US experts promote class action

Technology disruption is not only affecting the way we learn but the workplaces of the future, say visiting academics from The Fox School of Business in the US.

Associate Professor TL (Theodore) Hill and Michelle Histand, who have been working with the new Innovation and Enterprise (I and E) courses at Flinders University, say ‘experiential’ classes and lessons in developing innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurial skills are being developed around the world to shape a new era of university learning.

They say US higher education institutions are having to make radical changes to the challenge of meeting employer and students expectations about the value, cost and outcomes of university education.

“So far the Fox School (in Philadelphia) has moved aggressively into online education and worked hard to lift rankings and tuition and work placement rates,” Associate Professor Hill said at Flinders. “We have redesigned our postgraduate programs and are working on doing the same at the undergraduate level to be competency-led, with competencies defined through interviews with and surveys of employers.

“Also in close collaboration with industry we’ve shifted increasingly towards experiential education to deliver the competencies in STEM and communication capabilities – and to differentiate from what’s possible online.”

Temple University’s Fox School of Business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is located in a city which is facing many of the changes facing South Australia, fellow lecturer Ms Histand says.

“In the past ten years, Temple has transformed from a commuter to a residential university with more than half of its nearly 40,000 students living on or quite close to campus. This has had a huge and visible effect on the neighborhood,” she says.

In Adelaide, she says the transformation seems much more intentional, with active government and university involvement, especially at Flinders.

“In fact, it is a rare and wonderful thing to see such alignment of interests: State government pushing and supporting transformation to a more entrepreneurial ecosystem; Flinders making this transformation of both students and the region central to its strategy; and concrete investments in outreach and education through the likes of Flinders New Venture Institute.”

Flinders University New Venture Institute Associate Professor of Practice, Margaret Ledwith, together with senior lecturer in Innovation and Enterprise at Flinders, Bert Verhoeven, say the new Flinders courses – along with a range of other industry projects and collaborations – are focusing on “incorporating global best practice in experiential and innovative education”.

With input from the Fox School of Business, Associate Professor Ledwith says Flinders is also using a new roadmap tool in South Australia to track and develop students’ I and E skills and competencies, which have been identified in consultation with a wide range of business leaders in Adelaide as critical to individual and organisational performance and success.

“By incorporating global best-practice in innovation and entrepreneurship education, coupled with an experiential and innovative approach to learning, we aim to completely change students’  learning experience, engagement and outcomes for the better.

“We’re aiming for the courses to be hands-on, challenge-led and fun, with active engagement with industry through student projects, internships and placements, PhD sponsorships and consulting and advisory projects,” she says.

This month, the Flinders New Venture Institute has taken the fifth group of South Australian start-ups to San Francisco, Austin and New York in the USA to promote business development in the State.

The companies involved include Edge VR, Soulful Kids, Warm ‘n’ Ready, Quuee, Squeekypeas, Venyu, Benny Button (Amelie.ai), City ReCycle, Makers Empire, GoGo Events, Workforce Blueprint and Made in Katana.

Meanwhile, a new report from Universities Australia has found that about 85% of 685 Australian startup founders had a university qualification while 5.8% of entrepreneurs involved in the startups involved in the survey had a vocational qualification as their highest level of qualification and 9.8 per cent had only finished high school.

“Start-ups are projected to create more than half a million jobs over the coming decades and are already contributing more than $160 billion to the Australian economy,” said Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson. “This report confirms universities are the key ingredient in this promising part of our economy.”

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