Scenario matrix

Scenario matrix

Indeterminate Factors

This post addresses Lesson 4, Scenario Matrix in the OERu #SP4Ed MOOC.

Factor 1: Educational Practices: Proprietary <—> Open

  • Proprietary: Through vertical integration, textbook publishers, content providers and learning management system vendors provide instructors with turnkey courses: proprietary curriculum and other learning resources, complete with instructional design, learner support, delivery support, assessments, invigilation, analytics and other services
  • Open: Educational systems and governments support, incentivize and/or legislate the use of OER and wider open educational practices in higher education. Instructional support and IT departments use cloud-based social networking tools and provide faculty and student support. There is a massive shift from locked-in content, proprietary textbooks and learning management systems to open content development and delivery tools, open textbooks and lifelong personal learning environments.

This factor is important because it determines the extent to which higher education surrenders its own discipline and teaching content and experience to private sector owners, or maintains and promotes these as a public good paid for by tax dollars and meant to be openly shared for all to use. It is uncertain at this point as there are no clear policies nor in-service professional development opportunities addressing these issues, and faculty are left largely to their own devices to determine what publisher tools and content they use.

Factor 2: Disaggregation/Specialization: Managed <—> Free-for-all

  • Managed: proactive governments and institutions take the lead in identifying and coordinating centres of specialization within educational jurisdictions (provinces, districts, states, countries, etc.). Certain institutions are mandated and funded for providing or leading collaboration for system wide credentialing, tutoring services, online learning, OERs,  other learner support for non-traditional learning over and above the specific mandates of individual institutions while all are encouraged to participate.
  • Free-for-all: Institutions fend for themselves and increasingly compete within and outside their jurisdictions for students and provision of related services. Students drop away in preference for content, support and credentials offered by a variety of highly credible institutions worldwide.

This factor is critical in determining whether higher education institutions experience increasing decline as students find convenient, high-quality and low cost education and credentials that meets their needs elsewhere, or strengthen their roles as providers of education and credentials by cooperating among themselves and staying abreast or even ahead of the changes occurring in higher education worldwide. Our jurisdiction is seeing a move toward a managed approach, in that a government-funded open textbook initiative is under way, and our open learning institution is specifically mandated to provide prior learning assessments and open access. However, these concepts have not yet been addressed system-wide in light xMOOCs, badges and other such developments.


Sussing out trends

For Lesson 4 Activity in OERu SR4Ed Mooc


Trends for inputs to activity

  • More demand for alternative credentialing
  • Growth in social networking
  • MOOCs and their evolutionary derivatives
  • Disaggregation of university functions
  • Decline of PC
  • Use of analytics
  • Changing educational paradigms (flipped classroom, blended, distance) in traditional settings
  • Wearable technologies
  • Internet of things
  • Ubiquitous displays
  • Game-simulation based learning
  • Augmented reality
  • Mobile apps
  • Decline of siloed academic disciplines
  • Professions and industry will increasingly set standards for academia
  • Wearable computers

I would combine several of these trends into a picture of how they may combine in providing new forms of learning opportunities. These trends are:

  • Wearable technologies
  • Use of analytics
  • Game-based simulation learning
  • Mobile apps

I believe all these developments and more will create new opportunities for “learning by doing” or immersive experiential learning using digital technologies. Some early examples may be found here:
–    Stanford – Centre for immersive and simulation based learning
–    Clinical research
–    Business

With the growth in wearable computers, internet of objects, 3-d printing and augmented reality, we’ll see a move away from PCs toward more real-world engagements with learning simulations, possibly in almost any discipline. With a more outward focus of forward-thinking universities toward the real needs of the world around them, along with declining focus on disciplines themselves (which can still be pursued by specialized universities and research centres),  theory and practical skills will be combined with reflective learning to create problem-based immersive learning simulations that can take place anywhere, anytime, worldwide for rapid learning, scenario testing and feedback via analytics. Wearable computers, augmented reality and flipped classroom models can increasingly involve students in learning by doing, in increasingly realistic or even blended simulation/real learning environments. I believe this is particularly important for the higher education environment as increasing expectations of accountability by governments and taxpayers will demand increased relevance of learning to real-world problems.

The supermarket model

Lesson 3 Learning Outcome Actions

In this assignment in the OERu SP4ed MOOC, I’ve selected the “Supermarket” storyline, which is built on the outward-facing, standardized poles of the two axes underlying this and three alternative scenarios. The outward-facing pole directs attention to the needs of external bodies such as industry and communities, as opposed to the “inward” pole that focuses on academia and its disciplinary interests. Standardization focuses on maintaining high standards of quality and curriculum production, in contrast to the opposing need to remain flexible. In the “Supermarket” scenario consortia of polytechnics work with industry panels to create high quality diploma programs using OER-based digital technologies.

Question brainstorm

  • Will this model require a greater degree of centralization of curriculum development and production (intra and inter intitutionally)?
  • Who will coordinate this model?
  • How will support be available to enable students, faculty and other infrastructure to adapt to this model?
  • How will priorities be established among competing needs/demands from industry stakeholders?
  • How will funding be generated and allocated among partners?
  • How will the currency of faculty be maintained in relation to ongoing changes in industry, technology and business practices?
  • How is the balance of technical and academic skills determined in the curriculum?
  • Will OER be found specific to specialized industry needs or will they need to be created?
  • Will the credentials transfer or ladder into undergraduate and graduate degrees for mid or later career students?

