REASON I: Comfort
The mind of a seventeen-year-old is extremely different from a forty-year-olds. Not saying that all who work in the Higher Ed industry are that age, but you get the point.
Although the world around us is advancing, people are still comfortable with what they grew up with. I hear my parents talk about their ‘good old days’ with paper maps, VCR’s, cars without seatbelts, rotary phones, and pagers. Might I add that I do not know how to use those, nor do I know what some of those actually are.
My lifestyle, along with many of my peers, includes a digital GPS, wireless calling, self-driving cars, high quality pictures in seconds, and social media. We carry a handheld device as our main necessity throughout the day. Our comforts are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. Simply because that is what we each grew up with.
Same goes for what a prospective college student is looking for. Input from that actual age group will help schools figure out what they need to adjust.
Their necessities are usually very different from what a 1970s baby thinks they are. In my college checklist, I have added a well implemented hybrid campus. Although that will be rare to find at this stage, hopefully that is in the near future.
Not only do I want safety from the pandemic, I want the flexibility and independence of a hybrid campus. It uses easily navigable technologies and apps that us students are familiar with. We are attracted to campuses that are digitizing with the rest of the world because they are able to provide the most efficient, interesting classes and lifestyle for us. Students are able to relate more to what is occurring on a technological campus compared to a traditional one.
With all of this in mind, here are some suggestions that colleges should consider adding and focusing on when changing up their courses and institutions:
- Giving students the option to either attend or simply tune into lectures.
- Add the course schedule / plan to an online learning platform, in order to allow students the freedom to complete the assignments whenever it works best for them (as completed by the due date).
- If your course or lecture is online, consider a smaller meeting time that students can attend to extend their understanding on a specific topic (online or in person, depending on the circumstance). It gives them the personal, social aspect of education.
- Figure out ways to incorporate more small groups or spread out activities on campus for students to participate in, most will want something to do outside of their dorm rooms and apartments.
REASON II: Independence
A hybrid learning experience opens the door up for students to choose how they want to manage their schedules. It is up to them to learn the responsibilities of completing their work on time, attending the mandatory lectures, and functioning through digital learning platforms. We are adults, and we want to be treated with the same respect and responsibility as the other adults.
It also gives us a mix of the digital and social side of learning. Hybrid helps the students that want to work simultaneously, struggle with sitting in lecture halls for hours, and are more organized with technological integration. It expands to a more personalized education as students can pick what method works best for them.
REASON III: Preparation
The next step after college, for most, is a career or internship. That world is shifting towards digitizing a lot of their functions. Going to a traditional, brick and mortar school does not prepare us for the career world that we are going to step into post-college.
Different careers have quickly adjusted to becoming digital since the pandemic affected them, such as online food ordering, meetings, and shopping. The sad truth is that those who did not shift did not survive. Adding technology to a curriculum and lifestyle is setting your students up for success as each career is now incorporating online options.
Open your ears and eyes to the voices of students that walk onto your campus. Take a look at what they grew up and are most comfortable with. Doing this will also set you up to attract the future generations, as they will come in with similar mentalities on advanced technology’s integration to your campus. They all will provide you with more insight than any other staff or administration can.