Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

#FOEcast – The Values Behind Our Forecasts

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

So this week Bryan Alexander is leading ideation on what people think #FOEcast should be like (start here) … I don’t have a lot of time to blog, so I’m copying some text I had written in the Slack team (for background, the Slack team was created right after NMC went dark, and includes people who were part of that community/network in some way or another).

So I was writing on Slack that I felt we should take a critical look at the values behind what we do when we forecast edtech trends.

So apologies for keeping the text really informal as in Slack, but time is tight. I Was asked if I had specific critiques:

I do. I think definitely transparency over process (which is partially there) but also things like checking each year against prev year forecasts… And values behind choices. How do such reports influence choices in edu, and is this what we mean to do?

[Bryan confirmed what I had assumed – higher ed IT folks were influenced by NMC Horizon reports. A lot of what I say next has most probably been said in some form or another by Audrey Watters, probably more critically]

Which bothers me. Because I had no opportunity to really clarify [when voting for NMC] that even though I see something looming on the horizon, I want to share cautions and objections. I mean, they would be in the discussion forum and perhaps in articles i link and in a section i was gonna write.. But when someone sees a summary and see trend X, does it make IT Higher ed folks decide to invest in it? The thing is, is foecast about what we think is going to happen or what we think *should* happen, and in what ways does the reporting itself influence decision-making to fulfill our prophecies.. And so how should *that* influence how we do it? (sorry, no time to blog)

And finally, a response from Taylor Kendall, with this video

4 Comments

  1. Hmm…so if the scientific *is* in future forecasting leads inevitably to the political *ought* then perhaps we approach FOECast with the intention of contradiction. Try to provide the *is* and simultaneously be critical of it.
    🤔🤔🤔

  2. Adjunct activists I’ve worked with/for have expressed similar concerns even more strongly. They ask cui bono? Literally, who benefits? More crassly put ,”Who is selling what and to whom?” Follow the money.

  3. Maha, thank you for blogging about FOECast!

    Good question: “is foecast about what we think is going to happen or what we think *should* happen…?” We’ve been talking about that in videos and the Google Doc. Some people want the latter. Others would like to see a broader project that allows many reports/accounts/stories created with it, which would therefore support multiple perspectives, including both what some “think is going to happen” and what others “think *should* happen”.

    What would you like to see?

    • Hey Bryan – sorry I’m not able to engage in the videos – I know you’re doing several times. Glad to hear you’re discussing it in the gdoc too

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