Businesses and private corporations suggest Autonomous Systems for a future that is safer, more reliable, and more convenient. Decision-makers, engineers, and planners are expected to design and enable these technologies in our communities and cities. The question of adaptability and transitions, thus, is crucial to understand the extent to which these technologies fill a need and how they impact future living.
Students entering the workforce will be expected to skillfully implement, knowledgably use, and ethically assess next generation technologies. Whilst we must equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills on emerging technologies, few programs offer consistent pathways to learn both and rarely do so through an experiential or as we call it the hands-on-learning approach that comprehensively engages with visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners. Drawing on theories of constructivism (Weegar and Pacis, 2012) and information transfer (Eraut, 2004), we built a technology-enhanced course for students to learn with next generation technology, the hands on experience, and to assess differences in students’ learning outcomes while doing so.
This course takes a critical look at current and next-generation technologies: their perceptions, promises, and potential pitfalls. Experiencing Autonomous Futures on campus and MSU’s neighborhoods while critically comparing the plans and implementations strategies for autonomous systems in MI, the USA, and across the world, we evaluate Autonomous Futures in Transition, consider ethical challenges in utopian and dystopian futures, and deduct implications for engineering, decision-makers, private corporations, and planners if autonomous systems are to be implemented.
I aspired to integrate the best and latest practices of collaborative, experiential, and applied learning. In-class time was used primarily for explorations and discussion while fundamental knowledge was taught through flipped lectures. During class-time, the first sections of the classes are taught outside & experiential (hands-on) using the concept of the “flipping, moving and tweeting classroom” (Kassens-Noor, 2016) to efficiently apply knowledge, skills, and values in real-world settings. By exploring MSU neighborhoods and experiencing Autonomous Futures, students explored the concepts and premises of self-driving vehicles, domotics, and artificial Intelligence. As a multi-disciplinary course in which regular citizens, planners, faculty and practitioners from across the disciplines collaborated, the course introduced next-generation technology, challenging perceptions, and imploring cutting edge research aimed at achieving sustainable built and social environments when planning Autonomous Futures.