What Are the Attributes of a Future-Ready College Learner?

The effort to ensure that learners are “future-ready” has gained momentum in recent years. Stakeholders have identified the importance of digital learning tools to ensure learners’ success. And although the effort has largely focused on elementary and secondary education, that does not mean that college learners are off the hook. Rather, the same principles that benefit younger learners will help college learners make the most of their higher education experience. 

One principle from the future-ready movement that can benefit college learners is the concept of personalized learning. College learners are old enough to take learning into their own hands and ensure that they maximize their opportunities. For example, college learners should take advantage of study sessions. They can also utilize digital tools such as Skype or Google Hangouts to increase their contact with their instructor and other learners. They can also seek out online digital resources that can help them understand course materials. 

Although the best tools will depend on the subject being studied, Google Scholar is an excellent all-purpose source for accessing reliable info. Learners should seek out resources on their campus that can inform them about education technology tools that can maximize their study time.

College learners will also benefit from mastering education technology tools rather than letting the tools master them. Many college learners multitask with tech tools, but they need to understand that research shows that multitasking decreases productivity and learning. In fact, learner performance increases when a learner does not have their phone in the room. Even a phone placed face down on the desk decreases a learner’s cognitive performance. Although it takes a great deal of discipline, learners should learn to separate their study time from their social time to maximize their learning.

Perhaps the most important way college learners can become future-ready is to think deeply and carefully about data and privacy. College learners need to understand the potential ramifications of decisions to “overshare,” especially about socially unacceptable behaviors. These abilities are just as important to the twenty-first century as locking one’s car doors was in the last century.

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