Going back to school in 2020: How technology is preparing uni students for IR4.0

This post is brought to you by INTI International University & Colleges.

Industrial Revolution 4.0 is expected to have an increasingly drastic effect on how the world works, which is evidenced by the development of drone deliveries, self-driving autonomous cars, and of course, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The last development, while interpreted as a positive development from a technological and business standpoint, has also been construed as a threat that will lead to a loss of jobs.

But that isn’t necessarily the case. Preparations to best equip Malaysians for IR4.0 have already begun, with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announcing during Budget 2020 that RM70 million will be allocated out of the federal budget towards developing Digital Enhancement Centres. 

At the heart of preparing the future generation of Malaysians to meet the demands of IR4.0 is, of course, education

In years past, the tried-and-trusted methods of the education system in Malaysia among both private and public institutions have been mainly centred around an examination-based approach which has roots in the “mugging” culture. But with the world quickly changing, certain institutions have been making strides towards evolving how we develop talents for the demands of the future workplace.

Leveraging off technology

We spoke to INTI International University & Colleges about how they’re using technology to tailor their approach towards students—along with an emphasis on providing value-added learning programmes to support a tech-driven future. Utilising a learning management software (LMS) called Blackboard, the team at INTI explains that many of the current teaching methods aren’t so suited to learners in today’s day and age.

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Blackboard provides students and faculty with a virtual learning environment, and is made up of course management, as well as learning and collaboration tools. However, the effectiveness of the LMS is still very much dependent upon how the tool is utilised. INTI explains that their approach focuses on leveraging technology and the Internet of Things—which today’s digital natives have grown up with—to build on those professional skills needed for the modern workplace: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem solving.

INTI’s methodology aims to cultivate a versatile, modern way of learning for students. Collaboration tools, for example, work in a similar way to Wikipedia—an open platform where students can contribute, learn, and work together to achieve certain goals. Students are also encouraged to use the platform to provide critical analysis for other students’ presentations, which is often an issue in traditional, physical classes.

To complement this further, the approach also incorporates the more traditional aspects of learning: examinations, live presentations, and regular assessments. But this “blended learning” approach is what sets them apart, INTI says. As an illustration: a lecturer posts learning content on Blackboard prior to a certain class, which students access and study independently. Students then participate in group activities while in the classroom, essentially moving the learning experience from a passive one to an active one—a “flip classroom”. Gamification and leaderboards also play a large part in the system, enabling students to progress through interactive “levels” that enhance their understanding rather than just teaching theories. 

And through it all, students (as well as lecturers) utilise technology tools such as iStudio, editing software, and Web 2.0 tools in general. This also ensures that students are comfortable using technology, and prepares them for careers where the majority of the corporate world are already digitising their entire systems. 

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Employability remains INTI’s unique proposition

An end-goal of INTI’s unique approach is to improve employability among their graduates. Despite a record number of straight A students in Malaysia, employability remains an issue for graduates. Addressing this, Bank Negara Malaysia’s Economics Department Director Mohd Fraziali Ismail explained that Malaysian graduates need to be up-skilled to be employable in various industries—something that INTI is working towards through a number of initiatives.

These include micro-credentialing, where additional training and certifications via professional courses for students are included as part of business, IT, and engineering programmes—this prepares students with industry-grade training, as well as industry certifications. INTI also offers extracurricular boot camps that are organised by global industry leaders such as Microsoft, Google, SAS, Oracle, and Automation Anywhere. 

Again, the focus of these initiatives is to provide students with those technological skills that are fast becoming a necessity for future graduates in all sectors—while also providing students with an environment that is reflective of actual workplaces.

Planning ahead

While many educational institutions have begun to use LMS platforms like Blackboard, INTI says that they’re ahead of the curve. That’s down to an understanding of how data gleaned from LMS platforms can be used to better plan a student’s education journey, and INTI says that they have been developing their own approach with Blackboard for close to 5 years now. 

This investment has been recognised by Blackboard, with INTI being named among the global Blackboard Catalyst award winners for three consecutive years for Professional Development, Leading Change, and Student Success, and they’ve continued to take steps to customise the platform to their needs. A key point, according to the folks over at INTI, is that blended learning gives educators a better understanding of how their students are faring through real-time analytics, that has led to early intervention and improved student outcomes. 

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With IR 4.0 shifting jobs from task-based roles to human-centric competencies, INTI’s commitment to reinventing education aims to future-proof students and empower them with the experiences and skills that will enable them to thrive in tomorrow’s digital workplace.

To find out more about INTI’s programmes and courses, click here.