On Campus

What should the "Gen Y" student learn in university?

Professor Joseph Kim discusses how students increasingly expect a high-tech education

There are a lot of buzz words associated with the current generation of students entering university. The Gen Y student, who has never known a world without the internet, is thought to be high-tech savvy, multi-tasking, connected, and experiential. How should universities adapt to teach this generation of students?

Things have changed on campus from my undergraduate days when a band called Nirvana wore flannel and played something called grunge music.

Students today expect campuses to be wireless, libraries to be digital centres, and professors to augment lectures with active learning and multimedia. More and more, universities are moving towards so-called “blended-learning models” which combine traditional classroom instruction with on-line resources that are available “on demand”.

These changes are offering students many more ways to engage in flexible learning. However, many of the core skills you should learn in university remain unchanged:

1. Personal management. With more and more competing demands, your major challenge will be to learn to balance your schedule and manage your time. Professors (and future employers) reward those that can deliver the final quality product on time.

2. Critical thinking and evaluating new information. To successfully navigate through a world brimming with information, you need to do more than memorize facts. Applying your knowledge and understanding what is important requires critical thinking.

3. Verbal and written communication. The ability to effectively express your ideas to others is an essential skill that will serve you well in whatever career you pursue. You may only have one chance to convince your future supervisor with a concise report or a well-organized presentation.

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