What Does a Future Ready University Look Like?
Increasing digital learning opportunities for all students is the focus of the future ready movement. While the movement itself focuses on the K-12 environment, there is a lot that a university can do to build on their momentum. So what does a future-ready university look like?
First, it has leaders and stakeholders who are committed to creating future ready students. Tools, such as this interactive planning tool, can help a university community become future ready.
Second, the future ready university is absolutely committed to digital equity for all of its students. While popular perception features college students as perpetually connected to their devices, the reality is somewhat different, especially when economic factors come into play. Recent research has revealed that, disturbingly, a large percentage of college students are food insecure. This suggests that they may be “device insecure” as well and face serious problems if, for example, they need a new laptop in the middle of a semester. So a future ready university is prepared to ensure that all students have adequate access to digital learning opportunities.
Third, a future ready university emphasizes important lessons in digital citizenship for its students. While a few students may have completed a rigorous digital citizenship curriculum as a K-12 student, the majority will not have. This suggests that there will be gaps in crucial skills, such as understanding how copyright law applies to digital media. A future ready university will help students prepare to legally use digital media. Plus, future ready students need to understand how to maintain appropriate relationships online.
Universities need the resources to coach students as they respond to cyberbullying, inappropriate items on social media, and other uncomfortable situations in the digital age. Helping students to think about their digital footprint and online reputation is also crucial, especially since university students will be entering the job market within just a few short years. Further, students will need help in learning how to keep their private data secure—not an easy task in an environment where major multinational corporations struggle to avoid data breaches.
Finally, universities have an enormous and tricky responsibility in helping students learn how to evaluate information that they find online—the plague of “fake news” is all too real, and recent research shows that most adults do not possess adequate skills to appropriately vet information for bias and relevance.
These digital citizenship skills are a challenge—especially in an age of reduced resources and tightening budgets. But these skills and attributes are necessary for future ready universities. Stakeholders can become better prepared to transit these skills by engaging with the future ready movement, perhaps by following the official future ready account on Twitter.