Future Universities and Graduates

This fall I am invited to speak at  a number of events which all deal with shape and challenges, potential and pitfalls of the future digital university. In 2 weeks I will leave for Singapour where I have been invited to keynote at the ASEF Rectors’ Conference and Students’ Forum (ARC). The Conference is a dialogue platform for university leaders, business representatives, policy makers and students to discuss higher education issues and shape the education landscape in Asia-Europe. The 6th edition of the ASEF Rectors’ Conference and Students’ Forum (ARC6)  addresses the topic of “Future Universities and Graduate: Quality Education Beyond the Horizon” and invites over 280 representatives from academia, governments, business and industry, students and youth associations as well as NGOs and IGOs.

For conference I contributed a paper on one specific aspect of the new challenges for the future university – the third mission. And even more specifically, how universities can deal with new demands for holistic, global lifelong learning. For higher HEI, the new agenda for LLL will have a significant impact. Usually referred to as the third mission of universities, they need to open up to the needs and developments within the community they are set in, and contribute to the development of smart regions. In order to do so, LLL programs and offerings will become essential as they form the bridge between graduates’ LLL process and the HEI. Through these efforts, graduates will have a chance to maintain relevant skills for the labour market, and develop in their life. Of course, it is not the sole responsibility of HEI but they form an important part in the community and network of education providers. The integration of LLL skills into academic programs becomes increasingly important. This comprises the integration of LLL skills into existing academic curricula in order to prepare students for their LLL pathways, as well as the concise development of offerings and programs for LLL of HEIs.

To realise the turn within higher education and start supporting students for a LLL journey, HEIs need to develop LLL cultures. There are three different dimensions to learning cultures. In my contribution I a summarising the state of art research on development of learning cultures and organisational cultures for higher education.

In order to foster the development of new LLL cultures policy makers, institutions and learners need to come together in a common effort. They all have to contribute to a new, holistic LLL agenda:

  • Students have, due to the changed demographics and growing diversity, a growing need for competence development rather than knowledge transfer, for practice oriented, authentic learning scenarios rather than artificial “as-if” education, and enforced mobility needs.
  • Teachers, trainers, professors and lecturers are demanding a redefinition of the balance between teaching, learning and research. In particular faculty has to shape a new university landscape by breaking down disciplinary boundaries and by adopting new forms of flexible and learner centred educational models which are oriented towards innovation and competence development.
  • Teachers are requesting to change their roles from information transmitters in a distributive paradigm, to coaches who support social interaction, innovation and invention, and who deal with new, unanswered questions as origin for student’s learning processes, in a participative and reflective paradigm of learning. Learning in a holistic LLL agenda will be reoriented along paradigms of collaboration, reflection and interaction. Learning processes, their assessment and measurement will focus on relevance for practice and competence.
  • Teachers have to become artists, playing with the dialogical nature of learning and teaching. They have to find more creative ways to provide education in a diverse range of pedagogical models. New activity patterns concerning dimensions of locality and space, time and topics need to be practiced.
  • University administrations have to develop into teaching and research support centres which suggest ways of organizing higher education ahead of pressing challenges, and which gain a better understanding on the need for restructuration. More than merely organizing higher education processes, these new administrative entities stand for the values, believes and everyday practices that are increasingly adopted in modern universities. They will play a decisive role in supporting the whole institution in particular on issues like the integration of ICTs for learning and teaching, the interplay between research and administration, the creation of knowledge flows and public understanding of science.
  • Higher education institutions today are often over-managed and under-lead. A new role for higher education management will be the systematic and strategic development and implementation of visions on how HEIs can be turned into revolutionary and forward-leading learning organizations.

Finally, government, the public sector, and civil society will find new ways of relating to universities as major actors in the development of societies capability to contribute to solve current and future problems, and to serve the citizens’ well-being and economic prospering.

Find here the complete paper: Lifelong Learning: Holistic and Global Education

(2017-10-ASEF-LLL-Paper-Ehlers)

 

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About Ulf-Daniel Ehlers

Ulf is a learning innovation expert and has been appointed Professor for Educational Management and Lifelong Learning at the Baden-Wurttemberg Cooperative State University in Karlsruhe in 2011. From 2011-2016 he held the position of Vicepresident at the same university and has been responsible for Quality and Academic Affairs. He held positions as Associate Professor of University Duisburg-Essen (Germany), Professor for Technology Enhanced Learning of University Augsburg (Germany) and Associate Professor of the Graduate School for Management and Technology of the University of Maryland University College (USA). Ulf is a featured keynote-speaker and speaker to audiences in more than 45 countries and is author of more than 150 scholarly articles with over 3000 academic citations. Ulf holds degrees in English Language, Social Sciences and Education Sciences from the University of Bielefeld, where he finished his Ph.D. with honors in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning in 2003. He was awarded his habilitation in 2008 from the University of Duisburg-Essen.
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