Robot-proof: Higher Education in the Age of Intelligence

By Joseph E. Aoun

Technology forever marches forward. In the 21st century, the speed of advancement seems to constantly increase. We live in a world where cars can drive themselves and customers are purchasing goods and services using digital currency not backed by any government. Companies have been making significant alterations their business models in manners completely unconceivable 30 years ago in order to remain relevant and competitive. Post-secondary institutions are not immune from making changes. In order to deliver an education that will be valuable and useful to graduates, post-secondary institutions need to adapt their pedagogy and curriculum.

Key Takeaways

  • To produce graduates with the skills to succeed in the 21st century, universities need to focus on addressing the Three New Literacies:
    1. Data Literacy: the ability to find, manipulate, analyze, and draw conclusions from massive volumes of data.
    2. Technology Literacy: expertise in foundational science and applied engineering, including coding, mathematics, and electronics.
    3. Human Literacy: capacity to interact with and inspire other humans, such as communication, leadership, and creativity.
  • Post-secondaries also need to build the Cognitive Capacities of their students to apply the New Literacies in context:
    1. Critical Thinking: evaluating information from multiple perspectives, seeking more detailed information, and making decisions after careful analysis.
    2. Systems Thinking: understanding complex systems through analysis of its subsystems, and how they interact with other complex systems.
    3. Entrepreneurship: creating new companies or new ways to bring value to existing companies, and creating jobs that do not already exist.
    4. Cultural Agility: enabling professionals to perform successfully in cross-cultural situations
  • To gain cultural agility and education in niche areas, students need to experience learning in a global context. Multi-versity networks, collections of federated post-secondaries, create unique learning experiences for students.
    • Students, and faculty can openly flow between members of their networks, participating in customized learning and research that takes advantage of the location, culture, and expertise of individuals schools.
  • Post-secondaries cannot rely on instruction along and should seek to integrate real-world experiences into the learning, known as work-integrated learning. Examples include:
    1. Co-operative work programs
    2. Internships/practicums
    3. Capstone projects
  • Learning opportunities should not only be available in full-time four-year degree or two-year diploma programs. Post-secondaries need to create life-long learning options that are appropriate and convenient for learners in all stages of life. This can be accomplished by creating highly personalized programs consisting of modular courses available through multiple delivery channels.

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