EC&I 832

Choose Your Own Adventure: The Future of Education

In a world where change is the only constant, educators have started to ponder and share their perspectives on what education might look like in the not-so-distant future. This week, I read Laura McClure’s Ted-Ed blog about the future of education. McClure imagines a place where the traditional classroom structure, with its rows of desks and educator-led lectures, becomes an ancient practice. Instead, she states that education will become a choose-your-own-adventure, where innovation, creativity, and technology intersect and redefine how students gain knowledge and skills. So, what does this look like, and are academic institutions ready for this change?

Well, I am happy to tell you that I have already started to see the journey begin in some post-secondary programs. In a collaborative effort between several departments, program curricula are being rewritten to acknowledge the transformation education is currently undergoing. In McClure’s blog, she states that education will become a makerspace, where students learn through creative projects instead of test-based assessments. This transformation has started, and what used to be multiple-choice, true and false, and matching-based assessment questions have turned into case study, inquiry, and capstone-based projects. In addition, to reaffirm this transition, the older styles of assessing students now hinder articulation agreements and the brokering of programs with other post-secondary institutions. However, I acknowledge that this experience is not universal. As with everything in education, the process is slow, and the responsibility to make change looks different depending on your educational context. To bring some lightheartedness to this conversation, I asked ChatGPT to create an educational joke based on a popular meme.

Why did the education system start using the Spider-Man pointing meme? Because when it comes to taking responsibility for change, they would rather point to someone else and say, “You do it”!

Spiderman pointing at Spiderman pointing at Spiderman Blank Template - Imgflip

So, how do we navigate an ever-changing educational landscape where suggesting change often means taking on the role of a leader and ambassador for that change? Maintaining personal well-being and work-life boundaries are crucial in a profession already plagued with high levels of burnout. However, simultaneously, educators are told to modernize curricula, incorporate technology, and enhance creativity opportunities to meet the evolving needs of students in a rapidly changing world. How do we then strike a balance between driving innovation and preserving our sanity? From personal experience, collaboration with colleagues, leveraging available resources and support systems, and recognizing that change can be a collective effort is crucial. Educators can collectively champion new ideas and curricular enhancements, which distributes the workload and fosters a sense of shared responsibility and accountability. This can look like sharing resources through online collaborative platforms, like SharePoint, engaging in professional development workshops and networks, or creating professional learning communities, curricula committees, or cross-disciplinary teams. Together, educators can navigate the ever-changing educational landscape, driving innovation while safeguarding their well-being and that of our students. 

I encourage you to consider the same questions that I have pondered while writing this blog, discuss how the choose-your-own-adventure in education theory impacts your practice, and generate your own educational jokes through ChatGPT.


  • Echo

    Hi Chantal,

    Great post. I can imagine how stressful as an educator to be expected to change curricula that have been used for decades of decades. The world today is undergoing changes in the world, the times and history. With the development of the times, countries around the world are actively taking digital education as an important way and measure to cope with crisis challenges and open a bright future. It is found that some traditional student assignments can be completed by ChatGPT, which will have an impact on traditional teaching. Everyone is concerned and discussing what the purpose of our education is and how we should deal with such challenges. It’s a question for us to actively explore. I agree with you that when it comes to taking responsibility for change, people would rather point to someone else and say, “You do it”! Change is difficult but inevitable. It needs collaboration from the global. Developing digital education and promoting the digital transformation of education is the trend of the times, the need for development and the direction of reform.


    • Chantal Stenger

      Hi Echo, those are great points. I remember my grade five math teacher saying, “You have to do this math in your head because you won’t always be carrying around a calculator”. Years later, calculators became integrated into cell phones and daily life. This forced math curricula to change and adapt, so I imagine the education system will have to undergo the same shift because of AI.

  • Jordan Halkyard

    I have to agree with you that change is slow, but it is beginning to happen in many of our schools, especially when it comes to assessment. I have seen many of the teachers I work with begin to focus less and less on things such as rigorous exams and replace them with more student led projects that give them more time to dig deeper into subjects they care about.
    You have made many good points when it comes to how this change can happen through things such as collaboration with colleagues. I also think that in this new world we are entering, communication with the other stake holders becomes key. I have noticed that even though teachers may want to start taking this new route, parents can still want school to reflect what they went through and find it confusing when their kids are experiencing something new. As we begin to take on these new forms of education it will be a long process to get parents and government fully on board to so they can understand what learning can look like in the new world.

