Life is (a) moving, breathing thing. We have to be willing to constantly evolve. Perfection is constant transformation. – Nia Peeples.
I love campuses! I love the ambience and the energy radiating off students, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. I am most at home on a campus setting anywhere in the world. I was born in a campus hospital, and grew up on a campus. I wouldn’t attempt to change the experience of growing up in one for anything else. Till this day, I am happiest when on campus and many days I find an excuse to go to the University of Lagos campus, which is within my vicinity.
On any given day, I watch students interact and wonder about the kind of world that they are going to inherit. Their expectations are unlike those of my generation; these students are technologically savvy, socially engaged and forward-thinking individuals who continuously seek new and innovative opportunities to grow and be challenged. My question is whether those of us responsible for their learning are ready to face the challenge of creating innovative and cutting-edge programmes and initiatives that would engage these students (millennials), while exposing them to in-demand skills and abilities for the modern workforce.
There needs to be more integration of technology to facilitate learning, the implementation of innovative methods such as the flipped classroom or the gamifying of maths lessons. We must figure out how best to reach these students where they are. The future of higher education, and that of our global economy, is dependent on the ability of colleges and universities around the world to produce a competitive workforce prepared to succeed in the global economy.
It is interesting that most of these millennial college students can’t envision life without technology. Devices they hold in the palm of their hands and store in their pockets connect them to the world at incredible speeds, and draw out information for them at the click of touch screens. Technology has redefined how people communicate and do business in the 21st century economy, and on our university campuses, it has disrupted conventional teaching and learning methods.
We need to get rid of the obsolete pedagogical method of the 50-minute lecture and examinations to evaluate comprehension. There are a myriad of lectures now available on podcasts and streaming platforms. The courses we offer our students must go beyond the physical boundaries of a classroom and include face-to-face contact with leaders, business owners and community stakeholders. Project-based learning and symbiotic partnerships with companies that enable paid internships and lead to employment offers, along with apprenticeships that expose students early-on to the realities of career responsibilities, are just some of the ways things have to change to enable the future readiness of our students.
The radical shift by our millennial students is that they are eager to be more than just employees. They want to be change makers at their workplaces, and to develop processes and policies that benefit not only the companies where they work but the communities where they live. They need to be exposed to crucial soft skills — critical and analytical thinking, effective communication, leadership, group effectiveness and others — that will ensure that they contribute to the success and well-being of others.
One study stated that more than 60 percent of employers declared that soft skills are the most important factors considered in an employee’s performance evaluation.
Therefore, it’s our duty as educators to ensure students gain these skills in our classrooms before they become part of the workforce.
It doesn’t just stop at creating innovative curricula, educators must foster the passion for life-long learning and create a new generation of students who are continuously returning to the classroom to make themselves more competitive professionally and more productive members of their community. This has been left to only certain professions for the longest time — medical doctors, accountants, engineers, attorneys and others, who spend an inordinate amount of time attending workshops or certification classes to ensure they are up to date with the latest developments in their fields.
This should be the norm across the board for everyone. Limiting a student’s learning experience to just technical skills and requirements of a particular field or trade was good enough previously, but it’s no longer sufficient these days.
If colleges and universities intend to stay relevant in the development of the world’s future leaders, we must meet up to the challenge set forth by our millennial students. Their successes, and the future of our global economy, depends on our commitment to innovation.
Help us with our mission to bring about change for our students. Please contact me to see what we can do to bring about the desired transformation that we all desire for our children to be future ready!!!
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.