The next generation of learners—called “Generation Alpha” by the media—is growing up swiping, snapping, recording and Googling. Twenty years ago, we might never have imagined someone would have a job as a social media manager, an app developer or a user-experience designer.

What does the future hold for today’s young learners? Will they grow up to be robot wranglers, health care navigators or tele-surgeons?

Preparing for the unknown

The rapid pace of innovation means we must be in a continuous state of improvement and growth. As parents, community leaders, entrepreneurs and educators, we have to empower students to succeed and participate in the creation of a world we can’t anticipate.

To achieve this, we need to:

  1. Accept that the pace of change in our world is going to continue to be rapid, and all aspects of our lives including education will continue to evolve.
  2. Create non-punitive school cultures that place value on what we learn from our mistakes.
  3. Promote collaboration among adults and students. We can all learn from one another, no matter our professions or experiences.

Real-world applications

As we create new learning environments, it’s critical that we recognize technology as a tool for learning. Third-graders are collaborating in science class to solve real-world environmental problems in their communities.

Middle school students are building STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—skills by designing adaptive learning solutions for their classmates and then making them a reality through the power of today’s 3D printing technologies. Through virtual learning, students in small, rural schools access courses, such as AP Physics or Japanese Language 101, online because their local districts are not able to offer them.

At the same time, students are leveraging the power of social media and other online environments to support learning inside and outside of the classroom. We’re raising a generation of thinkers, builders, creators and collaborators.

Adaptable understanding

Creating a new culture of learning, both in and out of school, sets a powerful example of lifelong learning to help students deal with change and uncertainty. This includes ensuring everyone—adults and students—has a common understanding of what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.

"Together, we will create an environment that ensures today’s learners, and the learners of the future, are prepared to thrive, achieve and contribute."

Working hand-in-hand with educators, parents can help ensure students adopt behaviors that will keep them safe in any online environment and help them grow into successful digital citizens who are kind, respectful and responsible.

Culture of learning

Educators are actively working with their students to recognize the importance of their digital footprint.

Of course, change is hard, and deep change in education is harder. If we’re not making mistakes as we create this new culture of learning, we’re not innovating. If we live up to our promise to support one another as lifelong learners and build environments that encourage us to learn from and share with peers, we’ll grow collectively and create a new learning ecosystem.

There are countless schools, educators and education leaders who successfully re-imagined the learning culture in their schools. They’re broadening not only the definition of student success, but our understanding of how to achieve it. Together, we will create an environment that ensures today’s learners, and the learners of the future, are prepared to thrive, achieve and contribute.