One of the knowledge mobilization activities of my SSHRC grant on education futures was a podcast. This post shares episode 7 of 7.

First, a bit of background

The future of education is open and contested. In this podcast we approach the future of education from a storytelling perspective.Stories about the future of education are diverse, complex, and run the gamut of wild hope to doom and despair. In some of these stories techno-optimism drives what is thought to be possible. In others, education is imagined to be a regenerative cultural force. In yet others, the impact of capitalism and authoritarian systems of surveillance already taking hold in education create dystopian spaces of control and management. The stories we tell have the power to create the world we live in. Understanding the stories we tell about what is possible, and the trends in those stories, can give us insight into the present, into ourselves and each other, and the worlds we might seek to or are already in the process of creating.

What are the stories being told about the future of higher education today? Who tells them? What do these stories reveal about our values and our assumptions? What do they reveal about technology and about our universities? What do they say about the future, but also about the present? The speculative learning futures podcast,brings together diverse voices and perspectives, from artists to scholars of different backgrounds, to imagine and discuss the future of education and the role of storytelling in moving towards or away from those futures. [As an aside: More on this questions in this paper and this paper. And if you have a paper of yours that centers these questions, consider submitting it to a journal special issue I am co-editing].

Subscribe to all episodes on Google, Apple, or Spotify. Or, if you prefer to download the mp3 files without subscribing, you can download all of them from here.

Episode 6

In this episode, George and Shandell sit down with Mark Brown and Kathrin Otrel-Cassto bring a sense of closure to the podcast. Our guests voice similar hopes to other guests around a desire for slower, more ethical futures. We also get into the nitty gritty of what futures can and can’t do for us in the present. What are we actually doing when we imagine the future? What are the limits of this work? What are our responsibilities as publicly-funded scholars when  futures methodologies become part of how we do research?

Professor Mark Borwn has over 30-years experience of working in Higher Education and has played key leadership roles in the development, implementation and evaluation of several major university-wide digital learning and teaching initiatives. Before taking up his current position, as Ireland’s first Chair in Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning, Mark was Director of the National Centre for Teaching and Learning at Massey University, New Zealand.

Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Ph.D., is Professor of educational research and digital transformation at the University of Graz, Austria. Her research methods are in many cases grounded in visual ethnography. Her interest in visuality has led to the establishment of a video research laboratory at her previous workplace at the University of Aalborg in Denmark and in Graz she has built the first Austrian video case archive for teacher education. She is the coordinator of the ESERA SIG on video based research and has a published record on topics to do with visuality in educational research.


We are deeply grateful to the guests who spoke with us for each of the episodes of this series. We’re also fraeful to the Digital Public Interest Collective for their support, in dedicating the third series of the Digital Public Interest Collective podcast to education. Editing was provided by Andrea Galizia, and production advice was provided by Dr. Jaigris Hodson. The podcast was produced with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Grant #430-2020-00404)