Designing the Future

EduTech Asia 2017

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way

Mark Twain

…alI  studies grow out of relations in the one great common world. When the  child lives in varied but concrete and active relationship to this  common world, [their] studies are naturally unified.

John Dewey

Imagining how events could be otherwise than they are is a hallmark freedom and power of human beings.- in Boulding (1990)

D. Bob Gowin

….Embrace the “unbound” information and learning that comes with the networked world ….while providing a “bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within the boundaries”

John Seeley Brown

Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.


Workshop Overview


In this session we will critique, vision, experiment and create pathways for interdisciplinary innovation and technology at Nations Academy.


Using a modified future workshops approach faculty will:

  1. discuss your worst and most successful attempts at integrating technology in your classroom or school (or that you have experienced-Co-Teachers);
  2. critique a range of critical issues and barriers to implementing technology and innovative pedagogy, vision the most ideal learning environments and technologies for your ideal school and start to discuss how we might implement the tools, structures and responsibilities needed to bridge the gap between vision and reality;
  3. Create an artifact (presentation, drawing….) to be exhibited to colleagues at the end of the workshop.


  1. Participants will be able to better articulate past learning, critique, futures thinking and current hopes for activities salient to interdisciplinary innovation and technology.
  2. Create an ongoing learning environment amongst faculty where co-learning, creativity and imagination are valued and acted upon.

1. Story Telling

45 minutes

Step 1

5 minutes

Brainstorm two short stories about your  worst and most successful attempts at integrating technology in your classroom or school (or that you have experienced-Co-Teachers). Distill your stories (or words that describe your stories) on the storytelling Padlet here.

Step 2

2 minutes per person

Share your stories with the group you are sitting with.


Essential questions that will guide innovation and technology practices at Nations Academy. 1

  • Learner Perspective: Which elements seem of vital importance for learning from the personal and educational needs and interests of the learners themselves?
  • Societal Perspective: Which problems and issues seem relevant for inclusion from the perspective of societal trends and needs?
  • Knowledge Perspective: What academic [intellectual social and physical] and cultural heritage seems essential for learning and future development?

1 McKenny, Niveen and van den Akker (2006). In van den Akker, Gravemeijer, McKenney & Nieveen (Eds.) Educational Design Research (p.68) Abbingdon, Oxen: Routledge.

2. Futures

Follow up on the storytelling workshop and create a project with your group. Your presentation to faculty and SLT should show creative and visual thinking. 

45 minutes

Step 1

  • critique a range of critical issues and barriers to implementing technology and innovative pedagogy. .

Step 2

  • vision the most ideal learning environments and technologies for your classrooms and Nations Academy.


3. Reporting

The part where you exhibit and pitch your vision to the school community.

Presentations may be digital or physical (drawings….) and should contribute to the development of innovation and technology at nations academy. Ideally these could be showcased at the school.



What is interdisciplinary Innovation?

We choose to use the term interdisciplinary innovation to describe a wide range of work in the education space:

  • multidisciplinarity, involves drawing appropriately from multiple disciplines to redefine problems outside of normal boundaries and reach solutions based on a new understanding of complex situations.
  • interdisciplinarity, involves the combining of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g. a research project). It is about creating something new by crossing boundaries, and thinking across them.
  • transdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary learning moves across institutional boundaries into non-institutional spaces (partnerships with organization, citizen science, service work, entrepreneurship)
  • and perhaps even post-disciplinary, re-imagining the institution and all forms of learning.

“Interdisciplinary innovation arises from the positive effects that result when stepping across the social boundaries that we structure knowledge by. Those boundaries include technology, academic disciplines, internal school functions and the boundaries between these domains. In the knowledge economy, it is often the case that the right knowledge to solve a problem is in a different place to the problem itself, so interdisciplinary innovation is an essential tool for the future. There are also many problems today that need more than one kind of knowledge to solve them, so interdisciplinary innovation is also an essential tool for the challenging problems of today.”1

What is Curriculum Integration?

How do we get our learning communities to a point of interdiciplinary innovation? In his book Curriculum Integration: Designing the Core of Democratic LearningBeane (1997) writes that, “….in  curriculum integration, knowledge from the disciplines is repositioned into the context of [a] theme, questions, and activities at hand. Even when teaching and learning move into what looks like discipline-based  instruction, they are always done explicitly in the context of the theme and for a reason driven by it. It is here that knowledge comes to life, here where it has meaning, and here where it is more likely to be “learned.” Students are involved and engaged in an enormous range of knowledge, from information to values clarification, and including content and skills from several disciplines of knowledge (math, experimental sciences, social sciences, academic reading and writing, the arts, engineering and technology). This knowledge is integrated in student projects (with the context of themes and activities within them).2

What is Project Based Learning

Yong Zhao (2012) curates research modalitys on PBL in his book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and  Entrepreneurial Students. He narrows the research into three general  descriptions of PBL as a starting points:

  • academic PBL that is primarily classroom based, content driven, single subject and teacher led
  • mixed  models where teacher and student collaboration through groups is key  and a product is sought within the constraint of academic disciplines  inside and outside of a school
  • entrepreneurship  models that are completely student led, focused on a product with the  teacher serving as venture capitalist, consultant, and motivator and  focus group. Academic disciplines emerge out of need and feedback.

1For an erudite discussion on interdisciplinary innovation see: Blackwell, A. F., Wilson, L., Street, A., Boulton, C., & Knell, J. (2009). Radical innovation: Crossing knowledge boundaries with interdisciplinary teams. University of Cambridge/NESTA Report. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. See Retrieved from Google Scholar.

2 ie.
  1. Personal Knowledge (PK) addresses self-concerns and ways of knowing about self
  2. Social Knowledge (SK) addresses social and world issues, from peer to global relationships, and ways of critically examining these.
  3. Explanatory Knowledge (EK) includes content that names, describes, explains, and interprets, including that involved in the systems of knowledge (Life Systems – Biology, Ecology, Anatomy, Physiology, Health; Physical Systems – Geological, Chemical, Physical; Numerical Systems – Statistical, Relational (Algebraic), Spacial (Geometric); Social Systems – Cultural, Political, Organizational, Historical, Economic; Thought Systems – Spirituality, Philosophy, Psychology) Visual and Performing Systems — arts, design, media; as well as commonsense or popular knowledge.
  4. Technical/Twenty First Century (TK) Knowledge incorporates ways of investigating, communicating, analyzing, and expressing in a technologically rich global environment— Research, critical reading and writing, finding, validating, leveraging, and synthesizing Information, mapping, modeling and representing data, communication, collaboration and problem solving, service and leadership. These core strands of knowledge inform an educational experience providing students with a bridge between the personal and social, intellect and experience, wilderness and culture