I just read The Future Belongs to Those Who...which has as its subtitle "a guide for thinking about the future." This is the first suggested reading for the Open Course in Education Futures run by George Siemens and Dave Cormier. Amazingly this course has over 500 participants who are all concerned about and involved in the future of education.
I found The Future Belongs to Those Who...quite enlightening. It clarified for me why forward-looking researchers call their endeavors "futures studies". The plural is used because "there is no one preordained future that is fated to occur. Rather there are many different possible alternative futures." In order to explore these various possibilities, futurists use various methods including trend monitoring and scenarios. One of the trend monitoring techniques, scanning, for example, involves "searching through a variety of information sources to identify trends and emerging developments." This reminds me of what many of us do through daily scanning of rss feeds from edubloggers and by checking tweets from other educators.
From the data that is gathered, futurists develop sets of various possible scenarios which could occur. The purpose of these scenarios is "to encourage people to think about how to navigate successfully across the different circumstances that might be encountered."
Having just read The World is Open by Curtis J. Bonk, which is about all the changes that are occurring right now in the field of education, I am eager to hear what scenarios the participants in this course come up with.