Future Foresight: 3 Alternative Futures by LLInC

Yentl Croese
Author: Yentl Croese

Welcome to the fourth and, for now, final article in our series on Future Foresight.  

Here, in this blog, we will take a closer look at three future scenarios of particular interest to LLInC – who knows, perhaps they might spark your interest too?

To discover more about Future Foresight as a concept, feel welcome to read our introduction piece. If you are keen to know more about our Future Foresight pilot project, our article on the Metauniversity of the Netherlands is the one for you! Lastly, if you are intrigued to see how we have navigated the various phases of the Innovation Maturity Model, such an insight is also available. 

Future 1: AI in Education  

How might the future of AI look within an educational context? Can you imagine AI being taught as a subject in schools, forming as normal a part of our lives as smartphones do at present? Such a change would bring much to take into consideration. How, for example, could AI be used to make education more accessible and inclusive? What would be the risks of placing excessive trust in this form of technology? 

The following scenarios suggest only two of the many possible ways in which AI could, one day, impact education.

Scenario One

While preparing his breakfast, Jaap consults Olexo (AI) about his due tasks for university. The device reminds him of the content he still hasnt reviewed for the next class. He has a shift at the store today, so he asks Olexo to summarise the remaining articles into podcasts that he can listen to while loading shelves. The advisor also suggests that he review the theory on institutional isomorphismgiven his performance in the last quiz. Jaap agrees and tells Olexo to fetch his teachers feedback from Brightspace so that he can re-read it over coffee. As he reviews the requested information on his phone, Jaap starts wondering if he really wants to do a masters in Political Science. He asks the assistant for course suggestions, as a result of which it suggests five options at different universities. The assistant explains that the recommendations were mainly based on his course performance, book purchasing history, search data, and Netflix preferences. Before he jumps on the bike, he asks Olexo to run a 10-minute language learning activity to exercise his Italian pronunciation on the way to class”.

Scenario Two

“Meanwhile, at the Leiden University Faculty of Governance and Interplanetary Affairs, teacher Leonie has just come out of her weekly check-in with teaching support staff. She asks her personal Darkspace assistant if any student questions remain unresolved. The assistant covers most course and even content-related questions, but she knows that some students still prefer interacting with her directly. The assistant names three students: Jaap, Nienke and Rami who appear to struggle with historical institutionalism but have otherwise good grades. Leonie prompts the assistant to prepare a short quiz and design a short-term assessment to refresh that content during the next class. Receiving the instruction, the assistant also warns her that some international students have expressed their frustration for not being able to link their personal AI assistants to the course. Remembering that complaint, she asks Darkspace to draft an email to share that concern to FB-SOZ. To prepare her next class, she asks the assistant to set up a virtual classroom to test-run a new didactical approach provided by LLInC. As she puts on the VR device, the Darkspace assistant asks if she wants models to simulate student interventions based on questions asked by this semesters workgroups. She consents to this”.

Future 2: Learning becomes a personalised lifelong journey 

What if, in ten years from now, the word ‘student’ has lost something of its distinction. Following rapid technological and societal changes, everyone has become a student, whether they are seven or sixty-seven. What would a society look like in which there is a work-learn balance for all employees, including the older generation? 

The following scenario demonstrates just one of the ways in which we at LLInC have been envisioning the future of Personalised Lifelong Learning.

It is 2033, and an ageing population has resulted in a tight labour market in which older people want to and are able to remain actively employed. To avoid economic stagnation and recession, there is a growing recognition of the value of older workers. Companies are striving to retain their workforce as long as possible but this requires adjustments to the traditional work structure such as shorter workdays and flexible learning offerings. In response, a movement has emerged over the past decade that promotes Lifelong Learning as a crucial solution. A dynamic labour market is supported by personalised learning programs that not only address economic needs but also promote the health of older people by encouraging cognitive development.  

This Lifelong Learning program is essential for increasing older workers’ resilience and adaptability to technological change. Government agencies are partnering with higher education teachers to offer free classes that will allow both older and younger generations to continue to learn and adapt to an ever-changing job market. The goal is not only economic growth, but also the promotion of the populations health and well-being, creating a resilient society capable of meeting the challenges of the future.

Future 3: Green University  

Sustainability, the circular economy, and climate change are all intertwining topics. If we want to make the world a liveable place for future generations, we need to start thinking now about what this world has the potential to look like. What impact might considerable development in these three areas have upon universities in the coming years? 

The following scenario demonstrates one conceptualisation we have concerning the future of a Green University.

In the year 2033, you find yourself working at a university that has fully embraced sustainability as a way of life. The campus stands as a testament to environmental responsibility, boasting net-zero emissions and thriving biodiversity. As part of this transformative vision, every student receives comprehensive education on responsible and sustainable citizenship, shaping a generation of scientists and scholars who not only excel in their fields but are also deeply committed to addressing pressing global issues. The educational approach transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, offering transdisciplinary programs that centre around real-world problems, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and focusing on tackling global challenges such as climate change.

“At this forward-thinking institution, emphasis lies on producing practical problem-solvers. Interdisciplinary internships bridge the gap between theory and real-world application, ensuring that graduates leave not only academically proficient but also armed with the practical skills needed to confront complex issues. This impact extends far beyond the campus. Universities worldwide follow suit, collectively committing to transdisciplinary education. A global shift occurs with academic institutions aligning their missions to address social realities and contribute to the greater good. In this scenario, the year 2033 marks a transformative era where you, as part of this visionary university, play a crucial role in shaping a sustainable, interconnected, and solution-oriented future. At this forward-thinking institution, emphasis lies on producing practical problem-solvers”.

Have these scenarios peaked your curiosity? Do you have insights you would like to share, or would you like to know how you can implementFuture Foresight as a methodology at your organisation? Contact Yentl Croese at y.croese@llinc.leidenuniv.nl. 

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