Thursday 5 June 2014

Youth: A Catalyst For Educational Change

It is always interesting to notice how youth culture and behavior is shaping education. With the rise of the Internet we have seen an introduction of various new resources to class rooms as well as a variety of new study directions to accommodate the influx of youths who want to work in these fields. Here is a quick breakdown of five ways youth have become catalysts for change in education:

Change #1 – The introduction of technology in the classroom
The University of Johannesburg was one of the first South African universities to introduce compulsory tablets for all first year students. Many schools also include interactive white boards in the class room to enhance the classroom experience. Youth enjoy learning by means of technology and this encourages engagement and access to even more information.

Change #2 – The need for new ways to gain an education
Many universities and colleges choose to offer a variety of short online  courses  that students can take to earn credits toward a degree or just to enrich their skills or develop their existing skills.

Change #3 – Learning beyond the classroom
Many students enjoy taking their studies beyond the classroom, choosing to view lectures online in their own time, engaging in student forums or engaging with and sharing a variety of study materials. Institutions naturally have to make provision for this, allowing students to be able to supplement their studies with these kind of resources.

Change #4 – Enriched resources
Whether prescribed textbooks are available for tablet, or whether an institution chooses to engage students in a virtual space, many students prefer rich content. Youth have become accustomed to second screen experiences – they choose to tweet while they watch TV or Google matters of interest while watching the Discovery Channel. The need for rich resources has never been greater. Academic, literary and cultural references can be at hand when you refer to them and eliminate the fact that many students will forget to look up a reference in the library.

Change #5 – The type of courses on offer
The popularity of the Internet provides a variety of new opportunities and career paths. Many of those who are specialists in the field are young working people and this is but one example of how new technology and social advancements can shape the need for new departments in education… popular culture is no longer something you experience on MTV, but you can learn about it to ensure that you can include the best approaches in your marketing attempts. The rise in popularity of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Mxit among youth ensures that “best practices” are introduced in a syllabus as well.

Youth will always remain a dynamic part of our society and with the investment in youth and how they contribute to the future of South Africa, it is only natural that they play a role in how education is shaped.

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