The Centre for Learning & Teaching recently welcomed Rachel Hall, Editor of the Guardian's HE Network to the University. Andy Pitchford, Head of Learning and Teaching, was fortunate to find a few moments to chat with her about the students of the future - Generation Alpha - and what universities may need to do to meet future challenges.
Rachel's interest in future generations of students and how they may view our universities came, she said, from an interview with Karen Goss, a former policy advisor to Barack Obama. Goss wrote about 'breakaway learners' and suggested that all children from all socio-economic backgrounds would have access to technology at school and in the home in the future. Learners would also be more diverse, including students from family backgrounds that had no prior experience of higher education.
Rachel spoke of the need for universities to address these issues, by developing closer links with schools to find out how children are learning to inform their own university curricula and by offering greater pastoral support for students.
Generation Alpha will hit the university streets in 2028. That may be a long time ahead, but Rachel thought that it was still worth planning for their arrival. Any benefits in terms of innovative curriculum delivery and technology would still serve to benefit current students.
And who exactly are Generation Alpha? Rachel thought that these were not concepts set in stone. That said, Generation Alpha would be typically children of older parents and would have some experience of learning code at school.
"Things like knowing they'll be more diverse and that they'll have had more exposure to technology are definitely things that universities can start gearing up to prepare themselves for,' she stated.