The student and their relationship to the institution and their discipline is the common thread running through the discourses around the future of higher education in the digital age. Variously described as the client, the customer, the learner, the market and the problem, the student is at the very heart of the function of a modern university. More than an enrolled presence in a virtual or physical classroom, the student is one of the demonstrable representations of how institutional knowledge and the society they enrich, intersect. The student in the digital age can be influenced and connected with higher education in many ways, most of which do not involve didactic instruction, formal
institutional structures, Socratic questioning and recall driven assessment. The student might experience a three-year undergraduate programme by taking courses and undertaking assessments on campus. Equally, higher education might be engaging with learning fleetingly through the tiniest fragments of knowledge necessary for their own, unique educational purposes. The student might sit in a classroom, meet their colleagues and build a network of faces, voices and names, or they might engage online, in and through social media, maybe never seeing, meeting or hearing their network of fellow students. They might learn by doing, touching and making objects and knowledge or they might learn through the crowd, where knowledge comes from collective intelligence and problem solving. These experiential variations are at the very heart of the need for pedagogical change at our institutions. Yet their implementation into teaching and learning strategies is often marked by the taking of dichotomous, heartily-defended positions in the ‘fight’ for the pedagogical direction of the institution: Traditional versus techno-centric. Student-led versus research informed. New versus old. Affordances versus Resistances. Technologies versus Pedagogies. Service versus Strategy.