Recently I was challenged to propose and discuss new developments in education, specifically in online learning. We had before us a list of trends; in order to make that list (as I recall) the trend needed to have a certain number of publications describing it and preferably having researched its use.
The question came up, however, about future trends. That puzzled me; isn’t it an oxymoron? A trend is a trend because it is happening, so this excludes the future. But surely there is a role for those who work in education to “try and see the future” based on the present. What we were being asked to do is sometimes referred to as horizon scanning. I have recently begun to more closely follow the work of Bryan Alexander in the USA and this is his field. There are many others whom I follow and have worked with and for (Gilly Salmon and Grainne Conole particularly) who include this aspect in their work.
What criteria could serve to determine that a notion is a future trend? Publications in the traditional sense seems too slow — the trend would be cold toast by that time. Could number of blog posts serve to help determine? Number of tweets?
It has been said that part of Steve Job’s success was that he could sense the future. But this was happening before the social media era; how did he do it? This 1983 recording is scarily spot on.
Sometimes I have guessed correctly ‘where things were heading’ — but I am trying to identify exactly how might one guess more correctly.
If you have thoughts on this, please do share!
Terese Bird, Educational Designer, Leicester Medical School