Friday, August 30, 2013

Assignment 1 - Reflection

Both parts of assignment 1 are officially submitted and out of my hands - a bit scary really! I feel like I could have spent about another month developing my ideas and reading more research - writing and re-writing until my.

I suppose that is a good thing - scenario planning has been eye-opening for me as I imagine what the future could bring for education, and the models of change have helped me visualise solutions and strategies to implement important new technologies with success.

After this first portion of the course, I feel like there are real paths forward for education. It is easy to focus on the issues and frustrations, talking about how we need an educational revolution, but it takes real imagination, inspiration and strategy to start looking at how we achieve this.

Monday, August 12, 2013

W6 - Reflection


I feel like I have been in a whirlwind the past two weeks!

The mOOC was definitely a new and wonderful experience for me. I felt like everything I read flowed so well into the next thing. My initial anxiety and slight frustration at getting all the "pre-learning quiz" questions wrong (except for the last one, on a guess) turned into curiosity and passion for scenario planning. I am a believer for sure!

I felt myself wanting to read and watch everything (as well as take notes), which is probably why I fell behind a bit at times. I found it hard to "skim" or pick and choose what resources to digest. Alas, as it was part of the process, I did cull it down a bit and was able to finish, albeit still a couple of days late.

Reading other people's blog and forum posts has helped me heaps, and I am grateful for such an open and encouraging group of classmates. I have felt more connected to my classmates in this course than in any other online class, which is so great.

I am feeling excited about completing my official assignment for the course, though still overwhelmed as usual, more so now in a positive way, if that makes sense!?

Hope everyone is having a great week - it has been raining on Waiheke, which means water in the tank, so I am having a good start to mine :)


W5 - Article; "Let Them Learn"

Let Them Learn

Today outside the Ministry of Education was the third in a series of protests by young men and women left behind by NZ’s education system. These young people are all in their late teens to early twenties and many of them have not been inside a school building for five or more years. You know some of them; the lucky ones have managed to get jobs in retail and the service industry in their communities. However, the majority are living at home with their families, wondering what their future will look like.

In 2020 it was made mandatory for all new university entrants to have achieved at NCEA level 4. This change had been expected for many years prior and was finally pushed through by the Ministry of Education ten years ago. Since then the expectations of NCEA on students has risen and the workload has increased. With level 1 starting at year 10 and 30 credits per course now the average, even the most gifted high school students are struggling.

I had the opportunity to interview Maureen, a young woman at the protest. She was holding a sign that simply read “Let Us Learn.”

Why are you here today, Maureen?
I couldn’t stay silent any longer. I worry about my younger siblings in this system where everything is about tests.
Did you finish school?
No. I worked hard and made it to year 11, but after two terms of year 12 I was forced to leave school. My mom said they used to only expel students for bad behavior, but now all it takes is a couple of not achieved credits and you risk losing your place in school.
What about your friends that finished school? What are they doing now?
Most of them are at university still, but the ones who graduated recently are in job training or apprenticeships. Schools don’t teach any skills that employers actually need, so most kids end up having to start from scratch in internships and stuff. My dad is an engineer and said it’s pretty bad. He has had to budget money in his business for heaps of on-the-job training.
What about the global information and communication networks? Can’t you get access to school online?
We can, but it is usually aimed toward adults. When I was in school we were only allowed to use our devices when it suited the standards, so I’m not even sure how to do the whole “online learning” thing, and either way, your whole CV is based on the external exams, so a lot of kids just feel like they don’t fit into the system but don’t have any other choice.

It seems that the entire education system is blind to the needs of our society and the realities of our global community. The fact that nearly 30% of students are forced to leave school before the end of year 12 because of their academic record illustrates this; not to mention that the crime rate has risen parallel to this figure. Students are equipped with technology we never could have imagined twenty years ago and they have access to the globe’s information, but they now lack the skills to put these things to use in society. If our content-driven and standardised system continues down this path, we will experience a drop in skills so severe that some organisations may not be able to hire their next generation of workers.Creative and hard-working young people like Maureen are being left behind and if we don’t do something about it soon, we will all face the consequences.

Friday, August 9, 2013

W5 - Reflection, Realisations

As I have been working to prepare and brainstorm for my news article, I have been reading and commenting on other blogs, and I realised that I misunderstood the matrix assignment a bit!

I was focusing on the axis points and not the scenarios themselves. After brainstorming further, I found the analogy process very difficult, but this is what I have come up with.

Scenario 1: (Content & Individualised) - In The Corral

  • Content based learning is somewhat restrictive in that it does not allow the students to explore and discover meaningful skills.
  • Students are, however, being assessed as individuals on their knowledge of the content and therefore enjoy a certain amount of freedom and support.

Scenario 2: (Content & Standarised) - In The Barn

  • Content based learning is somewhat restrictive in that it does not allow the students to explore and discover meaningful skills.
  • Students are assessed in a standarised system and therefore there is not room enough for all students to be assessed effectively.

