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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Educating for a Challenging Future (fusion on-site) (EFIE11056)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis is one of two core courses for the Education Futures pathway. It will get you thinking about the role of education in addressing society's most complex, wicked problems. We know there is a great deal of uncertainty and volatility facing us: is the answer to our complex problems more and better education? This course will help us explore this question in a critical, engaging and collaborative way.
Course description The prescription to remedy many of society's most pressing problems usually includes more or better education - for example the lack of action to address the climate emergency produces calls for more scientific literacy, the spread of disinformation online creates demand for more digital literacy, and toxic nationalism, we are told, is solved by better history education. But, within existing educational paradigms, are such calls realistic? This course posits that educating for the future requires the rethinking of education as a silver bullet solution. There are many systemic features of education that limit its potential to deliver answers. For example, the most complex or 'wicked' problems now facing humanity defy existing disciplinary boundaries. Yet, young scholars, from secondary school onwards, are obliged to specialise more at every stage of their education. To such specialists, especially within STEM subjects, social problems can look like engineering or technical problems that can be understood through data science and designed away with behaviour-change technology. Yet we need specialisation before it becomes expertise. How can such tensions be addressed?

Drawing on the facet methodology developed at the National Centre for Research Methods, this course is a practical intervention, involving engaging lectures and seminars, intensive group discussion, and collaborative development of educational responses and critical approaches to futures work. The facet methodology is a metaphor for addressing problems from different perspectives to muster as many insights as possible. It will synthesize educational and social theory, the latest research and pedagogy, digital methods and sources of data to facilitate a structured, collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative educational approach to rethinking education in light of society's wicked problems. To activate the facet methodology during this course, we offer problems that challenge disciplinary boundaries and require critical and creative interdisciplinary thinking to a) scope the problem and b) provide possible educational responses. Using facilities, concepts, methods and techniques, the course will scaffold students' response to these questions and allow them to produce some radical educational thinking.

For example, the problem of disinformation on the internet is different in different in cultures; it is a technical problem for computer scientists, a problem for psychologists and sociologists but also requires an understanding of national cultures, international relations and the political economy of capitalism. For example, the UK government can do little to regulate companies that are based in the USA. The facet method requires contributions for all these various ways of understanding the world to get the complete picture.

The course will be structured as follows:

(1) Pre-Intensive Work

Preparation for the intensive. Including accessible readings to establish the context for the teaching days so that the students arrive informed about the educational challenges that they will be asked to address. Online forum available to help any students who need support or guidance with the readings including a live, synchronous meet-and-greet to break down barriers to engagement and understanding.

(2) 2-day Intensive

Workshops and seminars that will operationalise four different themes:

Theme 1 - Scoping the problem:
Teachers present the problems and then in facilitated groups students deconstruct each challenge's interdisciplinary elements, articulate their scale and complexity.

Theme 2 - Education, Education, Education:
With input from educational experts, in groups we discuss the history of education - its purposes and the normative aspirations assigned to it. For example, moral improvement, supply labour to the economy, and civic engagement. Then we discuss the limits and affordances of education, its various delivery systems, and its remit across our lifecourse from childhood to late adulthood.

Theme 3 - Critical Skills:
Finding and evaluating evidence, close critical reading, putting together an argument, academic writing.

Theme 4 - Designing for Education:
- Where do you begin designing educational responses to these wicked problems?
- Who's your target audience and why are you targeting them?
- How do we structure learning?
- Why does assessment matter?
- How are we guided by evidence?
- What are our sociological considerations?

(3) Post-Intensive

In groups, students design an educational response to one of our wicked problems and present this in a digital form. Feedback from a panel of expert tutors, peers and the wider EFI community.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - On-Site Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities.

Students should be aware that:
- Classrooms used in this course will have additional technology in place: students might not be able to sit in areas away from microphones or outside the field of view of all cameras.
- Unless the lecturer or tutor indicates otherwise you should assume the session is being recorded.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 4, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 2, Online Activities 4, Formative Assessment Hours 4, Other Study Hours 14, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 66 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 14
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

The course will be assessed by means of the following assessment components:

1) Group Presentation (50%)

10-minute recorded presentations. Students will be assessed on their ability to critically reflect on their topic, their methods and their solution. Their group solution will be assessed on its sophistication, its understanding of the challenge and its potential to be operationalised. Preferably students and panellists will attend a synchronous event to give and receive feedback. However, to offer flexibility, we will also enable online asynchronous feedback, i.e. panellists wil be about to watch and review presentations within a given timeframe.

2) 1500 Word Individual Evaluation (50)

Individual critical and reflexive evaluation of their group's presentation including its development process and feedback from panellists. 1500 words.
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Teachers will offer formative feedback during 2-week development phase.

Formative feedback on the student group assessment will be the expert panel plus peers and the wider EFI community.

Summative feedback on group presentation & final individual assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Determine and critically evaluate the different, often competing, pressures on education systems to solve many problems that are currently destabilising our future.
  2. Interrogate and critically analyse education's purpose as a vehicle for policy solutions to wicked problems.
  3. Critically reflect on what education can and cannot achieve in isolation in response to wicked problems.
  4. Work creatively and collaboratively to assess evidence, synthesise different epistemologies, and design a prototype educational response to a wicked problem.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

Engeström, Y. and A. Sannino. 2010. 'Studies of Expansive Learning: Foundations, Findings and Future Challenges.' Educational Research Review 5: 1-24.

Head, B. 2019. 'Forty Years of Wicked Problems Literature: Forging Closer Links to Policy Studies', Policy and Society,38(2): 180-197. doi: 10.1080/14494035.2018.1488797

Lotz-Sisitka, H., A. Wals, D. Kronlid and D. McGarry. 2015. 'Transformative, Transgressive Social Learning: Rethinking Higher Education Pedagogy in Times of Systemic Global Dysfunction'. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 16: 73-80.

Mason, J. (2011) 'Facet Methodology: The Case for an Inventive Research Orientation', Methodological Innovations Online, 6(3), pp. 75-92. doi: 10.4256/mio.2011.008.

Schulman, L. 2005b. 'Pedagogies of Uncertainty.' Liberal Education 91(2): 18-25.

Tassone, V. C. O'Mahony, E. McKenna, H. Eppink and A. Wals. 2018. '(Re-)designing Higher Education Curricula in Times of Systemic Dysfunction: A Responsible Research and Innovation Perspective.' Higher Education 76: 337-352. doi: 10.1007/s10734-017-0211-4

Veltman, M., J. Van Keulen and J. Voogt. 2019. 'Design Principles for Addressing Wicked Problems Through Boundary Crossing in Higher Professional Education', Journal of Education and Work 32(2): 135-155. doi: 10.1080/13639080.2019.1610165
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students on this course will draw on the quality, depth and breadth of their experiences to engage with the communities and world around them. Inspired by their exposure to world-leading research, they will demonstrate their capacities as innovative learners. To address the course's wicked problems by participating in the facet methodology the students will need openness and empathy to understanding diverse perspectives and alternative ways of thinking, the courage and confidence to cross boundaries, and the communication and facilitation skills necessary for collaborative responses.
KeywordsEducation Policy,Wicked Problems,Curriculum Development,Interdisciplinarity
Course organiserDr Huw Davies
Course secretaryMiss Abby Gleave
Tel: (0131 6)51 1337
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