Learning in Higher Education – Contemporary Standpoints’ continues the thought-provoking and challenging series of anthologies produced by the international association Learning in Higher Education (LiHE). Today, it is a taken-for-granted assumption that the world has changed dramatically over the recent decades, and as a result today’s economies and societies need to develop and harness different skills and abilities if they are to survive and thrive. But has the Higher Education world really woken up to the nature and scale of the challenges it faces?

The contributors all take as their starting assumption that the recent changes in the nature of the student body should drive contemporary practices of learning in higher education. For “In today’s reality, the university cannot be a legitimate provider of methods and models to plan, act, check and do.” Instead of acting as experts transferring their valuable academic knowledge to students who have no prior information, the contributors argue that today’s university professors need to facilitate in students the development of knowledge which enables them to “learn for the future”.

This involves analysing the global context they are in, synthesing what are currently deemed as important knowledge and methods, making qualified decisions for constructive action, and reflecting on their normative consequences. As a result of changes in the context for teaching and learning in recent decades, universities are facing new challenges, the responses to which involve one or more of four different drivers, Collaboration; Design; Identity; and Transformation. Each of these is explored in turn.

 

The chapters on collaboration argue the importance of developing students’ ability to engage, question and work together in teams. The section on design focuses explicitly on issues of curriculum design and learning design, and the section on the role students’ identity plays in their ability to learn argues that students must be considered as a heterogeneous group driven in their learning activities by their personal identity projects. The final section focuses on the transformation processes both into and out of university, and explicitly addresses the ways in which students can be prepared to enter university and ways in which they can be prepared for their future roles in business and organisational life.

Only if student learning is seen as the nexus of both curriculum design and teaching practices will the higher education sector, and the institutions within it, be able to cope with the change from the industrial era to the digital era. These contributions will help all in higher education identify the challenges and plot the ways forward, both at individual and institutional level.

About the editors

Claus Nygaard is Professor in Management Education at Copenhagen Business School and executive director of LiHE. He can be contacted at: lihesupport@gmail.com

John Branch is Lecturer of Marketing at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and Faculty Associate at the Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies, both of the University of Michigan, U.S.A. He can be contacted at: jdbranch@umich.edu

Clive Holtham is Professor of Information Management and Director of the Learning Laboratory at Cass Business School, City University, London, UK. He can be contacted at: c.w.holtham@city.ac.uk

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About Learning in Higher Education – Contemporary Standpoints

The authors know from practice that students today are in many ways different from students in the past. Some may say they have a shorter attention span. Others may say they are more focused. Some may argue that they waste their time on the Internet during lectures. Others may argue that, as digital natives, they are using the technology in ways we have not experienced before. Such arguments will continue to thrive in the university sector as it tries to develop and reinvent itself to cope with the change from the industrial era to the digital era.
For the editors of this book, they find this development of the university sector to be a fascinating challenge. Their argument is that this process will succeed only if student learning is seen as the nexus of both curriculum design and teaching practices. Each of these thirteen chapters shows a possible way forward in that respect. As editors, they have no doubt that the cases on collaboration, design, identity and transformation will serve as inspiration for individual teachers, as well as faculty groups, striving to take their own university teaching to the next level.