May 19, 2015
It is the first time that the Academia experiences what it means to be the follower.
Until recently, students knew that what they learn in higher education could be useful in their future careers for decades. At that time, technology typically first appeared in the academic environment, then got adopted by the business world to finally spread to everyday life. Today, things we use for fun in our personal lives are just starting to be used in the business environment and education is still way behind.
How to be smart here?
The flip of this trend is not only true for technology but also for all related job roles and professions. Due to the extreme speed of evolution the business world already lacks professionals. For example, there is a huge gap in expertise related to Big Data, there are thousands of open job positions like Data Scientist or Chief Data Officer, but there is no suitable curriculum in the academic world yet, that matches the skill requirements of those positions. As a first reaction the enterprise world more or less bypasses the academic world – several big (and even many mid-sized) companies already have their own internal education departments building up in-house ‘Enterprise Academies’. I do not think I have to judge whether it is good or bad, but it’s sure that if we do not start closing the gap between education and the enterprise world, the risks we are taking are huge.
One way to close the gap and to bring the two worlds closer is to make education smarter. In other words we need to innovate both education content and delivery – like in Smart Universities.
A Smart University is interconnected and collaborates both on individual and global levels. It is also interactive with multidirectional communication and teaching channels, combining face-to-face, offline, on-line and automated approaches. Using intelligent technology facilitates learning processes of the mind like abstract thinking, understanding, reasoning, planning and conceptualizing and also enables the implementation of the latest results of education research.
In a Smart University, students’ development is continuously monitored. Deviations can be identified and an individual course correction can be recommended early where and when suitable, thus minimizing failures and dropout rates. The increased chances to succeed strengthens student motivation and improves the learning experience and outcomes.
Cloud in the classroom
A Smart University has to be instrumented with high-tech solutions everywhere from smart classrooms to offices, libraries, labs and campus by using technologies like the Cloud, complex Analytics, Social and Mobile platforms and the Internet of Things. For example, with cloud technology, education can have immediate access to the required amount of resources in order to run the necessary analysis. Cooperating universities could even share their resources by using an Academic Cloud solution in order to maximize efficiency and minimize costs. In this university of the future students need not be restricted to locations or bound by classroom schedules. The way they learn will be more personalized combining theory with practice and real life simulations. Student evaluation will not be based solely on their test scores (what usually reflects their sheer ability to recite concepts and terms), but also how they apply their acquired knowledge and the way they cooperate with others – exactly as they will need to behave in a real work environment. Teachers also have to adapt – they need to create new content, use new delivery tools and follow improved methodologies in a multipath course approach.
Transformations in education and new approaches are already represented with pioneering examples: Birmingham Metropolitan College partnered with IBM to create “Classroom in the Cloud”, North Carolina State University uses the Virtual Computing Lab, and many other institutions are also taking steps forward.
On 21-22 May, IBM Cloud Academy comes to Hungary – and to Europe, actually for the first time. The 3rd ICA Conference, hosted by the Budapest University for Technology and Economics will discuss the future of cloud in higher education. At the end of the day the academia and the business world have to get much closer and evolve together. The IBM Cloud Academy Conference represents such a cooperation that paves the way to the future of education. Nobody has to be a follower. Let’s get smarter together.