Alternate Worlds: Imagining the Future of Education is an interdisciplinary honors seminar for students of Macaulay Honors College. The course uses the lenses of online instruction and science fiction to examine literary and other ideas about the future of education. The course is structured to achieve the following learning objectives:

  1. Students will be able to give examples of current trends in teaching and learning and speculate about how they may play out in the future
  2. Students will be able to give examples of how science fiction, as literature, reflects the contemporary attitudes and concerns of its age and addresses universal human questions.
  3. Students will be able to describe the history of their own education, and propose ways that they can alter and control their learning in other courses

Etc., etc, and so forth.

Stop Sign

But stop. Wait a minute.  Is that really what this course is about? Is any course really like this? Would you take a course based only on those dry and jargon-y statements? Would I?

Let’s start again and make this really an “About” page.

Ever since schooling began, students have been thinking about ways to make it better.  Teachers, too, if they’re good and committed (and many of us are), are always thinking about what could work better, what they could do differently.  And writers, in science fiction, in other kinds of literature, in political advocacy, and in popular culture, have also had ideas about what the future of education would be, could be, like.  Every student in this class (and just about everyone who will see this page) has been a student for a very long time, and has imagined her ideal school, even if it’s just been in a daydream.

So that’s what this course is really about.  Where have teaching and learning come from? Where are they going?  What have people been thinking and imagining (and saying and writing) about the future of education, and what are they thinking and imagining and saying and writing now, today?  We’re going to look at all of that and think about it and write about it–joining the conversation ourselves.

And more than that, because we’re taking this course in new ways, using new tools, we’ve got the opportunity to experiment with what’s new (or not-so-new) in education ourselves, and reflect on our own teaching and learning with these new tools, right here, while we’re doing it. (While we’re at it, we might even start to question our own definitions of what “course” even is).

And that’s what this is about–until we decide differently!