Global learners, global innovation

In 2020 we are focusing on the global learner of the future, their journey to becoming a global innovator and how this shapes global learning institutions:

  • As the student body across the world changes and evolves, what will its future profile and nature be? What will be the aims and expectations of its different members?
  • What type of learning, and learning environment, will be needed to develop and support a future generation of global innovators? Will it require very different forms of global learning institutions?
  • What is the global context in which those learners must become innovators? How will global challenges evolve and what kinds of innovation will be required to tackle them? How should governments respond and support global learning?

These will be explored under the following themes:

The global learner

In 2020, we are seeking a better understanding of future learners, their learning journeys and how institutions are responding to these. Areas for discussion include:

How do we respond to the changing nature of the learner population, their profiles, ambitions, objectives and expectations?

  • With growth in “non-traditional” students, lifelong learners, and the growing numbers of students displaced or in some form of mobility, how have learners expectations changed and developed? What will these be in the next generation?
  • What do the new generation of global learners expect in terms of learning experience and support?
  • Is there a common understanding of care and support for the physical and mental well-being of students, as well as the provision of safe spaces and protection of freedom of speech? Is it important to have a common, global interpretation and if so how do we reach this?

How are learning journeys evolving? Including lifelong pathways through student, to researcher, practitioner and innovator:

  • How can learners access education in new ways?
  • How can learning providers reach new types of learner and maintain relationships across a lifetime of learning? What are the changing modes of engaging with students globally and the contexts in which they operate throughout their learning journey?
  • How will student enterprise and innovation be measured?

What does it mean to be a learner in a global academic community?

  • Should education focus on reflecting global knowledge? Understanding how to apply knowledge in different cultural contexts? Experiencing learning in different contexts? Developing global competencies?
  • Developing attitudes, capabilities and ‘soft’ skills alongside subject knowledge, are seen as critical in equipping students to develop innovative solutions. But how do different types of learners view this? And how can we strengthen learners’ critical thinking so they are able to generate innovative solutions and to view these through a variety of inter-disciplinary lenses to ensure the best possible outcomes?

The global learning institution

We will explore how new learners and their learning journeys will change the structure, strategies and mechanisms of global tertiary education provision. Areas for discussion include:

What does it mean to be a learning institution in a global world?

  • How are the roles, responsibilities and relationships of global learning institutions changing? How can institutions remain relevant into the future and what challenges and opportunities do they face in doing so?
  • How are institutions evolving to meet the needs of different kinds of learners and to ensure they are active innovators? How should universities and colleges support learners’ innovation?
  • How are institutions ensuring that they are, themselves, innovators and role models for new learning and innovation?

Who are the future learning providers and partners?

  • How should tertiaryeducation systems better accommodate and assimilate knowledge bases outside of universities and colleges? Are existing education systems set up to do this? How far should institutions move from creators to curators?
  • Who are the key partners in the future co-creation of knowledge? How will the inclusion of new co-creators shape their global education and research networks?
  • How should institutions respond to political and social influences on learners and learning?

How do we provide innovative learning design and delivery of curricula and programmes?

  • What strategies are institutions developing to support learners of all ages and backgrounds to enter new types of careers and develop the skills to be able to change careers several times throughout their working lives?
  • How are the essential skills needed to promote innovation, encourage enterprise, and balance knowledge with essential ethical understandings understood, presented, assimilated and evaluated? How should a sense of ethical responsibility be taught alongside the knowledge, expertise and capability gained through education be taught and assessed?
  • How are institutions delivering pedagogic innovation in design and curriculum development, including work and practice-based awards at undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral and postdoctoral levels?
  • As learners continue to become more mobile than ever before, how flexible can institutions be? How far can innovative mechanisms and systems (e.g., micro-credentialing help record skills and knowledge) facilitate flexibility?

The global learning context

We want to gain a better understanding of the impact of political, social and cultural contexts on the learner’s experience and journey by exploring how government policies and institutional strategies encourage the transition from learning to innovation. Areas for discussion include:

What impact does political emphasis have on innovation and learning?

  • How do national strategies for education and research influence both institutions and learners?
  • How do political, social and cultural contexts determine the extent to which learners become innovators? How can governments drive and support the link between learning and innovation?
  • How can global institutions and governments foster the integration of international education, research and enterprise to maximise innovation?

How can national policies influence global objectives and meet international challenges?

  • How well are learners engaged with sustainable development goals and their position as both a beneficiary and a potential contributor? How can global institutions and national governments strengthen that engagement?
  • Does tertiary education have a role in mitigating constraining cultures as internally focused outlooks become increasingly penetrative?
  • How can governments help to bridge the gap between skills and academic strength? How does government funding affect the development of professionalism?
  • How far can international collaboration support the transfer of ‘licence to practice’ and ‘professional accreditation’ of awards?