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Monday, June 17, 2024
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    Generation Alpha’s world

    By 2025, Millennials will make up almost 75 percent of the global workforce; Gen Zers, born in the mid-1990s, have already started graduating from higher education and are making their mark in the world of business.

    Now it’s time for universities and business schools to turn their attention to the next generation: Generation Alpha.

    Gen Alpha, the first generation born entirely in the 21st century, has been surrounded by technology since the day they were born, oblivious to a world where smartphones or social media didn’t govern over the lives of the masses.

    This knowledge and greater understanding of technology from an early age will shape the ways in which Gen Alpha students are taught throughout their education and navigate their working lives. But what lies ahead for these digital natives?

    The key difference for Gen Alpha – when comparing the studies of Millennials and Gen Z – is their university experience will be significantly richer in technology integration, with heightened blends of traditional learning and virtual and augmented realities.

    Alain Goudey, Associate Dean for Digital at France’s NEOMA Business School says: “For Gen Alpha, digital tools are second nature, so universities will likely embed technology more deeply into everyday learning processes. This could include virtual reality for immersive learning experiences, augmented reality for practical applications in real-world settings and AI-driven personal learning assistants.

    “It also includes reshaping learning content to adapt their codes which are mainly from games and movies; learning through gamification, which incorporates game design elements in educational contexts, will likely be prevalent.”

    Goudey believes this focus on learning through gamification will increase engagement, motivation and retention of information, especially in subjects that benefit from dynamic interaction.

    Estefania Santacreu-Vasut, Associate Dean of Pedagogy and Professor of Economics at ESSEC Business School, in France, agrees in the blending of the virtual and human experience: “In a world where information seems to be a click away, combining personalised learning with rich pedagogical experiences will be the added value of universities and business schools to foster knowledge creation and mastery.

    “Preparing this generation of students also requires taking an integrative approach to pedagogy, where care and health are a precondition for learning. Future curricula should be seen as a network of knowledge, where deep scientific research is connected to real world applications in an interdisciplinary way.”

    The role of universities and business schools as creators, curators and communicators of innovative and substantial ideas will continue to be important to demonstrate how necessary research truly is when developing a theory in a digital world.

    “Raising awareness for source criticality among students gains ever increasing importance in the era of ubiquitous information availability via digital channels and AI empowered tools,” adds Tomas Falk, Associate Dean of teaching and education and Professor of Marketing at Finland’s Aalto University School of Business.

    Catching the attention of Gen Alpha

    Educational institutions across the globe are already preparing for Gen Alpha by investing in digital infrastructure and adopting new teaching methodologies that are both technology-driven and flexible.

    Proactive engagement between higher education institutions and future students will also be imperative.

    “Proactive engagement includes partnerships with tech companies and early education initiatives to understand Gen Alpha’s learning behaviors and preferences, so broad needs can be identified, and a more agile way to react is identified,” says Nalisha Patel, Regional Director for Europe at Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

    Understanding Gen Alpha’s generational characteristics will be key to successful messaging for higher education institutions – and Generation Alpha will be banging on the (virtual) doors of universities and business schools sooner than we think.

    But where should higher education institutions be focussing their efforts to ensure they pre-emptively draw the attention of the world’s future leaders?

    “Higher education institutions will need to provide personalised support and look at well-being, diversity and authenticity, as Gen Alpha’s expectations are as such,” says Professor Sankar Sivarajah, Dean of the School of Management at the University of Bradford in the UK.

    “Leveraging platforms like social media that the generation are already using to promote and engage with them as learner.”

    As a generation set to be more socially aware of the world around them, diversity will likely be a core value for Gen Alpha. If an institution is perceived as discriminatory or selective, this will be a big red flag to prospective students.

    Gen Alpha’s patience for inequality will decrease as they grow up, meaning brands championing social issues and diversity while embracing widespread change will be the frontrunners in the eyes of this generation.

    Universities celebrating the diversity of the campus community will thrive – but higher education institutions need to ensure their messaging is authentic, or Gen Alpha won’t engage.

    As a group of students, Gen Alpha will be far more connected to the world than the generations before them – and this generation will in turn value learning opportunities that deepen their understanding of the world around them.

    Mark McCrindle, the social researcher and futurist who coined the term Generation Alpha says the group is called the world’s first global generation because other generations were not submerged in a world where technology connects social media platforms that engage the news feeds as we see today and will continue to see in the future.

    And it is because of this global interconnectivity that Gen Alpha will value cultural diversity in their classrooms and places of work.

    Whether study abroad opportunities, virtual explorations of culture, service trip or international business academies, higher education institutions will need to demonstrate just how great their global reach is to set them apart.

    Read the full article from QS Insights Magazine, Issue 17.