Today, with technology having permeated every sphere of our lives, the educational ecosystem is now taking cognisance of the compelling need to design a curriculum that makes students proficient in providing digitally enabled business solutions. Digital literacy is more than just computer proficiency. It also involves critical thinking skills and the ability to connect and communicate. So, how can higher education institutions integrate digital creativity into the academic curriculum? This requires the conscious weaving of the following four aspects into the curriculum.
Though Computer Science has always been a popular stream, today, universities are embedding analytics-related courses in non-tech programmes such as Management and Commerce. Progressive specialisations in Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence are not merely restricted to Computer Science students now. These technological perspectives are being embraced by other students to increase efficiency. Capstone projects like automating business processes using Blockchain and interdisciplinary courses and projects such as Drones for Delivery, Metaverse, and Integrated Financial Networks are being added to programme structures for the Law, Management, and Humanities to help students gain diverse perspectives.
Creativity, Innovation and an Entrepreneurial Thinking
Designing credit courses such as Accelerating Creativity and Innovation or Creative Thinking in the curriculum of different disciplines helps develop essential skills. Offering capsules on Growth Mindset vis-à-vis a Fixed mindset and Disruptive Innovation trains students to think out-of-the-box and helps ignite their imagination and promote entrepreneurial mindsets. This leads to enhanced customer focus and augmented business efficiencies.
Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
As the new world is unfolding, there is an increasing requirement for thinkers than doers. While most of the routine, repetitive jobs will be taken over by robot assistants, the humans will be expected to connect the dots and understand the story behind the data for strategic decision-making. And this will increasingly require employees with very high cognitive skills. Courses like Data Visualisation, Story Telling and Presentation skills, Case Analysis etc. are now becoming core courses in the curriculum to formally train the students on these cognitive skills, unlike in the past when such courses were offered only as electives. Not just the data descriptive courses, but predictive analytics courses like Analysis and Mitigation of Risk, Creative Problem Solving and Consulting, Critical Reasoning, and handling Black Swan events, are becoming an integral part of the curriculum.
Connect and Communicate
Last but not least is the ability to connect with people on digital platforms, understand their digital habits, and be empathic to their feelings so that one can reach out with the right product offering. The ‘feel’ and ‘express’ elements in education to formally prepare students for the digital world involves designing courses such as Emotional Intelligence and Personal Effectiveness, Creative Writing, Content Writing, and Behavioural Finance among others.
The right pedagogies are imperative in achieving the desired outcomes. Progressive universities are using more simulation- and project-based problem-solving approaches that not only train students for the immersive digital world but also make learning functional rather than declarative. The industry is also becoming an integral part of both designing the curriculum and imparting knowledge to the students. Thus, the curriculum is set to change the definition from a ‘Disruptive VUCA’ (Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous) world to a ‘Creative VUCA’ (Visualising Unbounded Creativity and Application) world.
The writer is the Dean, School of Management, BML Munjal University.