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RBC
Rhonda Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor, York University John Baker, Founder and CEO, D2L.

What Is the Single Biggest Change You Have Seen in Post-Secondary Education Over the Past Decade?

Rhonda: By far, the biggest change has been the disruptive change of technology. Technology has changed the way we share information, how we collaborate on research, and it shapes our priorities. Technology has also facilitated and enhanced the globalization of education, and given the increased focus on international education and international opportunities; as a post-secondary institution in Toronto – Canada – our diversity is a strength.

John: The biggest shift has been the shift to digital, to online education. Today’s post-secondary students live an “on demand” life, whereby they can access almost any kind of content – either music, videos, books – on their own time and in their own place. That means that the ability to learn and study is not necessarily accommodated any longer by a traditional model of regularly scheduled, in-class, daytime classes, but more of an “anytime/anywhere” access to the information, the labs, and the profs.

Will the University Campus Still Be Recognizable in 20 Years? Will There Even Be Campuses?

John: We believe that the physical university campus that we know of today will still have its place, but it will evolve, and may not be the norm as we know it today. Given that more and more learning is moving online, for example, there will be far fewer in-person lectures. While gathering for purposes of a shared experience is incredibly valuable on many levels, whether it is to learn, go to a live concert, see a play, or gather in peaceful demonstration, the old model of everyone attending a class at the same time on the same day just doesn’t match with the trends we’re seeing around the world for a personalized, learner-centric model that delivers the content in a much more flexible way to the learner.

Rhonda: While the days of the ivory tower are gone, we still value face to face connection and in-person learning experience. We are in a time of transformative change – including the physical spaces that support higher education, but I see more growth, integrated technology, and improved access to information as complementary to our increasing focus on experiential education and the high demand for hands on learning experiences from both students and employers.

Do You Believe in Mandatory Coding Classes for Elementary School Children?

Rhonda: Higher education must keep pace with the fast changing demands of today’s society. I am a sociologist and an educator, passionate about teaching and learning. I believe k-12 curriculum must also change and adapt to ensure students have the basic skills needed to succeed.

John: Coding is another form of literacy – in this case, digital literacy. And digital literacy provides a core foundation for so many of the tools we use today, and will use tomorrow. This doesn’t mean everyone has to become a coder, but learning the fundamentals will help people speak the language of the future. And, importantly, including it for all kids, girls and boys, will help fill the “top of funnel” pipeline problem for girls getting into STEM programs. Coding will teach kids the competencies and skills demanded for the future world of work, including critical thinking and problem solving. Those are lifelong skills that everyone needs.