As a parent, I ask myself this very question…if I could influence change which could impact my own daughter’s future experience of Higher Education, what would I deem to be essential? What experiences could help provide a smoother transition into the labour market and help her become adaptable and resilient in today’s ever changing, global economy? Also bearing in mind the speed of digitalisation developments and how this will further impact and change teaching and learning environments and the future job market. Using both my parental and professional head as an Enterprise Educator, a lot of my thoughts and views filtered down into the following areas; interdisciplinary curricular enterprise encouraging transformation not just transition and digital transformation and innovation.
More interdisciplinary Curricular Enterprise Coherence:
My role as an Enterprise Educator focuses on curricular development, working with academics and external partners to provide credit bearing modules linked to thematic enterprise skills e.g. the confidence to be able to take calculated risks, approach problems using creativity and innovation to find a solution whilst also developing skills to become adaptable and resilient to change; 21st century skills employers of all shapes and sizes are expecting our graduates to have according to the World Economic Forum (2016).
There is a lot of research linked to design learning, which I feel is very closely linked to curricular enterprise. It focusses on problem finding and problem framing through convergent and divergent methods, rather than simply problem solving. The design thinking then introduces methods of problem finding and problem framing in the pursuit of emergent innovation. This is a method used within curricular enterprise linked to creativity and innovation in solving problems.
Embedding these skills into the curriculum is crucial, and at its most effective when we are providing experiential learning opportunities for our students, enabling college wide, interdisciplinary teaching opportunities so that students can not only recognise the importance of working in groups across a broad scope of specialisms, but so they can articulate how that experience has further developed their own teaching and learning experience.
College-wide interdisciplinary enterprise modules offer an amazing opportunity for students to explore a major topic which connects courses and disciplines whilst exploring key themes. Having a range of modules available across all 5 colleges would enable students to learn from one another whilst working with industry and/or on economic/governmental strategies and agendas that could have societal and civic engagement impact. I really like the notion of research into action, the learning whilst doing approach that encourages our students to become knowledge harvesters not simply knowledge retainers.
This curricular approach provides cross-disciplinary thinking whilst developing a range of softer skills e.g. working within a team, communication skills, influencing others, effective decision making and so forth. Challenges potentially facing this style of curriculum development could be linked to staffing resource and managing the introduction of new assessment methods. However, once piloted with a robust module blue print, this curricular development could be something innovative and flag ship for the University whilst taking students teaching and learning experience to a whole new level.
Digital transformation and innovation:
Digitalisation is growing at a speed I am still trying to get my head around. Research predicts that one-third of all jobs will be converted into software, robots, and smart machines by as early as 2025. In addition to this, according to Futurists, students will be able to learn from robots in just 14 years’ time! How do we keep up to date with this as an institution? Artificial Intelligence is happening, how can we adopt this into our curriculums effectively and confidently?
Can we form additional partnerships with key organisations to come into our curriculum and work with our students? IBM Watson is an organisation currently developing Watson-powered robots, making advancements in clinical imaging and producing interactive translating white boards – with how quickly technology is advancing, wouldn’t it be an amazing opportunity for our students to be able to work with market leaders applying their theory into practise? Two days ago Government announced there will be funding of £17.3m for artificial intelligence and robotics research to be carried out by British universities as part of the new digital strategy. I feel we could 100% bring this into the curriculum for our students to develop research into action skills….where do we sign up I say?
An additional range of staff training on digital innovations would be really useful to encourage more use of IT in the classroom and during assessment. As an institution could we identify projects which could be worked on by our very own students by bringing IT developments into the curriculum? One thought could be around the development of mobile apps perhaps – we are constantly thinking of ways of working SMARTER, could our students work interdisciplinary across Colleges to develop something as part of a module?
An interesting article by Kurshan (2016) ‘The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Education refers to Woolfe et al (2013) artificial intelligence grand challenges felt education should be addressing:
- Virtual mentors for every learner: Omnipresent support that integrates user modeling, social simulation and knowledge representation.
- Addressing 21st century skills: Assist learners with self-direction, self-assessment, teamwork and more.
- Analysis of interaction data: Bring together the vast amounts of data about individual learning, social contexts, learning contexts and personal interests.
- Provide opportunities for global classrooms: Increase the interconnectedness and accessibility of classrooms worldwide.
- Lifelong and lifewide technologies: Taking learning outside of the classroom and into the learner’s life outside of school.
I certainly wouldn’t like the thought of my daughter entering Higher Education in 8 years’ time to be taught solely by robots (not that I think that would happen entirely), but I do think that the right balance of research, industry experience, innovative interdisciplinary enterprise pedagogy and the use of advanced technologies will provide enriched, innovative and exciting experiences for our future generations of students.