Scenario 3: (Skills & Standarised) - Being Herded

  • Students are free to learn meaningful skills as part of their education
  • Students are still assessed in a standarised system and therefore some still stay from the herd, so to speak.

Scenario 4: (Skills & Individualised) - Grazing The Open Field
  • Students are free to learn meaningful skills as part of their education
  • Students are assessed in a individualised system, leaving room for everyone to have a meaningful learning experience.

I will have to go back to Creately and change my graphic,  but hopefully that makes my scenarios a bit more clear!

W5 - Uncertainty Matrix

  • Content or Skills Based Learning: this axis is looking at whether learning will be more content or skills based in the future. In my context, this is important based on the fact that it directly effects how teachers would design their curriculum and what would be assessed in the classroom. Will the society of the future demand more skills-based learning so that the students going out into the job force are more directly prepared for their work/place in society? Or will the need for content-based education continue and perhaps grow stronger to ensure graduates have the knowledge to master certain skills later on in their careers?

  • Standardised or Individual Assessment: this axis looks at whether the skills or knowledge will be assessed using a standardised system, as many school have today - or with a more individualised approach to suit each learner's needs. One of the more common discussions among secondary teachers is if the standards of NCEA are beneficial to our students. Of course there are pros and cons, but at the end of the day, we wonder if a national standard will inevitably leave students out and leave them at a disadvantage in their adult lives. Will we continue to try and "fit" all students into this standard? Or will there be a breaking point (or perhaps an innovation) that tips the tables and makes assessment more individualised? Will all students eventually have an IEP that can be analysed against the curriculum and assessment set accordingly?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

W5 - Identifying Trends

  • Online and hybrid/blended learning are becoming more mainstream
  • Technology costs dropping and students bringing more devices
  • Globalization of education; access to language instruction from natives in their own country; access to education in rural areas
  • More students graduating from high school and wanting higher education – continued growth
  • Employer needs are changing – more flexibility/life-long-learning needed
  • Student expectations changing

Two major trends:
  • Student Expectations - students are expecting to be able to use modern technologies such as individual devices and cloud computing. They also expect to be able to utilise the wealth of information available on the internet.
  • This is important because if we want our students to be life-long learners, we need to be a part of their reality and guide them in using these technologies effectively, as well as give them the freedom to guide their own learning.
  • Globalisation - use of social medias and online learning opens up the potential for our students to be involved in a global community; sharing ideas and information as well as forming relationships.
  • This is important because there is no doubt our world is becoming smaller and being able to embrace that will allow people to be more successful and live more flexibly in society.
These connect to my topic in particular - as teachers have started using Moodle to enhance the learning of their students (and facilitate independence - i.e. not as much need for the teacher for things like hand-outs, learning tools, etc), students have quickly adopted it and have begun asking (or demanding in some cases) that all their teachers utilise it.

Further, as NZ is a very globalized nation with a high percentage of citizens who travel, the ability to connect online globally will allow students to make connections and open up life opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have had.

Additional Source Websites to the Horizon Report:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

W5 - Decision-Making Simulation

The scenario I am looking at is called “A Vibrant Learning Grid” from the Knowledge Works resources “Learning in 2025.” I am looking through the lens of a lead learning agent in a medium-sized rural community. The learning environment is no longer characterized by a local school, though the school buildings still exist for learning purposes.

In this scenario, learning is much more flexible and community based, with students enjoying individualised programs to suit their needs. The drivers of change here would have been a need for more individualised and flexible curriculums to prepare students for an evolving job market, as well as a need to move away from standardised learning where “one size fits all” and toward a more realistic and apprentice style approach.
Source Website:

List of recommended decisions:
  • Design initiatives in the community where students from low-income or at-risk homes (where the parents may not be able to be as directly involved in their child’s education) so that all children are still able to take advantage of the best possible resources and teachers/motivators.
  • Involve a variety of educators (“learning agents”) as well as community members in the planning and organisation of the community’s educational goals and values.
  • Establish a team of people to research and keep abreast to the evolving job market so as to inform the learning agents and best prepare the children in our community for their futures
  • Ensure that children in the community are able to both virtually and physically reach outside of the rural community and into the wider community (nationally and internationally).
  • Develop a plan where students are still receiving a well-rounded education amongst their more individualised learning.

My two most important strategic decisions:
  • Design initiatives in the community where students from low-income or at-risk homes (where the parents may not be able to be as directly involved in their child’s education) so that all children are still able to take advantage of the best possible resources and teachers/motivators.
  • Ensure that children in the community are able to both virtually and physically reach outside of the rural community and into the wider community (nationally and internationally).

I chose these because the first decision focuses on one of the major worries in this scenario – that education will not be available equally to all students. The second decision would be integral as this scenario’s education system is very community-based which could end up limiting students’ vision of where their future could lead.

