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George Veletsianos, PhD

What’s the future like? Speculative Methods in Networked Learning workshop

Jen Ross and I are leading a workshop on speculative methods as part of the 2020 Networked Learning (online) conference. It takes place on May 19 at 8am Pacific (4pm UK) and it’s free to attend. Our session will be held in this Adobe connect room: https://c.deic.dk/aristotle/

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, United States. Unsplash.

The workshop will last 55 minutes. Our schedule is as follows:

Workshop Description

The goal of this workshop is to introduce participants to speculative methods and explore their application to the field as a way of imagining potential futures and scenarios for learning, design, and technology. We define speculative methods as “research approaches that explore and create possible futures under conditions of complexity and uncertainty” (Ross, 2018). We aim to facilitate a broader conversation regarding the future of technology and networks in education through the exploration of the use of speculative methods as research methodologies.

Recent years have seen increased interest in and discussion of education futures. Some of the emergent discussions include conversations around how technologies manifest themselves in our daily lives and educational experiences (Aagaard, 2018), and what may be appropriate pedagogies to equip learners for the future economy (Facer & Sandford, 2010). As Ross (2017) argues, envisioning futures also “inform[s] us about what matters now in the field, what issues and problems we have inherited and what debates define what can or cannot be currently thought about or imagined” (p. 220).

Considering that the current state of education, at all levels, is situated within a context of ever-evolving social, cultural, political, and technological shifts, there is a need for networked learning scholars and practitioners to explore various ways that they can imagine and design future potentials and realities. The use of speculative methods enables researchers to ascertain and discern between probable, possible, and preferable trajectories (Bell, 2017) to offer evidence-based guidance when making current decisions related to networked learning, and to explore what may or may not be possible in their own contexts. They also give us tools for taking critical perspectives on the nature of the future itself, and how we think about and work towards particular education futures (Facer 2016). In prior iterations of this workshop (Veletsianos, Belikov, & Johnson, 2019), participants appreciated being able to think creatively about the future and identify micro, meso, and macro obstacles to reaching them.

Intended Audience

Individuals interested in critically exploring and designing education futures. These include students and academics (who may be interested in applying this method to their scholarship), and practitioners such as learning designers or administrators (who may be interested in using this method in institutional change-making efforts). This workshop is appropriate for anyone with an interest in designing and developing learning environments, creating new learning experiences, exploring the opportunities and challenges created by new or current technologies, leading conversations at their institutions around potential futures for their programs and departments, and exploring a variety of other potential futures for their work and scholarship.


What kinds of education models are available to Canadian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)? 3/4


Emerging COVID-19 scholarship related to teaching, learning, and technology


  1. Hello George – this sounds very interesting. Would you be able to provide the full references for the authors you cite? Thanks – Jenny

    • Thank you, Jenny! And of course. References below:

      Aagaard, J. (2018). Magnetic and multistable: Reinterpreting the affordances of educational technology. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 15(1), 4.

      Bell, W. (2017). Foundations of futures studies: History, purposes, and knowledge (Vol. 1). New York: Routledge.

      Facer, K. (2016). ‘Using the Future in Education: Creating Space for Openness, Hope and Novelty’, in Lees, H. E. and Noddings, N. (eds) The Palgrave International Handbook of Alternative Education. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 63–78.

      Facer, K. & Sandford, R. (2010). The next 25 years?: Future scenarios and future directions for education and technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26, 74-93.

      Ross, J. (2017). Speculative method in digital education research. Learning, Media and Technology, 42(2), 214-229, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2016.1160927

      Veletsianos, G., Belikov, O., Johnson, N. (2019). Speculative Methods in Learning, Design, and Technology. Association for Educational Communications and Technology International Convention (AECT), October 2019, Las Vegas, NV.

  2. Thank you George. I enjoyed your workshop yesterday – very thought-provoking. I just wish it had been longer. I thought the scenarios you presented were perfectly plausible (even more so now, when we have seen education going online the world over). I hope educators of the future will not sleep-walk into these scenarios so that they become a reality. And whilst the workshop was about looking to the future, I hope we will not lost sight of learning from the past. Thank you again. Jenny

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