Future Forward College


Within higher education, there exists a tendency to rely on the past for answers to current and future problems.  While this may have been a workable solution for the 20th century, the  rapid change of the 21st Century requires students and citizens with both capacities for foresight and the ability to think systemically.  It is our thesis that existing educational approaches require systemic transformation to develop learners with new knowledge and skills required for a society and economy that are just beginning to be identified, and that will be increasingly fast-paced, interconnected and complex.

The premise of a Future Forward College is:

  • Rapid technological change, real time response, and human interconnections are driving innovation leading to new processes and interconnected webs and changing the role postsecondary education plays in the development of learners and learning in the 21st This will be done through the incorporation of the use of webs and networks, multiple choices, and a comfort with uncertainly and ambiguity.
  • The community college’s role in higher education as an open door of access is well understood. However a movement toward a completion, success, and performance agenda able to adapt to constantly changing conditions requires radical and transformative change.
  • Lifelong learning is essential, not optional. It is also our opinion that community colleges should rethink their roles, structure, teaching methodologies and curricula to be in alignment with emerging ideas and concepts within a “futures context.”
  • Rising educational costs, the demand for lifelong training and retraining, and the proximity of community colleges within the community will insure that a major number of citizens are given the capacities to adapt to the transformed ideas and approaches of a society and economy in complete transformation.

Engaging students in Future Forward Thinking

The following represent examples of key changes in the development of learners able to navigate an adaptive societal and economic environment require:

  • A shift from teaching singular, standard answers to teaching emerging connections as the norm.
  • A shift from standardized curricula to individualized curricula that connects diverse students and learning guides in teams and networks as the norm shifting linear thinking to non-linear systems thinking as the norm.
  • A shift from organization by hierarchies and command and control to organization by interlocking networks and self-organizing as the norm breaking down silos and operational overlap within the college.
  • A shift from one-way content delivery from the “sage on the stage” to real-time interactive learning through personalized curricula and communications using social networking as the norm.
  • A shift from knowledge based on traditional truths to emerging knowledge connecting disparate “idea spaces” in continuous learning innovation as the norm.
  • A shift to mobile technologies that will create distributive knowledge, learning and economic development as the norm.

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