UBTech Conference: Education – Navigating an uncertain future
Education in Uncertain Times was the topic of the afternoon for Daniel Rasmus of Bellevue College (Neb.). Rasmus is the author of Management by Design: Applying Design Principles to the Work Experience (2010) and Listening to the Future: Why It’s Everybody’s Business (2008). He shared various uncertainties facing education—including technology, funding and costs, textbooks and content, degrees vs. skills, the influence of gaming, the use of analytics, the regulatory environment, and the role of mega-foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. However, he explained, techniques such as scenario planning can be used to navigate through an uncertain future.
The idea is to come up with strategies on top of the cloud of uncertainty, taking the uncertainties you’re aware of and creating various stories about the future. Keep in mind, he said, that scenarios give you permission to imagine a positive future, not just a worrisome one. For example, one scenario is that there won’t always be budget cuts.
Rasmus also discussed why “accreditation will ruin your strategic planning.” This is because there’s no good definition or criteria for evaluating strategic plans, forcing organizations to offer evidence for past performance with strategic planning as just a check mark on the accreditation list. That encourages the status quo, not innovation and focuses on the mission statement while ignoring process.
Why not put a “My Uncertainties” sign on the door of your office, he suggested. For example, the sign might say “What constitutes good learning?” and “Where will curriculum come from?” Such a sign could serve as a reminder of the issues and challenges you face on the job and keep you moving toward the uncertain future with a focus on navigating that world.
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.