You know the long-running public service ad for the UNCF. A mind is, indeed, a terrible thing to waste. To make sure that doesn’t happen, colleges and universities are trying to figure out just what’s going on in those young minds. The survival of higher ed, or at least its future health, depends on it.
The group known as Millennials is already having an impact on where and how learning happens on campus. That, in turn, is causing schools to reexamine the ways physical space can foster this trend toward learning anytime and anywhere. The key is to use space to engage this population, with amenities to enhance learning and classroom and lab designs that are as adaptable and flexible as the students are.
But what of the next group that follows the Millennials? They’ll likely direct their own learning. The trend toward eschewing traditional careers will only accelerate. More of future students will turn their passion into a profession. The Internet will continue to affect learning as ways of imparting knowledge become increasingly free, global, individual, and socially organized.
Even as learning gets more virtual, however, there will still be the need for physical places where people get together to learn. Chances are these spaces will need to be social and collaborative settings that assume the movement of people and furniture to allow for variety. They’ll need to include changing focal points, typically enabled by technology on demand. And visual stimulation, such as color, texture, and reference to nature, will be required to enhance cognitive skills.
The good thing about the changes coming to a campus near your child is that schools have new incentive to evolve the educational experience. Everyone will benefit from that, and certainly all those young minds ready to change their world.