What does the future of learning look like? Faculty and students … – Lumina Foundation

My whole life I’ve been curious about exoskeletons. As a child, I dreamed about building one for humans. Well, while Sarcos beat me to the punch with its wearable robotics, it hasn’t quashed my fascination with how humans and technology form a symbiotic relationship.
So, when presented with an opportunity to explore viewpoints on the integration of technology into learning, we wondered: Do faculty and students have the same perceptions of digital tools? If so, what type of “educational exoskeleton” – technological framework built around student needs – might we envision existing in the future?
The result was a survey called “Time for Class,” recently published by Tyton Partners and supported in part by Lumina Foundation. Here are three takeaways of many, from a very rich report.
When asked about preferences for course materials format, students largely selected digital options, at 75%. Faculty, on the other hand, are still figuring it out, with 20% not expressing a preference. Just 46% prefer digital course materials, and 34% favor printed materials.
But the large 20% who say they’re indifferent presents an analytical conundrum. Did they respond that way while transitioning from print to digital? If so, then perhaps there is only a difference of 10 percentage points between the preferences of faculty and students. But if faculty respondents responded “no preference” because they didn’t want to seem behind the times, then there could be a larger 29-percentage-point gap that is substantial – and problematic.
One thing is clear: Faculty need to express a point of view.
Faculty have a higher preference for face-to-face courses, and students have a higher preference for learning to occur with at least some online elements. But most faculty and students still value some in-person interaction.
Considering substantial advancements in access to computational power and machine learning, it is and will remain interesting to see how this desire for human interaction evolves. We could see more creative embraces of the flipped classroom, which eschews traditional lectures for students to instead use the shared space to make sense of what they’re learning. Still, I wonder whether the current culture wars over addressing issues of race and diversity, equity, and inclusion in classrooms will dampen the desire and openness to the co-construction of knowledge.
We are in the early days in the arc of artificial intelligence, and faculty and students are already intrigued. The majority of both, 50% and 54% respectively, believe AI has a positive effect on student learning, compared to 22% of each faculty and students who believe its impact is negative. While artificial intelligence can certainly complete the homework the dog ate, I wonder if it can answer a more detailed question in a Socratic seminar?
What the report, and the three select findings shared here, portend is that edtech tools are here to stay.  Exactly how they literally, and perhaps figuratively, support the future of learning is yet to be seen. What I do know is that if I were a child now, the exoskeleton I envisioned would likely be able to do more than I ever imagined!
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision higher learning that is easy to navigate, addresses racial injustice, and meets the nation’s talent needs through a broad range of credentials. We are working toward a system that prepares people for informed citizenship and success in a global economy.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top