[50] What the Future Student Wants and Needs: Immersive Learning, Game-Culture Classrooms, Job-Ready Expanded Skill Set, Flexibility, and Cultural Competency


What the Future Student Wants and Needs: Immersive Learning, Game-Culture Classrooms, Job-Ready Expanded Skill Set, Flexibility, and Cultural Competency


Wendy Turner


In June 2013 a report from the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, part of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, came out with a whitepaper called “The Heart of the Matter” that discussed education from pre-school through higher education (https://www.humanitiescommission.org/_pdf/HSS_Report.pdf). In part they write, “… jobs of today […] [are based] on the development of professional flexibility and long-term qualities of mind: inquisitiveness, perceptiveness, the ability to put a received idea to a new purpose, and the capacity to share and build ideas with others.” In 2018, the University System of Georgia, after a two-year discussion between academics and industry professionals, came out with a report on “College 2025: Adaptability, Essential Skills, Lifelong Learning, and Partnerships” (https://www.usg.edu/college2025). I was part of this team. We found that while we cannot predict the future or know what skills future jobs might need, we can teach our students to become more flexible, to learn on their own, and to know how to respond with sensitivity to the world and people around them. To get them job ready, we can also find our students hands-on training. Universities, colleges, departments, and even individual faculty members should build good partnerships with community businesses, libraries, schools, and others institutions, in terms of research, internships, and hands-on training and practice those skills in the classroom.
This poster will explore some immersive and game-based learning options that can be implemented, including “Reacting to the Past”, which has games ranging from sociological problems to science questions to history (http://books.wwnorton.com/books/reactingpast.aspx; and https://reacting.barnard.edu/). While Reacting presents students with a problem to solve as a group, often teams or sides that debate their way to a solution, immersive learning presents problems that need solved sometimes within a real-world digital environment, whether that is a maker space, laboratory, or public health issues (and I have a seen a few with outside pressures added, such as interference from the media or mechanical malfunction). All of these types of learning environments teach students how to do research, to think critically about issues, to problem solve, to debate, to work in groups, to lead, and to write all while investing themselves into a particular subject, learning the details of a sub-field.
The presentation materials will also explore the “new” skill-set employers expect the university graduate to have stepping into the job-market. This skill-set includes most of the skills we may be used to—such as communication and critical thinking skills—but it also includes computer skills, flexibility, multi-tasking, cultural competency and sensitivity, narrative presence, and hyper-thinking skills (innovation & outside-the-box thinking). If we can equip and encourage our students to think beyond the task at hand, we can give them the skills not only to succeed at their first job, but at any job they want to tackle, including management positions and leadership. This presentation hopes to demonstrate that we are teaching the right things, now let’s teach it in the right way.

Session Outline

• Explore the future of higher education through the lens of students’ wants and needs for learning
• Define Immersive Learning and Game-Culture Classrooms (which are part of the “flipped/inverted/upside-down” classroom movement)
• Examine the twenty-first century skill set for job-readiness
• Explain the employer desire for skills and cultural competency

Key Messages

• Give examples of Immersive Learning and Game-Culture products that are useful, often free or semi-free and how to get training
• Provide a list of skills that employers want in job-ready students with a set of possible classroom activities to introduce, reinforce or expand those skills in students
• Offer suggestions for how to build in cultural (and gendered) competency into classrooms

Key Words

Cultural Competency, Immersive, Game


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