Master Plan Committee Update #3

This is a continuation of the previous update about the same committee meeting on June 29th. This blog discuses the heart of the meeting, which highlighted the differences between traditional higher education and future higher education. It is vital that the committee is informed of future trends among communities in order to adjust the University Union accordingly.

John Sharpstene, Facility Programmer, provided facts and information about the college experiences of students in the past and how current and future students’ experiences are very much unlike those of the traditional styles.

Traditionally, education within universities was more teacher-directed. The instructor teaches; the student learns the material provided by the university’s staff. It was a very simple method of education. With a lack of the convenient and advanced technology we have today, students used their university’s campus as a primary source for education and experience. Sharpstene defined this type of traditional university as a “brick university.” This means that education, course material, and services were mainly provided on the campus itself.

Sharpstene stated that the traditional student experience was more “physical “ & “building-to-building.” Universities’ resources, services, and education were centered on campus. It truly was a more physical college experience, which centered on the campus’s facilities and buildings. This traditional standard contrasts with the ways students and universities interact in modern times.

Sharpstene followed this explanation of traditional styles by introducing how modern and future students view and will view their own university. He classified modern and future higher education as “Brick-and-Click Universities.” This signifies that students choose what to learn and at their own pace. College courses are learner-directed, rather than teacher-directed. The instructor is a “guide by the side,” as Sharpstene stated. Students today are able to access course content and university services on and off campus. Blackboard, course WebPages, etc. have allowed students to stay connected to classes and course material without actually being on the campus. Technological advances have allowed for a more virtual and electronic college experience.

The future student experience will become more convenient and accessible on and off campus. Students will expect to receive services and other resources that universities provide all in one place, at one time. These modern and future students expect conveniences and college experiences in the most efficient way possible.

How is this relevant to the Union Master Plan Committee?

When students expect to get what they need all in one place, at one time, the University’s facilities must adjust to the community’s needs. The committee must be informed of the trends among college students and aware of developing technology. They must plan the Union’s changes in accordance to UNT’s community expectations in order to provide the community and students with a complete college experience.

In the next blog update, I will describe what exactly the committee plans to do to the University Union: features, services, etc.