Introducing AI SCENARIO PLAYQUESTS: AN ACTIVITY TO THINK LIKE A FUTURIST IN EDUCATION
Why AI Scenario Playquests
An AI Scenario Playquest is part of my effort to promote some of the behaviors of a futurist with teachers and education administrators. It is a response to the emergence of generative AI tools, which is already having a significant impact on the school experience.
I say significant because what I’ve experienced with undergraduate writing submissions over the past 12 months of teaching the same course has felt significant compared to my experience with past technology disruptors in my 15-20 years in education.
The idea of playing futurists in education is not a new concept; Hencley and Yates (1974) published a book with a framework to guide this effort because they felt it essential that the education community engage in forecasting techniques similar to those used in science and industry.
Torrance and Safter (1999) included “get glimpses of the future” as one of their creative thinking skills because they felt it crucial for any creative individual to consider future problems they can solve.
Thinking Like a Futurist
I see AI Scenario PlayQuests as not only fun divergent thinking activities but opportunities to help teachers think critically about their future classroom environment, how AI tools might change that experience, and perhaps more importantly, what problems we might need to address.
There are many techniques to consider when “playing futurist” in education, and we produced a great episode on this topic with education futurist Bryan Alexandar, but for the most part the concept of AI Scenrio Playquests is an open-minded scenario-based activity that utilizes existing knowledge of the classroom, a little understanding of existing generative AI tools, and leads to some image building about a specific learning event in the future.
Although divergent thinking activities encourage wild and whacky ideas, I advocate for a structured approach that starts with a specific learning activity, pairs an existing or anticipated generative AI tool with that activity, and envisions a future 1-3 years in advance, 3-5 years in advance, or 9-10 years in advance. However, the latter becomes incredibly speculative and more closely aligned with one of my previous projects, Class of 2032: Envisioning the Future of Learning.
See also: Think Like a Futurist
How to Start
AI Scenario Playquests can be facilitated as part of a professional development workshop that focuses on a pre-determined theme or technology such as AI and Assessment or Co-Creativity* and Creative Writing.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed participating in this activity as part of a regular blogging series on this website. I identify a technology or activity and then write about the ways it may change and the problems we may have to address along the way.
So to conclude; choose a specific learning event such as a small group of students discussing their ideas in response to a question prompt and imagine how an existing or anticipated generative AI tool will enhance that experience; however, don’t forget to remain open to the challenges that may emerge and consider how you (or we) might have to address those challenges.
*Co-Creativity is an emerging concept that speaks to individuals and groups collaborating with AI tools during the process of creating and making something new.
Why it might be time to re-evaluate our approach to teaching Divergent Thinking in
AI Literacy can help students know when they are most likely to experience errors, bias, and the potential for misinformation, which might help emphasize the value of human judgment. And understanding how generative AI uses prompts to make predictions can assist future creatives in ideation.