|Scenario planning for educators
|Drivers of fundamental change
|Introduction and objectives | Video signposts | Trends | Uncertainties | e-Learning Activity - Scenario matrix | FAQs
The art of scenario planning involves separating what we do and do not know about the future. There are two reasons for this important distinction:
- It helps us to differentiate between predictions of the future versus scenarios for alternative or plausible futures in volatile or fast changing contexts.
- It helps us to focus on where scenario planning works best, namely the major drivers of change where the outcome is unknown.
Attempting to build scenarios based on trends where the outcome is predictable is not effective because there is a mismatch between the purpose and strategic planning tool. Forecasting techniques are better suited for strategic planning when working with predictable trends. In short, uncertainties are the driving forces that are both extremely important, but at the same time highly uncertain and are used as the foundations for building deductive scenarios.
For scenario planning to be effective for today's decision-making, we should avoid the realm of mere speculation or fanciful conjecture. Conceptually, if the future were 100% unpredictable, strategic planning would not be possible. Similarly, if the future was certain, there is no point to planning.
The art of scenario planning is to strike the right balance between the predetermineds and uncertainties. That said, it is not always easy to clarify the difference and in this subsection we will share ideas on identifying key uncertainties relevant to our educational context.
What you will do in this subsection
In this subsection, participants will identify and share suggested uncertainties. Given that these are uncertainties, we will post them in the form of questions, for example:
- Will massive open online courses (MOOCs) displace the traditional university?
Depending on your own context, this question could represent an uncertainty. There are two distinct positions which the answer to this question could assume, thus suggesting that the outcome is unknown, for example:
- Yes: Rapid expansion to free learning opportunities combined with the growing acceptance of alternative forms of certification could conceivably displace the traditional university; or
- No: In the absence of an appropriate revenue model it is conceivable that the costs of developing MOOCs for tertiary education could not be sustained in the long term.
Of course, there are other facets relating to the MOOC question which would be equally interesting to explore using different scenarios.
We will use WikiEducator's "Questionstorm" prototype feature for sharing suggested questions about uncertainties in education. The WikiEducator Questionstorm feature will also enable participants to vote for questions which they deem (or don't) to be strong uncertainties. Participants will also be able to vote on the likelihood of the "yes" or "no" poles of the respective uncertainty.
The list of uncertainties and corresponding rankings will provide ideas for you to select the uncertainties for the scenario you will develop later in this course.