Design Thinking for a new Education Ecosystem
The development of educational programs, courses, workshops, learning arrangements, etc. have long been an invisible and mostly lonely part of the job of a professor, teacher, lecturer, trainer, learner. I have always wondered when, where, how and with what tools and methods educational programs are developed to reach a certain target group, level and quality. While running a business be it a university or a training agency there should be time allocated to professionalize and to get connected and informed of what is happening in the world and how does this impacts society, business, economy, humanity, etc. In the end it all boils down to what impact does this have on the universities and schools preparing the professionals of the future.
Before having a look at a new and more structured way of developing and executing educational programs let's first consider the following subjects:
We live in a VUCA world where the letters stand for:
- V = Volatile
- U = Uncertain
- C = Complex
- A = Ambiguous
Our world is becoming more complex, integrated without boundaries due to digitization, globalization, 24/7 connectivity. We live in a sharing and always ON society. Many see new opportunities and take advantage of these changes by starting their own business using the platforms and infrastructures already in place.
Does society change because of technology or does technology changes society? Well this is a tricky one. Either way we experience every day the impact of technology. Every sector feels the impact of so called exponential technologies such as:
- 3D printing
- Internet of Things
- Big Data
These technologies will have their applications in healthcare, automotive, medical, fashion, finance, etc. Technology will be the driving force to solve humanities global grand challenges. This will cause businesses to re-think or design their business models. and the quest for the best human capital with extraordinary skills like:
- problem solving
- critical thinking
So what does this mean for education? There should be something dramatically changing at the Universities and Schools to deliver the human capital of the future with the new skills and attitudes to survive in a VUCA world.
Flexibility through Personalization
Customer demand is increasing for better, sustainable and cheaper products, systems and processes. We are at a point that we have to pivot our strategy and change our mindset about how we can deliver professionals that will make a difference in our complex and dynamic world.
Talent development, creativity and entrepreneurship, big picture thinking, lean thinking, six sigma leadership, co-creation, collaboration, cross-industry innovation are all buzz words driving the change to new business, careers, jobs and functions. It is completely changing how businesses are organized and structured. It is changing the workplace and the way we work.
Universities and Schools on the other hand have to deal with strict quality regulations and protocols as well with ever decreasing budgets mostly from government. This kind of restricts or ties down the freedom to move for these organisations. The big question is: How can you innovate and experiment while keeping operations on the same or higher quality level? This sounds impossible but there are many ways to create so called Lean Startups within a large traditional organisation. It will never be easy but it is the only way to change the mindset and way of working from bottom-up.
All this calls for another approach of learning, organizing, structuring and delivering education to achieve actual, up to date and personalized educational programs where different learning paths are possible without jeopardizing the quality and level of the educational programs due to accreditation norms and protocols.
Embedding Design and Lean Thinking to develop new programs
The main key words here where we focus on are:
- Transformation (which is not an option)
- Unique, personalized experience (N = 1)
- Talent development
- Access to instead of ownership of (R = G)
- Value creation (Pull versus Push)
Some great sites where personalized learning creates value;
- Khan Academy