Speculative methods and pedagogies for digital learning futures
Presenter: Dr Jen Ross (Edinburgh)
Abstract: Technology-related predictions and promises in digital education and learning contexts work to open up certain futures and close down others. Individual openings and closures have a big impact on what is seen as possible and desirable for teachers, students, and learning communities and organisations. But collectively, predictions and promises also underplay the emergence, complexity and uncertainty of the future. This leaves educators, researchers and learning communities without much-needed conceptual resources for understanding how past, present and future are bound up together in particular ways to produce particular narratives, and what alternative ways of working with the future could look like. Speculative approaches to digital education futures work with the future as a space of uncertainty, and use that uncertainty creatively in the present. They bring particular ideas or issues into focus by envisioning or crafting conditions which may not yet currently exist, including through the use of futures questions and objects-to-think with. Drawing from critical education futures, speculative design and complexity theory, this talk will explore and give examples of speculative methods in practice in digital education, and open up a conversation about their use in research that explores futures for accessibility, adaptability and scale.
Bio: Jen Ross is a senior lecturer in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. She is co-director of the Centre for Research in Digital Education, and the MSc in Education Futures in the Edinburgh Futures Institute. Her research interests include education and cultural heritage futures, online distance education, digital cultural heritage learning, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), digital cultures, and online reflective practices. Her recent book, Digital Futures for Learning (2023), explores speculative approaches to researching and teaching about the future.