As we speak, the leaders of tomorrow’s corporate world are malnourished and living in cramped conditions. They see too little light during the day and stay awake too long at night.
No, our young leaders aren’t all locked up abroad. They’re in college. And it is there that they’re forming the habits that will come to define corporate culture decades from now. For those of us interested in ushering organizational training into the digital age, the transformations taking place in the way college students learn are fascinating predictors of what’s to come in the world of business training.
A new report from New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report 2015 highlights some of those new trends. Here are a few ways that digital learning on college campuses today will impact the way business people learn tomorrow:
- Formal and informal learning will coexist. Formal learning once constituted the entire educational experience. These days, technology enables even informal learning moments to be captured, decontextualized, and stored for later. Some of an individual’s most impactful learning comes from self-directed exploration. Experts believe that combining these “serendipitous” moments of learning with formal learning “can create an environment that fosters experimentation, curiosity, and above all, creativity.” Students will expect this empowerment when they’re employees, too.
- Redesigned learning spaces. In a microlearning universe, the whole world becomes a classroom. On-demand learning content means that education can take place anywhere, and college and university leaders are rethinking their learning spaces to accommodate. Campuses are equipping pedestrian thoroughfares with large displays, redesigning educational settings with an eye toward mobility and collaboration, and upgrading wireless bandwidth to accommodate a wider variety of devices. When these college students enter the working world, they’ll likely want their active learning to take place in similarly appointed environments.
- Flipped classrooms. The tradition of instructor-led classroom teaching is being flipped on its head. In the flipped classroom model, students watch video lessons at home and have that learning reinforced the next day during classroom time with a professor. Research shows that flipped classrooms can provide more student engagement and better learning outcomes than traditional instruction. The flipped approach will merge with the always-connected environment of workers today and drive non-traditional, continuous learning in the workplace.
- Data-driven learning. Educators are taking advantage of the “increasingly clear trail of analytics data” that online learners leave behind, both to assess learner performance and to modify didactic strategies. This higher-ed trend could actually be considered an import from the corporate world, but the more students are used to it, the more they’ll understand how to excel within it. Organizational training relies more heavily on data analytics than do traditional university courses, so for higher ed to pivot to a rigorously data-based approach might be a positive alignment.
- Competing models of education. Today’s young learners are more comfortable with a wide array of educational models than their predecessors. In fact, they demand it. As personalized data and microlearning makes it ever easier to tailor learning interventions to individuals, the one-size-fits-all model of training is outdated. “Across the board, institutions are looking for ways to provide a high quality of service and more learning opportunities,” says the report. Students will expect no less variety from the continuing education they’ll encounter in the real world.
College students understand education not as a classroom exercise, but a continuous habit. They want learning to take place on different types of devices—including their own—at convenient times and for convenient durations of time. Forward thinking colleges recognize that this flexible approach to learning is the only type of effective learning in a quickly-changing digital environment. Students coming from these institutions can’t be put through the long, boring onboarding training and rote professional development seminars that organizations have long settled for. Businesses and universities have to plunge together into the future to meet the needs of their young employees.
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