Future of Student Needs

Student Needs Delphi: Crowdsourcing the Future of Student Needs

The Student Needs project followed the standard approach of a typical UH foresight study: that the “most likely future” will happen…unless something else does. As futurists, we’re excited about the “something else” not the “likely,” yet we always put the likely future out there first. So one of the core ideas of the UH framework approach is that there is a likely, or baseline future, usually with a lot of obvious qualities. Some people call this future the “Present, continued” future. For example: Continued globalization? Check. Continued emphasis on technology in our lives? Check. Continued and worsening impacts from climate change? Check. Flying cars and robot overlords? Check—at least in the public imagination.

But the real reason futurists become futurists is to talk about what else might happen, things that might surprise us or usher in a dramatic shift from the expected. The Student Needs team devised a list of accelerators, which are events that could happen and would quickly narrow the gap between a baseline and an alternative future. Our premise is that things can be going along just as they are when suddenly an accelerating event occurs and reality changes direction. Our list is generated out of creative thought processes, though based on a number of plausible premises (i.e., key uncertainties) that, resolved in one way or another, may very well determine the future we face.

We invite you to contribute to envisioning the future of student needs by participating in a mini-Delphi study, which is essentially a way of crowdsourcing the wisdom of groups. A well-established futurist methodology, a Delphi basically polls experts on their impressions of future conditions and generates insights from their responses. Submit your answers and check back for results!

Student Needs Mini-Delphi

When do you think these accelerating events will happen? Make your best prediction from the choices given.

1. AI (Artificial Intelligence), AR (Artificial Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) are commonplace. Communication, socialization and relationships all make a shift toward the virtual.

a. 2019

b. 2024

c. 2035

d. 2040

e. Other: __________

f. Never

2. Transparency proves stronger than privacy. Increasing awareness of “Big Brother” society prompts a civil uprising.

a. 2016

b. 2020

c. 2024

d. 2050

e. Other: _________

f. Never

3. Constructive hackers outflank destructive. Hacking becomes patriotic, blurring the line between formal and informal civic participation.

a. 2018

b. 2022

c. 2030

d. Other: __________

e. Never

4. The student loan bubble pops. A financial meltdown disrupts housing, stock market, and banking on the scale of the 2008 crisis.

a. 2015

b. 2018

c. 2021

d. Other: __________

e. Never

5. Decrease in participation in higher education to 50% or less (62% of U.S. high school graduates attended college in 2010).

a. 2020

b. 2030

c. 2040

d. Other: ___________

e. Never