Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Future of Academia Part 1: Students

I'm sorry that it's been nearly a week since I've last posted.  I am in the thick of things at the end of the semester with quite a lot of projects due this week and next.  I finished my Introduction to Web Development project which you may find here.  I also finished writing out my fake grant proposal.  Now, I am down to the last paper, a project for my Academic Libraries class, in which we are supposed to imagine ourselves given the unenviable task of moving resources around to accommodate the new direction of the small university where we work. 

As I spoke about in a recent discussion board post in my class, academic libraries will have to evolve if they want to continue fulfilling their mission, which for the majority of academic libraries is to support the curriculum of the university and to facilitate learning.  Universities are realizing that the demographics of students is not the same as it used to be.  Students are becoming older.  Many have returned after a hiatus that may have included having families, or are in the process of switching careers, or they need more education to become marketable or eligible for a promotion/pay raise.  Students no longer have the ability to go to school full-time, or during the day.  Therefore, night classes are becoming popular, as well as distance learning or online degree programs. For quite a while now, the female student population has overtaken the number of male students at universities.  Furthermore, eventually, the number of racial minority students will outnumber white students.  How will universities deal with the issue of racial and gender diversity?

The Chronicle published a three part report on the subject in 2009, looking forward to what the college of 2020 will look like.  If you're interested in the subject, take a look.

Of course, the next question is, how are universities going to handle this shift in demographics and student needs?  I'll explore that in the next part.  In the third and final part, I'll look at how academic libraries will be effected by all the changes in academia.  If you'd like a little insight on how the 21st century is already affecting academic libraries, check out a comic by an engineering student at my university

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