Welcome to higher education circa 2012, where on many campuses, the stale, passive lecture model is being replaced by a more dynamic way of teaching and learning—one in which students and instructors collaborate in a give-and-take fashion to “make meaning together,” says Tony O’Driscoll, a professor of business administration at Duke.
Today’s students have come of age in a world where they are constantly connected with friends on Facebook, and they use this and other social media tools to make sense of their shared experience together. Now, colleges are using similar technologies to engage students in course content in ways that resonate with a generation accustomed to a new way of learning.
All this comes at a time when employers have higher expectations for recent college graduates, and colleges must make sure they’re giving their students the right skills to excel in a faster-paced world.
“Technology is enabling and also forcing students, in some ways, to become self-learners,” says Catheryn Cheal, vice president and senior officer of academic technology at San Jose State University. “They’re going to be expected to have a certain amount of learning initiative throughout their career, and that’s different than how it used to be.”
Students might enter college knowing how to seek out information, Cheal notes—“but we need to teach them to take it deeper … than just Googling.”
She adds: “Our job is to keep up with that, and to help students with that change. It used to be that you’d go to school, and all the information would be poured into you. Now, you get a job, but the software is changing every few years—and you better know how to keep up to date.”
As students come to expect more interactive forms of instruction, colleges are stepping up to meet this need.
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