The campuses world over and India in particular, need to change their way of working to universally teaching at least the basic information technology skills, be sensitive to the harmful effects of needless commuting, adopt circular economic models in industry and urge governments to change their ways and help build a future based on technology that helps and not harms. Under these circumstances Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) may face the existential crisis if they are not agile to transform themselves from bottom up using peer learning and benchmarking of best practices through accreditation and adopting principles of ethics being advocated by institutions like PRME, besides being sensitive to external issues raised by the United Nations Global Compact’s Sustainable Development Goals. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning based on Big data, data mining, Internet of Things, Fintech based on block chain, Virtual and augmented reality, 3 D printing, online learning platforms, e-commerce, medical technologies all of which are fundamentally changing the way we do our businesses and conduct our lives. The profile of the top ten companies and their founders show that first, almost all of them are based on knowledge and not natural resource dependent and founded & run by a set of first generation technologically savvy entrepreneurs.
Clearly none can predict what the future holds at this point of time in a world marked by VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity”) and RUPT (Rapid, Unpresented, Paradoxical, Tangled). Staying Agile and Resilient is one way for HEIs to overcome the challenges and be part of the future.
For any HEI, the outcomes are important than outputs. The alignment of non-teaching staff to teaching staff, confluence of people, process and technology to digitization is must. The value has to be generated even outside the classroom. So the digital dashboards, data driven decision making, the true value of teaching and learning via cognitive assessments play more vital roles in learning process in HEIs. The HEIs should use tech-tools for outside class analysis of participants; there is huge opportunity here from learning side as well as from the operations side. All academic compliances should be digital in nature in HEIs, for proper IT governance policies. Records, insights, engagement, and intelligence building. Going forward, the research should be action based and not just PhD programs. Such programs should be realistic and industry sponsored. The HEIs should agile w.r.t to usage of AI and RPAs in their processes. These technologies are not an exclusive domain, but almost all the segments of businesses are going to be dependent on one form or the other of digital intervention. Hence the HEIs should be willing and able to connect this sort of future. Yes, the Covid period in fact helped the campuses themselves adopt digital tools for their normal working. There are enough and more data on how the education sector almost completely transformed itself bottom up to adopt technology tools in teaching, learning and assessment. But the question is, do the HEIs have the capacity building capabilities for imparting the same? HEIs need to collaborate with liked minded organizations for mutually beneficial models. At a time, where foreign educational institutions are willing to set up campuses or do co-branding activities, HEIs must be open for innovation.
In the Indian context most management schools report more than 80 per cent of their student cohort come with technical background, their own grounding in information sciences may be limited even though they may possess analytical mind-set to absorb any technical teaching that may be provided at the campus. There is a need to bridge their knowledge gap to bring about homogeneity in the classroom. Many faculty still struggle to reach subjects of advance AI, Big data strategic mathematical simulations, machine learning approaches and methods.
Elite institutions relying on reputational quality and rankings will likely weather the storm better than undifferentiated offerings from under-resourced schools. Many elite HEIs do not increase the scale fearing the quality loss. Those elite institutions, however, are small compared to others. Despite the limited enrollments of the elite schools, many non-elite institutions unwisely divert enormous resources into chasing university rankings.
Micro-credentials are perhaps the greatest existential threat to today‘s cornucopia of academic degrees. There is an absolute dearth of individual creativity, authenticity, wr.t culture in HEI. HEIs squander crores to create content that generates engagement and interest. Getting accreditation, rankings and being in eminence position is always a lofty goal, but, if all clamour for just the same things repeatedly, then innovation will be zero. It would be great, if each HEIs would really develop one key and niche area of excellence. Some many include Sananati-sastra-saastra to digital leadership, Indian ancient culture and management, New Age Ethics, Philosophy of outcome based education, Neuroscience, original Indian anthropological values etc . It promotes fertile, receptive mind that nurtures bold ideas and an independent spirit. Moreover, and more importantly, if HEIs should promote innovation to shake up things within and create classes that spark an idea, that generate a debate, that lead to innovation. HEIs discussions cannot be complete without research. The original basic purpose of research papers, citations, publications is overlooked. It’s all becoming the number games due to rankings, promotions and accreditation. Very few elite HEIs get funds from private bodies, business houses and government. The business houses should come across it actual domain problems and hand over to HEIs as PhDs. Action based research need to be promoted. HEIs should look into various NGOs, sustainable research institutions, start-ups, social entrepreneurs, business houses, government, and other institutions for problem solving means and white papers, monographs, and handbooks need to be published. There must always be a confluence of copious flow of knowledge and skills in HEIs.
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