Adobe Digital Dialogue

October 30, 2017 /Digital Education /

Swinburne sets course for a digital future

As a work­force, we face unprece­dent­ed change. The com­bined forces of tech­nol­o­gy and cap­i­tal­ism have arguably led to the most rapid improve­ments in qual­i­ty of life, pros­per­i­ty and edu­ca­tion for more peo­ple than at any oth­er peri­od in his­to­ry.

At the same time, there is a lot of uncer­tain­ty. The nature of work is chang­ing for many, and change sur­rounds us in every sphere of life. In par­tic­u­lar the rapid progress in machine learn­ing and the poten­tial for automa­tion means there isn’t a great deal of time to reshape edu­ca­tion to meet the needs of a work­force in trans­for­ma­tion.

Many grad­u­ates are already tak­ing up work in areas for which they didn’t study, per­haps because their stud­ies turned out to be less rel­e­vant once they entered the job mar­ket. This her­alds a return to the idea of edu­ca­tion for train­ing the mind – study­ing clas­sics or his­to­ry has always been about how to cre­ate, posi­tion and devel­op an argu­ment.

So while strong tech­ni­cal foun­da­tions mat­ter, an implic­it, par­al­lel set of abil­i­ties is also required. These are less obvi­ous, but include self-aware­ness, resilience, empa­thy and adapt­abil­i­ty.

We need to make sure gen­er­alised uni­ver­si­ty cours­es address vital work­place skills in emo­tion­al intel­li­gence.

As automa­tion pro­gress­es, it will affect all fields to a greater or less­er extent. Already there is a web­site – willrobotstakemyjob.com – that offers an esti­mate of your like­li­hood of being replaced by tech­nol­o­gy. Of course its tone is tongue in cheek and it’s run by an algo­rithm, but it high­lights how tech­nolo­gies are emerg­ing in all dis­ci­plines. The hope is that aug­ment­ing human capa­bil­i­ties will result in more humans gain­ing more oppor­tu­ni­ties to do more of what humans do well – mak­ing induc­tive leaps, spot­ting unlike­ly con­nec­tions, and being less process bound and thus free to be more cre­ative.

How­ev­er, for all this promise, stu­dents enter­ing uni­ver­si­ty now to grad­u­ate in three-to-five years’ time need dif­fer­ent skills, dif­fer­ent cours­es and dif­fer­ent teach­ing now if they are to make suit­able choic­es and be pre­pared for a whole new kind of career. The chal­lenge for uni­ver­si­ties is to respond quick­ly enough to ensure rel­e­vance.

Swin­burne Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy in Mel­bourne is proac­tive­ly seek­ing to equip stu­dents with best-in-class Adobe tools used in indus­try through the new Grad­u­ate Cer­tifi­cate of Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Tech­nolo­gies. This is the first time Adobe course­ware has been accred­it­ed to a uni­ver­si­ty post-grad­u­ate course, allow­ing Swin­burne to embed both the­o­ry and prac­tice to make stu­dents more attrac­tive to poten­tial employ­ers. Swin­burne has tak­en this path with speed and cer­tain­ty, know­ing it will deliv­er the right out­comes for stu­dents. This agili­ty is a direct mir­ror of cor­po­rate best prac­tice, where trans­paren­cy and inclu­sive­ness have been found to be a cat­a­lyst for progress than longer phase approach­es.

Edu­ca­tion has tra­di­tion­al­ly tak­en longer term views of man­age­ment and deliv­ery of knowl­edge, in order to safe­guard its qual­i­ty and accu­ra­cy. With the rise of the inter­net and its unlim­it­ed con­nec­tiv­i­ty, knowl­edge is chang­ing to be more con­tem­po­rary. There­fore, cours­es must be reviewed and improved much more rapid­ly. Most uni­ver­si­ties recog­nise the need and have start­ed down this path, but more needs to be done – and quick­ly, if their offer­ings are to remain use­ful.

It’s obvi­ous too that life­long learn­ing mat­ters – adults need skills and stim­u­la­tion too. But employ­ers have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­vide time and space for staff to extend their knowl­edge. Per­haps free­ing up time to learn could be one of the div­i­dends of automa­tion.

Clos­er part­ner­ships between edu­ca­tion and indus­try make sense. Decou­pling edu­ca­tion from loca­tion to enable cer­ti­fi­ca­tion through work expe­ri­ence, and com­bin­ing course mate­r­i­al with in-house train­ing from employ­ers helps every­one.

It’s an excit­ing time to be in edu­ca­tion – more knowl­edge and more spe­cial­i­sa­tion is avail­able than ever before. And despite the chal­lenges, the poten­tial for stu­dents to have the most engag­ing, cre­ative and diverse careers has nev­er been bet­ter.

Digital Education

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