The Student at the Center: Transforming Learning for the Future
Photo of Wilson College's Complex for Science, Mathematics, and Technology. Architecture & renovation designs by Credo Design Architects. Full project details here.
Think of family members, friends, and coworkers who have demonstrated that they could attain amazing heights and unlock enormous talent but struggled to do so within the constructs of a formal education. Some of the most transformational, innovative minds of our era—Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, to name but three—dropped out of college and built new worlds in their garages and living rooms that have created, in large part, the world of technology in which we now live, and to which we as educators must now respond. The irony is not lost on us. These individuals, like so many of our students, have innate potential that often cannot be unleashed in a traditional classroom setting.
The hundreds or thousands of students we welcome to our campuses each year are each unique, with different ways of interacting, communicating, and thinking. Through exhaustive ongoing research into human genetics and brain development, we know that they, like all people, process information, absorb concepts, and commit knowledge to memory differently. Despite all their rich and valuable differences, we bring these students together into classes most often oriented around one way of digesting information, with a professor in front of the classroom imparting his or her knowledge. We then measure the students’ success based largely on whether they can adapt to that singular mode of learning.
The challenge before us as educators committed to the success of our students is to rebuild our instructional models and learning spaces around the learner’s vantage point rather than our own. To do this, we must draw on what we can explore about the way different individuals approach learning, utilizing a foundation of integrated, accessible data that allows for rich and timely student support. The information and tools to undertake this rebuilding are readily available. While the work is complex and requires culture change, this transformation is urgently needed: the students of the future will rely on us to meet them as they are, not as we are.
The new university’s responsibility is twofold: first, it must adapt the role of faculty and the learning spaces in which they teach to a new reality of how information and knowledge flow through the world; and second, it must include the student as not only an active participant, but also a co-creator of their own learning experience.
The Student at the Center: Transforming Learning for the Future Challenge Questions
- Does your institution have a student success center?
- Are there learning designers employed at your institution?
- Have you started a digital initiative at your institution?
- Do more than 50 percent of your professors teach in lecture format?
- Have you refreshed and revitalized your core curriculum in the last five years?
Moving the Needle is how Credo approaches integrated, holistic student success and retention work. This two-year partnership engages the full campus community in developing,
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