Ed-tech & Leadership, Education Technology, Professional Learning, Wiley India

Re-imagining Universities Post Covid Era

The unprecedented events within the current past have put education in limelight like never. The paradigm shift towards online learning requires re-imagining of Universities and educational institutions to accompany technological disruption. There is a need for new learning methods, adaptive learner experience as well as identifying new revenue fashions to fund innovation and enlargement in those areas, to equip future personnel for Enterprise 4.0.4.

The university model has remained invariably same over the years; operating as a well-regulated institution, with a structured and consistent approach towards curriculum development and pedagogy, academics, and overall governance. As we have entered the fourth industrial revolution, it is time for universities to leave the archaic framework behind and ushered in one that’s integrated and inclusive. This calls for curriculum transformation and collaborative partnerships to meet the demands of a technologically inclined society as well as learners.

How the emerging landscape will shape University 4.0?

To become the key enablers for fostering new-age skills for Industry 4.0, Universities need to don their 4.0 avatar and move from functioning as a trust to operating as an enterprise. The transpiring ecosystem provides universities with an opportunity to streamline education as a service, keeping learners at the fulcrum. This necessarily means universities would require moving from a standard one-size-fits-all and allow students to drive the kind of degrees and learning experience they are looking for.  

How can universities create an enterprise like model?

The answer lies in implementing learning models enabled by digital technology and synergic industry collaborations.

Re-thinking offerings: For an enterprise, the essence of customer gratification is the ultimate value delivered. In an era where offerings are customized and bundled per user reference, how can career development be devoid of choices? Universities of the future must not only integrate and offer learners the choice of creating ‘tailor-made’ programs but also the environment to deliver it. Offer Nano or micro degrees which not only deliver individual value but when combined create a robust learning system. A learner must have a plethora of options to select nano-degrees as appropriate to unlock a degree. This can enable learners to select the programs they prefer, to design one or several customized degrees.  Besides, the stackable nano-degree models can be an enticing resource for professional learners for continuous upskilling or gig workers who aim to expand their skills on the go.

Collaborative model: Universities cannot work in silos and strive on content alone.  The delivery and acknowledgement of content by industry must be equally effective. It is widely accepted that learning experiences of today need to leverage technology and data extensively to enable multi-modal learning. Agility and adaptability will become the make or break factor.  Corporates are incessantly striving for innovation to gain a competitive edge. The industry-academia partnership can also be further strengthened if universities can collaborate with corporates to co-create centres of research excellence with an aim to solve common problems, creating more IPs, and overall a win-win situation at both ends.

This collaboration can be built rapidly with a bridge education solution where the new age workforce that emerges out of the eco-system has widespread industry acceptability. With 1 billion of the 3.3 billion people who are employed today needing  to  be  upskilled  globally,  there  is  a  huge need and potential in bridge education for those who are looking for their first jobs (education to job bridge) and for those who are looking for better jobs (job to job bridge). Through bridge education, university partners have been able to attract better quality students, deliver skills in demand by Industry 4.0 with day 1 job-readiness and demarcate their geographical reach by leveraging technology to scale. This also allows innovation in strength areas to be driven by having the potential to charge premium fees for personalised learning paths and specialized credentials.  The proximity to industry context is the most critical element of this machinery. This model assists universities in shortening the lag time required to adapt curriculums, conduct assessments with individualized data and insights and deliver micro credentials relevant to a personalized career specification.

Applied Research with Corporates: For years, Universities have been the hub for research and innovation. However, research output is heavily dependent on external grants and funding. The funding has been a barrier to the volume of research output unless it is driven by government mandate. However, corporates are constantly pushed for the latest innovation and finding a new competitive edge, which demands continuous research.  If universities can collaborate with corporates to co-create Centers of Research Excellence with a goal to solve the common problems, it will create a win-win situation at both ends.
The future of learning and research is poised for massive change.  To retain their significance and enhance the value universities will be required to adopt strategies that drive successful enterprise in the digital era.

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