    • Chantal Stenger

      Hi Jordan, you are right. Sometimes, as educators, we focus on the internal stakeholders (students) we are currently working with and forget the external stakeholders (parents). We often implement new technology and train the students, but we forget that the parents need to know how to utilize it when students work or learn from home. I had a colleague tell me once that schools are always approximately five years behind. This makes sense to me because when something new comes out, it takes internal stakeholders a minimum of one year to research and develop policies around it, another year to communicate it with staff and begin implementation, another year for full implementation and training, another year to dissect the analytics and make changes, and finally, by the last year, a new piece of technology will come out that will replace it, and the cycle begins again.

  • Matthew

    While I am optimistic that education will finally break out of the rut it has been in since the factory school model came about, I am a bit more pessimistic than you are. I think the first major challenge we will face on this journey is infrastructure. Our buildings are designed with old thinking in mind, and as you pointed out the push to modernization and innovation involves a whole lot of finger pointing (who will pick up the tab for redesigning our spaces?). Until education becomes a national level priority I doubt the money will flow. Secondly, we are now married to a system where children travel to buildings for 6 hours a day, which coincidentally (not really) mirrors the modern work day. I think the advantage that post-secondary has in innovating is that they are not responsible for keeping students all day long. If we are going to seriously re-think education we will have to also re-think the world of work as well.

    • Chantal Stenger

      Hi Matthew, thank you for highlighting the problems with infrastructure that also impact the educational system. Coming from a post-secondary lens, I see some shifts in the traditional model already occurring. For example, my institution has a decentralized model, which allows us to work with First Nations and remote communities, provide them with the opportunity to tell us what they need in regard to education and deliver programs within their community, instead of community members travelling to urban centers. This model has allowed us to reach and educate more people without the borders of districts or infrastructure. However, this model is not as easily applied outside of post-secondary.

  • Curtis Norman

    Great post Chantal! I laughed as I read your blog because I too asked chatGPT to come up with alternate titles for my blog compared to the one I created. I personally liked mine better than chatGPT’s options. My response to the Spider-Man meme would be everyone trying to figure out who was going to teach the kids to become responsible digital citizens 🙂

    • Chantal Stenger

      Hi Curtis, I am glad that you enjoyed my post! As I tell my colleagues, ChatGPT is a thought partner, not a replacement. I also prefer your blog post title, so Curtis: 1 ChatGPT: 0.

  • RoxAnne Jordan

    Hi Chantal,
    I feel our posts are on similar paths this week. I too see the world of education shifting and changing (if slowly) and am excited about it. I also feel that though a balance is needed we all need to do our part to create new norms to reinforce change and overall acceptance. I concur with a few points that Matthew brings about being married to a structure but I hope that these will continue to shift with the ongoing online and outdoor education programs currently being piloted.
    I feel that the choose-your-own-adventure options should happen, could happen, and for someone, will happen. I believe that there will be more realization and acceptance that having the same targets for everyone to graduate is absurd because we’re not all aiming for the same life goals. Slowly, we can begin to modify our educational paths to best fit and prepare our students for their individual futures. I also believe that this will allow educators to follow their passions and find positions that are authentic to them. Do I see this happening soon? Nope, but it makes me hopeful that there will be room for s to have more diversification freedom in the near future.

  • Jennifer Owens

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. I agree that education needs to be somewhat of a choose-your-own-adventure model. But you’re right, this can seem like a daunting task for so many teachers. The more I see this model and the more I’ve applied it to my own practice, the more I see that it isn’t ask stressful or as overwhelming as it seems like it will be. But the hard part is helping teachers get there. What I’ve noticed about all of my grad classes so far is that all of my profs do try to build in choices and somewhat of a choose-you-own-adventure. Yes, we have parameters, but we also have plenty of choices in how we share our learning. I think if teachers learn to trust their students (the way we are trusted as adult students) to express themselves and learn in unique ways, they will find it is possible…and in many cases, the students will do more than is expected, because they are given voice and choice.

    • Chantal Stenger

      Hi Jennifer, I agree about the flexibility and creativity within graduate courses. Similar to you, I found that undergrad was all about regurgitation, while grad has been about personal experiences intersecting with curricula. I once had a professor who decided to take a risk regarding how students were assessed in the course. The professor informed us that she would not give anyone a grade on any assignment, just feedback. At the end of the semester, each of us had to bring our assessment portfolios to her and provide her with a grade range of 5% (ex: 80-85%) that we believed that we fell in. Although I did not love this assessment style, I understood it and found that I received the same mark that I thought I would at the beginning, so maybe she was onto something.

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