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New ACE Presidential Innovation Lab Paper Explores Students of the Future

August 06, 2014

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American higher education institutions should develop strategies now to meet the changing needs of college students, which will shift over the next decade due to major changes in demographics, technology and learning styles.​

That is the conclusion of the latest report inspired by the work of the Presidential Innovation Lab, an effort to explore the potential of educational innovations to boost the number of Americans able to earn a college degree.

The report, The Students of the Future​, is the third installment in a series of four papers stemming from the Presidential Innovation Lab, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The paper notes that “experts in digital learning see a disconnect between today’s young people and how colleges and universities currently organize and teach. A disconnect also exists between the needs of the next generation of students—many of whom will be used to learning in hybrid, online formats and in informal ways—and the traditional ways that institutions teach, assess students’ learning, and award credentials.”

In addition, students of the future will have a wider range of backgrounds, skills and needs, which in turn will impact virtually every aspect of how colleges and universities operate, from student recruitment to academic programs to facilities, the paper notes.

The first two Presidential Innovation Lab papers examined challenges to the traditional higher education business model that are driven largely by financial concerns and the potential need to redesign faculty roles. To read those papers, click here.

The fourth paper, on major drivers and signals of change in higher education, will be released soon.

Fourteen chief executive officers from a diverse group of colleges and universities participated in the lab, which was launched last year with the goal of engaging in a robust and wide-ranging conversation about the various drivers of higher education change and potential reactions to those drivers. The specific charge of the lab was to examine how technological, pedagogical, organizational and structural innovations can close persistent higher education attainment gaps.​

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