Analysing data from across the sector, the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has produced a report looking at how universities need to develop to meet the needs of Generation Z.
The report, titled ‘Jellybean Learning, The Future of The University Campus’, created by AUDE and UnWork, challenges the historic higher education learning process in a world that has drastically changed from when it began. To remain successful, universities must understand how to teach the next generation of students. The report aims to understand what today’s ten year olds will want from university and how the sector caters for this.
The digital imbalance
Today’s ten year olds are ‘digitally dependent’, meaning they were born into a world surrounded by advanced technology, their entire childhood will have been shaped by technology and the internet. Yet, most of today’s lecturers are ‘digitally migrant’, unequipped to utilise the revolutionary technology available. Generation Z will have higher expectations for their university experience and this imbalance between generations will place a greater demand on the sector.
Over 77% of students rate their learning experience as better in innovative, new spaces. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), internet connectivity and augmented reality are due to transform estates into immersive learning spaces. Universities will need to upgrade their digital infrastructure to cater for this.
The report has identified eight key themes estate professionals should consider to effectively address the challenges of educating today’s ten year olds.
- Prepare for the changing demographic of students
- Ensure that technology and technology-based learning approaches are suitable for future students
- Adapt the physical space
- Explore innovative partnerships with organisations
- Utilise the vast potential to gather and analyse data
- Co-locate with corporations, markets and new clusters of business
- Start investigating models of smart buildings
- Blur boundaries between campus and non-campus
Bringing the world into the classroom
The sector can learn from best practice across the world. For example, the Harvard Business School wanted to connect digitally with students outside of the classroom but found traditional video capture (one camera filming one lecturer) made teachers less engaging. To overcome this, they have pioneered a new technology, an immersive and interactive virtual space that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. A roaming camera operator, five stationary cameras and the laptop cameras of up to 60 students work together to create a collaborative teaching environment. The classroom can connect to an entire world of students to deliver content in a manner that addresses some of the ways in which education is changing and will continue to change for future learners.
Sue Holmes, AUDE Executive and Director of Estates and Facilities at Oxford Brookes University, said: “Society and technology are drastically changing, and while there has been some improvement, the higher education sector needs to keep up. This report clearly highlights the needs of Generation Z and the challenges this brings to the sector.
“We aim to give estates professionals the best advice we can to help them build outstanding facilities for their students. We have outlined the key areas to consider in order to face the challenge head on and create immersive and innovative learning spaces for the next generation.”
Philip Ross, Founder and CEO of UnWork, added: “Universities are experiencing monumental changes due to a range of influences. New generations of learners with their own unique attributes, new technologies and increasing pressures on real estate are all changing the way that universities teach, research and engage with their students. The Jellybean Learning Report examines eight key forces shaping the future of the university campus, as well as how universities have responded to these forces and what universities should do to best prepare themselves for the future.”