The pressure on universities to prepare students with the right skills for the world of work is at an all-time high. The Government's industrial strategy whitepaper, published in November 2017, highlighted the need for educators to raise skill levels in lagging areas to ensure people and businesses thrive in the modern economy. The report shone the spotlight on the lack of STEM skills, with a commitment to invest an additional £406 million in maths, digital and technical education to help to address the shortage. For universities offering business and STEM courses, there is a strong focus on ensuring both the curriculum and classroom activity nurture those vital workplace skills for students.
One important area for universities is the teaching of specific business processes to students. Across many industries, from IT and engineering, to product design and manufacturing, tried and tested processes such as Agile and Lean are now widely used. These practices have been incorporated into the relevant STEM and business-based university courses and are a key focus of their evolving curriculums. So with an increased pressure on universities to instil the theoretical and practical elements of these proven business processes, is there a solution to ease the burden and enhance the way the topics are taught?
For any of these widely-used processes, whether it is Agile, Scrum, Lean, Six Sygma or Kanban, it is about creating an environment that is fluid, flexible and productive. That may be simple to achieve in a workplace, however, in a university setting, it can be a bigger challenge. The workspace for students should encourage collaboration, inspiration, teamwork and creativity. What is key is introducing the right technology to nurture students' skills and support the teaching methods.
When working through modules such as Agile and Lean, educators have to track the process from end to end, while enabling collaboration and engagement. Despite the forward-thinking nature of the methodologies, many universities still use whiteboards and post it notes for students to iterate and track their progress. This is where technology can really make a difference.
The Nureva Span visual collaboration system is an ideal technological platform to improve the teaching of business processes. The Span system was designed specifically for this type of collaboration activity and works by transforming walls into large, ultra-wide interactive surfaces that display an expansive digital canvas. Students can visualise and interact with information on the canvas and also contribute content and ideas for their computer, tablet or smartphone.
When teaching business processes, educators frequently rely on large workspaces with lots of pieces of written information. This solution reduces the need for multiple spaces to be dedicated to specific projects, as all activity takes place in one interactive area. One of the major benefits is it doesn't require an overhaul of either the classroom or the curriculum. The solution will integrate easily into to existing university set up, it simply digitises the familiar paper-based tools that are currently used to work through the business processes. Span's digital canvas retains the flexibility that paper-based systems offer while overcoming many of the deficiencies.
Using technology to learn and experience real-life business processes will give students some of the vital skills needed to thrive in the workplace and support university tutors teaching those topics. It's one solution that could help to close the technical skills gap and create a stronger workforce for the future.