacts from the future, or images illustrating their scenarios. Submissions will be accepted from February 20 through March 27, but you can sign up at any time.

Youth participants can work on their own or with the support of an adult facilitator in any setting. We would love to see what youth create with the support of museum educators or the classroom teachers and families whom they support! Museum educators’ creativity and awareness of the importance of community learning venues throughout people’s lifetimes promise to bring energy and breadth to competition submissions.

To help youth and adult facilitators engage with changes on the horizon and to guide the creation of submissions, KnowledgeWorks and Teach the Future will supply five custom activities and supporting materials. The full set of activities will take approximately 2.5 hours, but participants can select from or modify them as needed or can take other approaches to creating competition submissions.

Three scenarios and three artifacts from the future will be selected as winning submissions, with prizes for both the students creating them and supporting adults. KnowledgeWorks also plans to publish most entries in a back-to-school look book in the fall of 2017.

Since my first glimpse of a future forecast, I have come to see the importance and excitement of projecting future possibilities and envisioning ideal futures. We need to know where we want to go before we can figure out how to get there. We need to hold on to where we want to go as we course correct in response to emerging developments. Looking across multiple plausible futures can help us decide what we want and can help us prepare no matter what comes to pass. The sooner we learn how to do that, the sooner we will feel like we can steer our own lives and influence the things about which we care.

Having spent the last year hearing from adults in informal and community-based learning, K-12 school-based education, and higher education, I am looking forward to seeing what scenarios and artifacts youth will create as they explore the future of learning. Will they see room to normalize lifelong, life-wide learning? To curate learning challenges and pathways? To foster community-wide learning ecosystems? To expand credentialing to take into account learning that happens throughout communities?

Whatever the scenarios and artifacts from the future depict, I am looking forward to learning from students’ views of the future of learning. I hope you will join the Imagine FutureEd competition! Direct questions to imaginefutureed@knowledgeworks.org.

Bio:Katherine Prince leads KnowledgeWorks’ exploration of the future of learning. She authors forecasts and helps education stakeholders around the U.S. grapple with future possibilities to inform vision and shape strategy. @katprince @knowledgeworks #FutureEd