It’s now been eight months since the publication of my book, Digital Futures for Learning (Routledge, 2023), and I’m using this post to gather up a summary of what’s been happening, as well as a few resources and interesting discussions that have emerged.
I’ve had the chance to talk about the book and about speculative approaches to researching and teaching education futures with people in a number of settings, including:
- a workshop in Jönköping, Sweden on the topic of Storytelling as a method and approach to exploring future(s) of education in Nordic countries
- the Computers and Learning Research Group seminar series at the Open University
- the Conversations in Education series at the University of Bristol
- a workshop at Unidistance in Switzerland on using speculative approaches to design online assessment
- my book launch event, hosted by the Centre for Research in Digital Education – this was recorded and can be viewed here: Exploring speculative approaches to digital education futures – book launch event.
- the New Books in Critical Theory, in the New Books Network podcast (interviewed by Professor Dave O’Brien)
- the Digital Public Interest (DPI) Collective podcast (interviewed by Professor George Veletsianos and Dr Shandell Houlden).
- the Media & Learning Newsletter, part of the Media & Learning Association in Belgium.
- the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland’s Futures Forum future of AI event at the Scottish Parliament (report here).
- with my colleagues Sian Bayne and Michael Gallagher, at a number of workshops working with our Higher Education Futures speculative scenarios.
I’ve been involved in writing projects that have drawn from the book, including work on data cultures, postdigital speculation, postdigital research and surveillance futures, and I’m co-editing a special issue of the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, on the theme of “Higher Education Futures at the intersection of justice, hope, and educational technology”, with George Veletsianos, Shandell Houlden, Sakinah Alhadad and Camille Dickson-Deane (the call is still open, until the end of October).
In the coming months I’ll be returning to Sweden to give a keynote at a follow-up workshop in Stockholm, attending the Irish Learnovation summit as a featured speaker, taking part in an ‘in conversation’ event with Professor Mike Michael during the National Centre for Research Methods e-festival, and in May 2024 I will have the honour of being a keynote speaker at the Networked Learning conference.
I have learned so much from the conversations, questions and ideas that have been shared with me since the book launched, and from the ways that people continue to take up, use and develop the speculative approaches I discuss (both in the book and earlier work). Some of the work that is currently influencing my thinking about where to go next includes:
- Ceratto-Pargman, Lindberg and Buch’s (2022) paper on futures-oriented methods in education. This is a really important piece of work that attempts to map the landscape of methods currently in use for education futures work. Ylva Lindberg makes connections to this paper in her review of my book in Postdigital Science in Education.
- Hrastinski’s paper on characteristics of education fiction; and Hrastinski and Jandric’s article about researchers as fiction writers.
- Henrietta Carbonel and her colleagues’ work at Unidistance in Switzerland, on using speculative approaches to support the redesign of teaching and learning – see for example this report on designing online assessment.
- Olofsdotter Bergström and Restrepo-Giraldo’s fascinating workshop paper on walking backwards as a way of speculatively engaging with complexity.
- Carey Jewitt and colleagues’ work on using speculative methods to explore sensory possibilities for interactive skin technologies.
- Robinson’s exploration of assistive writing technology, using speculative critique to examine the resurgence of an “autonomous” model of literacy that was critiqued by New Literacy Studies but is now re-emerging in new forms.
Also, I have been greatly inspired by the speculative work of doctoral researchers I’m co-supervising, including Sharon Boyd, Joe Noteboom, John Morrison and Nicolás Ruiz. Students on my Culture, Heritage and Learning Futures course at the Edinburgh Futures Institute also use speculative methods to develop their “Stories from the Future”, and you can read some of the stories from 2022 here.
Altogether, I’ve been really appreciative of the opportunities for discussion, debate and imagination the past eight months have brought, and I’m looking forward to the months ahead.
 Knox, J. and Ross, J (2023). Afterword. In Data Cultures in Higher Education: Emergent Practices and the Challenge Ahead. Eds: J. Raffaghelli & A. Sangrà. Springer.
Ross, J. (in press). Postdigital Speculation. Encyclopedia of Postdigital Science and Education.
Fawns, T., Ross, J., Carbonel, H., Noteboom, J., Finnegan-Dehn, S. & Raver, M. (2023). Mapping and Tracing the Postdigital: Approaches and Parameters of Postdigital Research. Postdigital Science and Education.
Ross, J. and Wilson, A. (in press). Reconfiguring surveillance futures for higher education using speculative data stories In Bonderup Dohn, N., Jaldemark, J., Öberg, L-M., Mozelius, P., Håkonsson Lindqvist, M., Ryberg, T. & de Laat, M. (eds.). Sustainable Networked Learning: Individual, Sociological and Design Perspectives. Springer.
Wilson, A. and Ross, J. (in press). Surveillance imaginaries: learning from participatory speculative fiction. Surveillance and Society.
Cerratto Pargman, T., Lindberg, Y., & Buch, A. (2022). Automation Is Coming! Exploring Future(s)-Oriented Methods in Education. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-022-00349-6
Hrastinski, S. (2023). Characteristics of Education Fiction. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-023-00400-0
Hrastinski, S., & Jandrić, P. (2023). Imagining Education Futures: Researchers as Fiction Authors. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-023-00403-x
Jewitt, C., Barker, N., & Golmohammadi, L. (2022). Creative Probes, Proxy Feelers, and Speculations on Interactive Skin. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction, 6(4), Article 4. https://doi.org/10.3390/mti6040022
Jewitt, C., Barker, N., & Golmohammadi, L. (2023). Feeling our way: Methodological explorations on researching touch through uncertainty. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 0(0), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2023.2173423
Lindberg, Y. (2023). Review of Jen Ross (2023). Digital Futures for Learning: Speculative Methods and Pedagogies. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-023-00396-7
Olofsdotter Bergström, A., & Restrepo-Giraldo, J. (2023, June 12). Walking backwards as a radical practice for design. Nordes Conference Series. Nordes 2023: This Space Left Intentionally Blank. https://dl.designresearchsociety.org/nordes/nordes2023/researchpapers/32
Robinson, B. (2023). Speculative Propositions for Digital Writing Under the New Autonomous Model of Literacy. Postdigital Science and Education, 5(1), 117–135. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-022-00358-5