K-12 Summit - Part 3: Designing Learning Futures: Navigating Toward The Next Normal

Concurrent Session 7
K-12 OLC Session

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Brief Abstract

Given the rapid disruption and changes brought on by COVID-19, we know that there will be no returning “back to normal.” In this session, we want to explore ways in which educators and leaders can begin to design and give shape to a new normal, even through all the uncertainty of now. Using the mindsets and tools of design and strategic foresight, we will explore how we might reimagine our teaching and learning environments - particularly online and digital learning environments - by addressing and harnessing the plausible outcomes and impacts of our collective uncertainty. We will also explore and practice with emerging tools and strategies for leading change in a rapidly-changing world.

Presenters

Alexander (Alex) Case is the OLC Associate Vice President of Strategic Partnership and Grants. In this capacity, he is responsible for growing OLC’s reach in the areas of grants, strategic partnerships, and consulting. Alex brings a diverse array of experience to this position from federal civil service, K-12, and higher education leadership roles. He is eager to affirm OLC’s thought leadership while managing multifaceted relationships with institutions, organizations, associations, foundations, and corporate partners. He is also committed to charting our community’s growth in the K-12 and international sectors. Prior to joining the OLC, Alex served as the Interim Director of Student Services (Dean of Students) and Associate Director of Instructional Design and Development for the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Online program. NOVA is a member of the 24-school Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and is among the largest community colleges in the nation. There, he oversaw creation and maintenance of an online portfolio of 400 online asynchronous courses spanning all academic pathways, offered in over 1,200 sections per semester, and serving 23,000 students per year. He was also involved in his state system’s work to extend program completion outcomes state-wide via the Online Virginia Network and oversaw his entire online program portfolio’s learning management system conversion. Alex began his education career in the K-12 sector where he was a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, and school-based administrator for a decade. His final role was as principal of socio-economically and racially diverse high school where he led 2,600 students and 350-person multigenerational staff on a three-building campus in Fairfax County, Virginia. He successfully led his school out of accreditation with warning status in one year, oversaw the development of a governor’s career and technical education academy, and deepened its Blue Ribbon Award-winning fine and performing arts center. Prior to teaching, Alex held positions in training, business management, and strategic planning for the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. Alex completed his B.A. in history, political science, and secondary education from the University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, Virginia), instructional design coursework from George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia), a M.Ed. in Education Leadership from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia), and is presently completing a dissertation towards a Ph.D. in Education at George Mason University.
It turns out a bunch of nomadic-yet-related experiences and some determination to overcome imposter syndrome and some bourbon with friends make for an interesting life and career path. Ben is the Lead Design Strategist in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, where he and his team are partnering with local community schools and organizations to reimagine and redesign K12 education. A veteran K12 educator and higher ed instructional designer, Ben is fascinated with what happens when smart and curious people get in a room and work really hard at thinking about and taking the next step toward what could be - and trying to make that happen more.
Dr. Punya Mishra is Associate Dean of Scholarship & Innovation and Professor in the Division of Educational Leadership & Innovation in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. He also has an affiliate appointment in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. He is internationally recognized for his work in technology integration in teaching; the role of creativity and aesthetics in learning; and the application of design-based approaches to educational innovation. He has received over $7 million in grants; published over 100 articles and edited 3 books. He is an award-winning teacher, an engaging public speaker, as well as an accomplished visual artist and poet. You can learn more about him at http://punyamishra.com/ and about the Office of Scholarship & Innovation at http://education.asu.edu/oofsi/.
Dr. Sean M. Leahy is an international technologist, futurist, and educator serving as the Director of Technology Initiatives within the Office of Scholarship and Innovation in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. He is the founding director of the IgnitED Labs, an innovative emerging technology laboratory at ASU, and the Executive Producer for the Learning Futures podcast. His scholarly focus is on the futures of educational technology, emerging technologies, and media production. Dr. Leahy’s work has been represented in international journals, conferences, invited keynotes and lectures, and the U.S. Department of State Speaker Program. Dr. Leahy is an experienced educator creating award winning curriculum in higher education and is an Apple Teacher with Swift Playgrounds recognition. Dr. Leahy’s Futures Studies approach to educational technology aims to assist decision makers and educational leaders in strategic foresight and developing a futures thinking mindset for the near future and beyond, as well as preparing a new workforce to handle emergent technologies in teaching and learning including artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality (XR), and Internet of things (IoT).

Extended Abstract

We are certainly living through a volatile, complex, uncertain, and ambiguous (VUCA) world at the present moment, and its impacts have been felt perhaps more deeply and tangibly in K12 education than anywhere else - both at global level and within our local schools and communities. Given the rapid disruption and changes brought on by COVID-19, we know that there will be no returning “back to normal.” While schools, educators, students and families have all navigated the past year in different ways and with different degrees of hardship, challenge, and even success - we still look forward to establishing a future sense of normalcy, however the new normal takes shape.

In this session, we want to explore some of the ways in which educators and leaders can begin to design and give shape to this new normal, despite all the uncertainty of now. Given all that educators and communities are facing, it’s worth exploring how we might reimagine our teaching and learning environments - particularly online and digital learning environments - by addressing and harnessing the plausible outcomes and impacts of our collective uncertainty.

We will invite participants to learn about and  experiment with emergent design and strategic foresight tools that can reveal risks and opportunities, helping us prioritize the work needed to build the next normal. The goal of this session is not to predict what will happen in the future, but to stretch the imagination (and ourselves!) to think about what we would like to have happen, using a framework and tools for how it might happen. The maxim “we cannot predict the future, but we can invent it “ is often cited as a call to design and use strategic forecasting tools and methodologies. Join us as we create a studio space to explore a set of tools and reflective prompts that we’re describing as Learning Futures.