Collegiate Summer "Reading" 2013
...and now for something completely different
Prologue: Where I Keep My Promise and Explain Things
Why are we doing this?
Skeptics among you will no doubt ask "why are we doing this?" And that's a good question indeed. So here is, in convenient bullet point form, my answer:
- this continues explorations we've made over the past decade in such events as Keith's challenges and our summer reading (Creating Innovators and Where Good Ideas Come From)
- this also continues some significant changes in how we do things at Collegiate in such areas as project-based learning, diversity, global education, economic education, and technology
- as we move into new spaces in the Sharp Academic Commons and the refurbished Reed-Gumenick library, we have the opportunity to examine new ways of engaging students
- this coming January, we are engaging in a comprehensive reform of our calendar and schedule. Looking at what the world our students will live in is essential if we are going to structure their education in a meaningful way
Finally, and so important that I'm removing the bullet points, the world around us is changing. With online education, Google Glasses, digital textbooks, it's been hard to avoid change over the past few years. But what lies on the horizon? That's why we are inviting the Institute for the Future: to help us investigate what lies ahead.
Your Summer: Step By Step
Cheat Sheet: "Signal" Defined
A signal is typically a small or local innovation or disruption that has the potential to grow in scale and geographic distribution. A signal can be a new product, a new practice, a new market strategy, a new policy, or new technology. It can be an event, a local trend, or an organization. It can also be a recently revealed problem or state of affairs. In short, it is something that catches our attention at one scale and in one locale and points to larger implications for other locales or even globally.
- in the context of society at large. How will the signal impact the world in which we live?
- in the context of your role(s) as an educator. How will the signal impact education?
For many of us, the second part will come more naturally. But before making that connection, please try to spend some time looking at this in a larger context. Sometimes, trends and developments that look like they have little impact on what we do turn out to be far more important than we might initially think.
Identifying Signals: An Example
And so we came across James Burke. Years ago, Burke hosted a program called Connections. In the program, Burke looked for connections between seemingly innocuous things and earth-shattering developments. The show was built around the concept of finding historical signals.
He did what we'd like you to do, only in reverse. He looked backwards, but we'd like you to identify signals and look forward. I know reversing his method presents a unique set of challenges, but it should yield some interesting and important results.
Below is a representative example of the program. It runs around an hour, but given the incredibly light summer "reading", I'm not sure it's overly burdensome.
Step II: Collect and Submit Signals (plus a reading I snuck in)
Please submit at least one signal by August 1 but feel free to submit several.
How Do You Submit Signals?
- the most basic way is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send along pictures, web links, videos, etc.
- if the signal is a physical object that you'd like to bring to display in August, email me at email@example.com to let me know what it is. We can arrange for you to get it to school before August 22
- there are other signals, so don't be limited to what I've listed. Be creative and email me with anything you find!
Epilogue: Recommended Reading
The readings are optional but strongly recommended. More than anything, these are a quick guide on how to do the summer doing.
i) About the Institute for the Future
ii) Three short sections from The Foresight Toolkit:
- an overview of their methodology that will help prepare you to think like a futurist
- Identifying signals will help you know what to look for
- forecasts and perspectives will help you see how these signals may help us understand the future.
iii) Specific forecasts:
- Ten Year Forecast - the Institutes forecast for 2022
- The Future of Work - a series of reports dealing with such topics as demographics, work skills, and (obviously) work itself
- The Future of Learning - a series of reports dealing with such topics as kids technology, knowledge tools of the future, and the future of science
The Sequel: What's Next? What Are We Doing With This?
Following that, we will use the November professional day as a way to showcase how Collegiate is experimenting with these signals and figuring out the best ways to navigate the future. Essentially, we will be starting to dip our toes into the waters of taking our signals and forecasting them into the future: the second part of the Institute's method for thinking like a futurist.
Stay tuned for details.