Top 2 questions

  • Will this model require a greater degree of centralization of curriculum development and production (intra and inter intitutionally)?
  • Who will coordinate this model?

How these questions interact the three alternative scenarios?

Question 1

Will this model require a greater degree of centralization of curriculum development and production (intra and inter intitutionally)?


  • Centralization (intra institutionally) can support delivery of quality e-learning approaches

Quality branded consortia

  • Centralization can increasingly build critical mass of expertise to support consortia operations

Self determination

  • Can provide focused support to individual learners, faculty and others in this challenging model

Question 2

Who will coordinate this model?


  • Question of coordination can still support increased rationalization and coordination of institutional program offerings internally and externally

Quality branded consortia

  • Question assists in identifying entities that coordinate efforts toward effective consortia participation and engagement across the institution


  • Coordination a key element in providing consistent level of learner experience across institution

Assignment: Question to answer: How do managers perceive and implement scenario planning?

The question I wish to pose and answer involves implementation of scenario planning in an organizational context where managers are committed to traditional processes.

Wilson (1) notes some of the cultural challenges that may be encountered in the appearance of skepticism on the part of managers in the implementation of scenario planning. Managers traditionally pride themselves on their ability to develop a set of facts and analytically-based projections in which they and their superiors can place confidence. In fact, such processes are largely in keeping with typical teaching in business schools, focusing on rational and quantitative approaches toward creating a confident, single-point picture of the future:

So their initial reaction, when confronted with the apparent emphasis in scenarios on “multipoint forecasting,” may be one of confusion and disbelief, cwith the complaint that three (or four)  forecasts” are more confusing, and less helpful, than one. The fact that this is a misperception of the nature and role of scenarios does not in any way lessen the implementation problem (p. 24).

Making it clear from the outset that the purpose of the scenarios is to focus on concrete strategic planning elements is an important first step; strategic decisions can then be tested in relation to the various scenarios to determine their resilience in light of these potential vulnerabilities. This type of planning focus can help to bridge the culture gap between traditional linear, rational, single-point strategic planning and scenario planning. In this approach, each scenario is examined for opportunities and threats  individually and then in comparison to the others.  This process leads to determining what the company should and should not do in preparing for each of these scenarios. Contgrary to purer forms of scenario planning, one scenario is chosen as most plausible, and tested against the others . Vulnerabilities are identified and addressed, and strategic decisions are then made. In terms of change management in the face of skeptical managers,

…the approach can be justified as a useful intermediate step (between traditional and scenario planning) in weaning executives away from their reliance on single-point forecasting. It does not commit the ultimate sin of disregarding the other scenarios entirely; and, in its step-by-step process, it does address many of the key questions that scenario-based strategy should ask (p. 28).

Thus there may be variations in how scenario planning is conducted based on the management culture within the organization.

(1) Ian Wilson, From Scenario Thinking to Strategic Action, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 65, Issue 1, September 2000, Pages 23-29, ISSN 0040-1625, 10.1016/S0040-1625(99)00122-5.

Assignment: Scenarios can’t predict the future, so what’s the point?

As noted in several of the references given in the OERu SPRed MOOC, for reading and viewing, traditional strategic planning is a linear and rational process, driven mainly by analysis of current, and short term historical, trends, projected mainly quantitatively into the future (Introduction to Scenario Planning VideoYoutube, 2011; JISC, 2013). A single-option strategic plan is then developed. To put it simply, the present is projected into the future, which usually is reasonably accurate in the short term of a year or two, but longer term does not hold up as there are too many complex interactions among variables that can obtain in the longer term future. Thus an alternative approach is needed to provide insight as to what types of actions need to be taken in the present to reduce the risk of failure in the future in the event of multiple plausible futures (Scenario Planning Strategy Tube, 2009). By analyzing these scenarios and determining which strategy best mobilizes the enterprise for most or all of them, a broader and more flexible base is built to address in advance potential effects of future contingencies.

To answer the question then, it can be argued that the purpose of scenarios is not to predict the future, but rather to develop and discuss a variety of plausible alternative futures, such that the enterprise can be better prepared to deal with them if and when even part of these scenarios takes place.

Twitter use

Twitter as a discussion tool lacks the benefits of threaded discussions – topic headings, reply-to’s, etc. If you come in from no-where it’s hard to get oriented and link the tweets back to the topic under discussion.

Starting out with SP4Ed

I started this new blog as part of my participation in the SP4Ed mini MOOC offered through the OERu’s WikiEducator. I’m starting out with a few preliminary tests to ensure that things are working properly. As this is a pilot course, the main idea is to work out the bugs.That’s why I’ll be “thinking aloud” as I work through the pilot and, of course, comments are intended to support, not criticize, the pilot. One point to check first is whether the SP4Ed tag gets picked up. So here we go…save and check…