Transferability of my recommended decisions for the scenarios alternatives:

Some of these decisions, such as the development of teams within the community, would not translate to the “provider” scenarios, but would be even more integral in the “Learners Forage for Resources” scenario (though here, they would be more difficult to implement). I think that in all scenarios, I would make it a priority to make sure that education is equitable so that children born into low-income or at-risk circumstances would still have every chance and the support to take charge of their life and education.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

W4 - Scenario Planning; To Boldy Go Where No One Has Gone Before!

I think that, based on the Shell scenario planning and DHL's proposals, it seems that scenario planning is something that every organisation would benefit from doing at least once. I think the advantages are obvious: that your business (and most importantly, the people involved) are prepared for multiple futures, which gives the organisation more confidence and flexibility in moving forward. 

The disadvantages are that it may be difficult for the people involved to open up enough in order to benefit from the process of scenario planning (or change a plan already in place). Further, if people end up getting attached to (or hopeful for) one of the scenarios in particular, the organisation might inadvertently plan for that future, narrowing their planning even further. 

I think scenario planning, or some form of it, should be deemed crucial for all levels of education - especially nowadays, when technology is evolving so quickly. Perhaps if we embraced more of the successful practices that businesses utilise, education would be more flexible as a professional organisation.

I keep hearing people talk the need for a revolution in education, and I couldn't agree more - but I think it is frightening to plan any revolution when you don't know what the future might bring. Will there be unrest and disorganisation, as there often is after a revolution? If we could plan for multiple futures - envisioning where we want education to go (and where we fear it is heading) with an open mind and consider all the factors in our "arena" that might affect those futures - we could move forward more confidently and more unified as educational professionals.

I hope to continue to gain knowledge and understanding about scenario planning and specifically, how it relates to education. I would also be interested in any scenario planning that has been done for education in the past. Overall, I want to explore how scenario planning could relate to my context (Moodle and independent learning) and use it as part of the "lense" of change for my assignments.

Friday, August 2, 2013

W4 - Important Skills for Scenario Planning

In his video on scenario planning, Oliver Freeman states that the three most important skills for scenario planners are first, the ability to assimilate/synthesise a variety of input on the issues or influences affecting an organisation. Second, they need to have the ability to "suspend disbelief" and be open minded when it comes to imagining futures. Third, they need to be able to see the importance of the "experiential learning" and how the process of scenario planning is just as, if not more important than the outcome of the plan.

L. Marines and K. Newcombe state that scenarios should be as objective as possible and "scenario planners should be alert for their own biases and emotional predilections."

Though I feel I still have much to learn and understand about scenario planning, if I had to sum up the three most important skills for scenario planners, I would choose these:

1. Open-mindedness and ability to be objective when looking at possible futures
2. Appreciation of the journey of scenario planning being more important than the destination
3. Ability to include viewpoints from many different players, including those outside the organisation

I can see how scenario planning would be a challenging endeavour for some, as it takes on a very artistic approach. As a musician and music teacher, I appreciate anything artistic or creative/imaginative, and think that this type of approach mirrors our humanity much more realistically. Some people are very afraid of the unpredictable and so an approach that allows them to predict and give them a seeming sense of control would be more attractive than SP, which would force them to accept the inherent unpredictability of our world.


Freeman, O. (2009). Scenario planning. Retrieved from

Marines, L. & Newcombe, K. (2009). Managing uncertainty through strategic thinking. FMI Quarterly, (1), 62-71

W4 - "Scenarios can’t predict the future, so what’s the point?"

My first response to this statement is, well, that no one can truly predict the future. However, that doesn't mean that we stop trying to improve our society through a variety of types of planning. 

In learning about scenario planning, it seems that the purpose isn't to predict anything, but instead to open our minds to possible futures and go from there. The simple act of opening our minds in this way will make us better prepared for the reality of an uncertain future.

Oliver Freeman describes SP as "engaging with the uncertainty of the future" and "thinking the unthinkable." Therefore, a person wanting to predict the future in the first place is never going to be satisfied with scenario planning. 

The point is to change your way of thinking away from predicting the future (which is impossible anyway) and begin embracing the uncertainty in order to move forward more flexibly and with a more comprehensive view of your own context/organisation.

Freeman, O. (2009). Scenario planning. Retrieved from

W4 - Reflection

This has been a busy week!

My NCEA music students just finished their performance assessment concerts, which meant two 15 hour school days for me, plus lots of extra rehearsal time with nervous teenagers.

I am just now catching up with the second session of SP4Ed and feeling a little behind. The timing of the activities also seems to be on the short side - it takes me quite a lot longer than just a few minutes to complete each activity (as well as do the readings and watch the videos, etc).

At the moment, balancing the large amount of reading as well as the activities is proving a bit stressful, but I am working through it and trying to find a better schedule for myself to be able to work through it all (and understand what I am doing). Hopefully I will be able to get caught up this weekend and be back on track!

I am taking notes in my Google Drive (what did I ever do without it?) and looking forward to some future "ah hah!" moments where all the scenario planning, change and adoption models, etc will all start to connect for me.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!