Yesterday, July 29th, I once again sat amongst the Master Plan Committee as they met to discuss the Union Master Plan Project in order to define the plan and prioritize the committee’s mission. John Sharpstene, Facility Programmer, gave a presentation with the intention of educating the committee about changes within higher education and college communities. The presentation also highlighted how students, methods of education, and college experiences have developed from traditional styles into modern and advanced systems.
John Sharpstone’s presentation introduction emphasized the lifestyles and collegiate experiences of today’s college students. Students today have a 24/7 lifestyle. This means that students expect to obtain what they need instantly and all in one place. The “24/7 lifestyle” that Sharpstene explained is an expression for students expecting user-friendly everything: convenience, mobile access to course material, any time/any day access etc. Students are looking for an experience while attending college. The plans for the future Union must adjust to the social expectations of the UNT community.
During the core of the presentation, Sharpstene then stressed various factors indicating nation-wide change that will surely affect the plans of the committee.
One of these features is demographics. Throughout many states, high school graduates are decreasing. Another factor is globalization. New career opportunities are on the rise while some are falling short. University staff must educate, prepare, and train its students for these ever-changing career paths of the future.
Sharpstene then introduced a few other factors indicating change among today’s students. Students expect individualized service, access to content on the internet, and other technologically advanced services. Sharpstene described “expectation of individualized service” as the ability to attain and use the services, that the University provides, conveniently and fitting to the needs of each and every individual student.
One aspect of “expectation of individualized service” is the internet and mobile access to the University’s services. In modern times, students expect and extensively use educational and course content that is provided on the internet: Blackboard, My UNT, and mobile access to these types of services. Other examples of services to be accessed on the internet or through programs not affiliated with a university include online universities, corporate training programs, and many other methods of online education. Sharpstene described these online services as “distance learning.”
But what does this mean for the Union Master Plan Project and the University Union?
Student lifestyles are constantly changing as technology has become more advanced, user-friendly, and customized for the individual. The University Union must adjust accordingly to the lifestyles of students of today and the future. The committee aims to use the facts and information about its own community and trends among the nation to alter the facility in order to fit the needs and expectations of UNT’s students and community.
Look out for Update #3 explaining more about what was discussed at the committee’s meeting!!!