As the education sector booms, universities are being forced to think ever-further outside the box to attract the best students. Courses that are not flexible, personal or relevant to the ongoing digitalisation of jobs and workplaces are simply being left behind. New demands from students about the way courses are taught, as well as their content, are making the industry more competitive than ever.
The market is widening, with a new demographic of potential students looking to continue their lifelong learning and keep abreast of ongoing technological advances. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, 65% of today’s primary school students will be doing jobs that don’t yet exist when they graduate. From this perspective, acquiring new skills is important, not only for young people but for those wishing to remain competitive in their industry and grow in their professional life. New technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) – are resources that must be at people’s disposal to empower everybody with new capabilities.
For MIP Politecnico di Milano, based in the fashion district of Milan, using these new tools are important for both our school and our students. That’s why we have launched FLEXA, an AI learning platform which acts as a career coach for potential students, current cohorts and alumni networks. Developed in partnership with Microsoft, FLEXA analyses each individual and suggests personalised materials to close skills gaps whilst promoting their profiles to recruiters.
So how does it work? To begin, users undergo a short assessment of their hard, digital and soft skills. This, combined with details of their career aspirations, helps to identify courses, tutorials, digital material, MOOCs and the best mentors and coaches to help to bridge any skills gaps. This data is set against job skills required by the market and allows a number of top recruiters to easily access the profiles of students and alumni as they grow. The platform uses Microsoft’s cloud service and AI platform, Cortana Intelligence.
“Advances in technology mean that the traditional education framework will soon become an anachronism. The best people in each field are becoming aware that they must keep up with these advances and know how to use them to get ahead.”
The key benefit of this digital learning ecosystem is that it allows students to personalise their learning journey, which is of increasing importance for those selecting which MBA or Master’s to undertake. The changing role of business schools in particular means that they must now curate knowledge and broker content to deliver to students and alumni at exactly the right time for them and their careers. Management education is becoming less about imparting ‘know-how ’and more about ‘know-where’, i.e. the critical ability to source knowledge from different mediums. FLEXA is designed to do just that.
Flexible learning, with the student at the core of the program, is part of the school’s ethos. FLEXA follows the launch of our Flex and International Flex Executive MBAs, which allow participants to decide where and how to access their lesson material from anywhere in the world and with any device. This means that their learning fits round other commitments, be they work, family or recreational, and is part of the school’s wider digital strategy to use tech to enhance learning capabilities.
The resources students and alumni will acquire through FLEXA, both online and in the classroom, will offer more autonomy over improving their skillsets. In this way, their learning becomes deeply personal, and those who really engage will be rewarded by increased exposure to potential recruiters. Not only this, the platform addresses the industry-wide challenge of meaningfully engaging alumni, who are also able to take advantage of FLEXA in continuing their lifelong education.
Advances in technology mean that the traditional education framework will soon become an anachronism. The best people in each field are becoming aware that they must keep up with these advances and know how to use them to get ahead. If universities – and, specifically, business schools – don’t innovate and cater to this growing demographic of people, they are likely to see potential students applying elsewhere. By not taking advantage of the new technologies available to them, universities are not arming current – or future – generations of business minds with the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed.
Federico Frattini is Associate Dean of Digital Transformation at MIP Politecnico di Milano.