Key to Success in the Future of Work? Experiential Learning.

In light of our rapidly evolving economy, it is becoming increasingly evident that we have an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine the traditional classroom experience. As both jobs and entire industries are continually transforming, we now have the chance to completely rethink how we prepare students for the workforce. Forward-thinking academics and education leaders recognize this opportunity and are exploring how higher learning can adapt to help students meet the professional workplace needs of the future.

A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed 70 percent of respondents believe that new educational and training programs will arise to rapidly and successfully train large groups of people to perform the jobs of tomorrow.

‘Future’ is the key word here. Our approach must remain adaptable and responsive to new trends and changing priorities. Try as we might, we don’t know what the future holds. Bearing that in mind, how can we reimagine the classroom experience? How can we endow students with the mindset to not only expect change, but embrace it?

At ASU, we have found that by focusing on experiential learning, students acquire the qualities that will best equip them for the future of work: social intelligence, creative thinking, adaptability and collaboration across multiple disciplines. Incidentally, these are also qualities most desired by employers.

Experiential learning takes many different forms at ASU. One example is The Luminosity Lab. This group of students from a variety of educational backgrounds is leveraging the university’s transdisciplinary model to seek unconventional and effective solutions to global grand challenges. The Luminosity Lab frequently hosts hackathons, such as EmergenTech: Hack ASU, to showcase the innovative ideas and solutions formed through experiential learning.

Projects emerging from the lab include an artificially intelligent companion that aims to facilitate lifelong learning, guardian drones designed to be dispatched by campus police when emergency blue beacons are activated, and a haptic feedback vest to assist individuals who are blind with obstacle avoidance and situational awareness.

The Luminosity Lab and its students are outstanding examples of what happens when a university prioritizes experiential learning. They are creating opportunities for themselves now, leveraging what they’ve gained through experiential learning and defining their own skills and strengths instead of passively learning and accumulating qualifications for the workforce. They are creating their own model of education; a pursuit ASU is dedicated to supporting.