Future health: Oslo and the ‘a-ha’ moment

Our University of Oslo scenarios for the future of schools, out this week, surfaced health, and perceptions of health, as a battleground between parents and institutions in the education sector of 2050.

This was an “a-ha” moment for university researchers seeking new issues to explore around the digitalisation of education.

In scenario planning, we don’t aim to predict the future, but rather to generate plausible visions which can usefully inform present-day decision-making.

The future stories we create together are intended to highlight issues and drivers which exist in the present; the future scenario can then be set aside in order to focus on the issue at hand.

For the Oslo education researchers, a world in which parents and institutions warred over children’s health in a heavily-surveilled society – bickering with ‘the algorithm’ even over when to wipe your child’s nose – highlighted the extent to which their research should explore questions of health and wellbeing.

Today, in the Norwegian news, we see a parent-led Facebook group urging the city to close schools while the municipal authorities maintain that there is no reason yet to do so.

The campaigners argue that if businesses are sending staff home, then young children – who are less able to follow guidelines on infection control, like coughing into your elbow – should certainly go back to their families too.

Questions of distance learning, and education via screens and digital devices, may be sharpened by the current pandemic – even for the youngest children.

How will coronavirus affect the way we teach and learn, in the short and long term? Could it impact even the youngest children, irrespective of whether they contract the disease?

Good foresight work can help communities, institutions, and individuals navigate such turbulent and uncertain situations. You can read more about the Oslo education scenarios project here.

The Digitalisation of Education: Foresight Work at the University of Oslo

On 28 October, the University of Oslo Media & Communications Department brought together researchers, educators, publishers, and representatives of the tech sector & not-for-profits to begin the work of building scenarios that test assumptions about the future of education in Norway.

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I facilitated an iterative process generating three visions of Norwegian society in years to come, exploring social, technological, cultural and economic change – always seeking to capture factors and possibilities which lay beyond the current framing of Norway’s educational future.

This workshop was only the beginning of an ambitious future-facing research programme at the Media & Communications Department, but I hope to be able to share materials with you in due course.

The Future Sound of Libraries, Revisited: Interview with Martin Kristoffer Bråthen

martinkbrathenToday I’m joined by Norway’s Martin Kristoffer Bråthen. Martin is head of innovation and product development at Biblioteksentralen, the cooperative business which supplies libraries across Norway with collection materials, equipment and services.


Prior to that, Martin worked at Deichman Bibliotek, the Oslo Public Library, in a range of project roles. During that time, he wrote a robust defence of public libraries in the age of the e-book in response to a comment by a senior Norwegian arts editor that “digitisation leaves public libraries on the scrapheap of history.”

Read more

The Norwegian Library Innovation Exchange @innovasjonnorge

How do you get a whole nation thinking about the challenges which lie ahead of it?

How can you help a community to solve seemingly intractable problems?

Which institutions need to be part of the discussion about society’s future directions?

I visited Norway this week to speak and run a workshop at the national library conference, #biblkonf2018. I asked these questions, and more, with a focus on how libraries might serve the innovation agenda articulated by Norway’s innovation agency, Innovasjon Norge. (You can see slides from the keynote here).

Today I want to focus on one idea, which comes from the work of the British innovation agency Innovate UK. Read more

>Everything I know about skiing I learned from James Bond

>I’ve just got back from Norway after a week working on a project about Edvard Munch, the guy who painted The Scream.

I’ve been working with Dr. Steffen Krüger on an article which brings together Munch, cartoons and modern architecture. When I wasn’t wandering around museums or trying to find the right words at Steffen’s desk, I had a bit of free time and decided to try cross-country skiing.

Now, I used to be a mountain-boarder and I’ve tried snowboarding and sandboarding too. (Sandboarding down giant dunes might be the best thing ever). But I’ve never, ever, in my life, been on skis before.

Everything I ever learned about skiing came from the James Bond films – especially the one where he skis off the edge of a cliff.

I didn’t quite make it into James Bond’s league. I think I fell over eight hundred times in eight kilometres. (He only fell once, plus it was deliberate and he had a parachute).

(This was a particularly good fall).

 The whole thing was great fun, but seriously embarrassing.

I was being taught to ski by a woman who once got told that she skied like a penguin.
She was cool, though, and penguins are too, so really it’s all my fault. Also, she’s an illustrator who I’m planning a new children’s book with, so I’m not about to complain about her ski teaching!

When I wasn’t falling on my face or writing about art at midnight, I also put in a short entry for Hilobrow’s ‘Golden Age Superhumans’ micro-fiction competition. It’s about 200 words, and probably only funny for grown-ups old enough to remember Simon and Garfunkel…You can find it here.

There are photos of my ski shame – they will be on this site soon.
The sad truth is I can’t wait to get back on the skis when I get the chance.
Perhaps this will result in a comedy video. I will share it if it happens.
Until then, keep reading!

With love from Norway’s fourth most popular comedy skier,