ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

The future of learning at the university

Posted on: July 7, 2017

As university teacher and head of an e-learning center I’m wondering how my job will change during the next years. Already now students are different, many of them know less maths and spelling rules and speak English fluently. In courses of university teaching colleagues complain that students are not engaged anymore. Instead of immersing themselves in university topics many of them aim at finishing their degree as quickly and easily as possible.

Many of my students are working beside university and I observe that they struggle to combine job, study and family life. Of course these students cannot focus only on learning. But also students who are not working have a lot of distractions.

Furthermore I’m not sure that all the stuff we’re teaching them will be useful for them in their future life. And I’m convinced that our teaching style often doesn’t match how they want to learn and their learning competences.

So what are we teachers going to do? In my teaching I see that open tasks which support emergent learning processes give students the freedom to choose aspects they want to learn. Reflecting and documenting their learning processes strengthen their competences for lifelong learning. As facilitator I’m monitoring their development and I try to give them feedback as often as possible. And I try to use pictures and visualization in class (comics, footprints of emergence, social network analysis). But what else?

At the moment I’m reading a lot about trends, technology-enhanced learning, about the generations Y and Z, deep learning, chatbots, … In my comics workshop yesterday I tried to visualize my thoughts about the future of learning at universities.

I’m not sure about how our job will change. My picture finishes with a large question mark. Ayad Al-Ani does research about the future. He will be our keynote speaker at the 16. E-Learning Day of FH JOANNEUM (the conference is in German) and I get the impression that he doesn’t see a bright future for universities.

I’m discussing the future of learning, the future of books and universities, MOOCs and handwriting, the role of chatbots, the importance or insignificance of knowledge about facts with students and teachers. And I’m curios of your thoughts about the future. I’m looking forward to comments, comics (?) and reactions.


3 Responses to "The future of learning at the university"

Emergent learning and focussing on topics one is truly interested in sounds great. It contrasts finishing a degree as fast and painless as possible. The number of people with uni degrees is growing rapidly year by year. Therefore the competition for those kind of jobs is becoming tougher. I believe you are going to be best at things you enjoy doing. Enjoying to learn will make for a better learning experience. Also you will want to continue learning, to improve, and complement those skills. I would like the future of learning to consist of high quality materials and platforms that are freely available for all. These should be publicly financed and maintained.

Hi tryptofame, interesting statement.
You want to be able to learn what you like to learn using high quality materials and platforms (for communication?). This learning environment should be a public service, not a service offered by Microsoft or Google. Who would decide about content and who would provide it? Universities? Companies? Which public service would provide the learning environment (probably you are writing about online environments)?
Imagining your ideas I don’t see learning paths, syllabi or curricula. So I’m wondering if learning will transform to an individual task.
Great food for thoughts, thanx, jupidu

I find it very interesting when you write: “Furthermore I’m not sure that all the stuff we’re teaching them will be useful for them in their future life”.
We will never be sure, how the future turns out to be and in which situations students are going to apply their knowledge and skills in the future. What is most important is to let students experience the process of selfdirected and creative process of applying their skills in work related situations, and as you say to support learning through relflexion of own actions and through planing of their future development.

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