Speculative fiction in edtech and digital learning research

Speculative fiction

I am increasingly drawn to the writing of speculative fiction as a way to study, imagine, and critique the future of education. Jen Ross (who, incidentally and fortuitously, is developing an Education Futures pathway, and would love your feedback) recently argued for engaging speculative methods in digital education research, and that work has been very helpful.

While some may discount these approaches and view them as a far-cry from “serious” scholarship and “real science,” Plowman argues that “narrative isn’t just a shaping device: it helps us think, remember, communicate, and make sense of ourselves and the world…The role of narrative is not therefore simply aesthetic, it is central to our cognition from earliest childhood.” Importantly, many fields already engage storytelling and narrative for both pedagogical and knowledge-discovery purposes. For instance,

  • one of the most popular books in instructional design is the ID CaseBook which presents numerous case studies of individuals engaging with typical instructional design problems and issues
  • here’s a bit of work done on using story completion methods in qualitative research
  • and some work in sociological fiction, including some speculative fiction

But, what would speculative fiction concerned with the future of education or some aspect of digital learning look like? Here’s just a few examples:

What are your thoughts the use of fiction for scholarship? Have you read any other fiction set in the near-future that deals with education?


Digital Transformation in BC Higher Education


New semester, new assignments

1 Comment

  1. Jen Ross

    hi George! I’m enthusiastic about this – in fact, I’ve set my students in the coming semester’s ‘digital futures for learning’ course a ‘stories from the future’ task (small, low-stakes) that I hope will generate rich discussion. Generally what I’m trying to do on this course is to treat futures-thinking critically – and think that storytelling is one really productive way to do this. If students share any of their stories online, they’ll be using the hashtag #dfled, in mid October!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén