Sat, Nov 27, 2021

Post-Pandemic Higher Education Reimagined


  • 08/15/2021 - by Dr Beata Froehlich, LLM. & Dr Ming-Jin Jiang

The pandemic has elevated the challenges of higher education and accelerated the need for a transformation. Covid-19 with a light-speed rendered online learning a necessity. Distance learning exposed technology’s potential to support new models for delivering higher education and better serving students and society. As Lawless and Pellegrino (2007: 576) noted before, “the potential value of technology as a tool for teaching and learning has not gone unnoticed by major actors in education.” The tech-enabled real-time delivery model has a potential to be more affordable. Hooper and Rieber (1995: 9) rightfully stated that the technology is advantageous for “increasing the durability of instruction.”

Higher education will evolve from short-term degree environments to education centers for a lifetime, providing augmented skills and competencies during one’s entire contemporary professional career in the digital age. The programs will be tailored to obtain the required experience for specific roles and functions. Higher education will have to provide practical and soft skills, cultural awareness, and doctrinal knowledge. Students will have become acquainted with a more global perspective and will adapt to the fast pace, complexity, and mindset of digital business (COHEN, 2008). It is evident that, just as  Lawless and Pellegrino (2012: 580) stated, “technological literacy has fast become one of the basic skills of teaching.” Students will have to embrace challenges, provide solutions, and adhere to a customer-first mindset. For instance, for a majority of legal graduates, law will become a skill, not a practice due to the fact that the practice of law is shrinking and the business of delivering legal services is expanding. Higher education will not follow a “one size fits all” approach to learning.  Sophisticated digital learning management systems will enable leading scholars, thought leaders, and practitioners to deliver a personalised learning approach where student diversity, performance, behavior, and career objectives are taken into account. Apart from the physical classroom, teaching methods rely heavily on flipped classrooms, personalised adaptive learning, and interactive digital platforms to enhance and obviate the need for costly physical structures (COHEN, 2008). As Tur and Marin (2015) rightfully noted, it should be properly embedded in the learning process in order not to be seen as an "add on" or something "additional" to the core learning. Contact higher education should incorporate innovation, creativity in teaching and knowledge consumption and apply multiple blended teaching delivery modes.

The Art of The Possible: Covid-19 is a Black Swan Opportunity to Reinvent Higher Education.

Socrates: “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”  The global marketplace grows increasingly sophisticated and thus, professionals strive to gain a diverse skillset, allowing them to thrive in rapidly-evolving environments. Higher education should teach students how to think critically and be ready to face the competitive job market. This is important, if one considers that a child born today will live to be more than 100 years old. Does it mean he/she will work until they reach their 80s? Higher education should teach students how to plan for their future and the future of their family. An average student will have at least five jobs over the course of his/her working life. Thus, higher education should strive to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to be ready for all the changes awaiting them.

For instance, to train a student to think like a lawyer is not a static concept, nor it is limited to critical thinking or doctrinal law. Legal higher education would have to teach how to think from both the lawyer and the client perspective. Business oriented lawyers should assess risk holistically, not through a narrow legal lens; and satisfy the objectives of the client, not produce the best possible legal product regardless of its relevance or client value. Thinking like a lawyer is not as important as learning how to drive impactful, timely, responsive, cost-effective, data-backed, holistic risk-assessed, actionable counsel to clients (COHEN, 2008).

Higher legal education will have to incorporate “soft skills” such as collaboration, empathy, cultural awareness, client management, and customer service in a diverse, global, and multidisciplinary market.

As the pandemic pushes more higher education activities online, national borders seem less relevant and the process of globalisation is accelerating. 

This globalization process has led both countries and people to become more interconnected. From the perspective of the legal profession, this globalization has demanded the creation of a new profile of lawyers: the “global lawyer,” that is, a lawyer exposed to international transactions and, therefore, to different laws and legal systems, institutions, cultures, languages and societies. [. . . ]  A global lawyer must first be a “global person,” that is, a person with a positive, respectful and open mind, always willing to learn from other people, cultures and societies. Every country should be treated equally; every culture should be equally respected; every person should be equally listened to. Second, a global lawyer of the 21st century must be familiar with technologies, since these can not only create efficiencies in the workplace, but are one of the main sources of interconnection – and therefore globalization – among people, companies, information, and markets. Third, global lawyers – especially in the field of business law or international transactions – should manage other disciplines particularly relevant for the law of business organizations, such as economics, accounting, and finance.[1]

And thus, higher education should equip students with the necessary skills to help them pursue their dream career. Post pandemic legal higher education will have to take into consideration student health and well-being. Soft skills – resilience, flexibility and capacity for leadership should be some of the key graduate attributes.

On-Campus Higher Education Is Here to Stay, Even After the Pandemic

Universities are one of the oldest continuously operating institutions in the world (Lee, 2021). Higher education is not an App and the Covid-19 pandemic will not drive away the need for a university campus. Students should benefit from a global learning environment and top-tier networking opportunities. The personal interaction is inevitable when a university wants students to be educated, not trained.  The process of higher education occurs best when humans educate humans directly.

COVID-19 has presented both challenges and opportunities for a transformation that many within and outside the higher education sphere have been waiting for. Educational institutions “exist to integrate and transform micro-specialised competencies into complex services that are demanded in the marketplace” (Lusch et al. 2007, p. 7).  Global competition in the higher education landscape ensures that a university is not merely about textbook learning or a didactic exchange. Universities have to adapt and offer student support, taking on a student-centred approach to teaching and learning. Professors have to emphasize personalised and interactive learning, to use the responsive classroom approach.  In higher education students should be allowed to play an active role in their education, enabling them to think more critically, creatively, and develop their leadership skills. Lecturers need to recognize the importance of connectedness and embed a “can do” approach to teaching. Within a higher education context, the “application of specialised skills and knowledge is the fundamental unit of exchange,” building the fundaments for their differentiation and competitive advantage (Lusch et al. 2007, p. 7).

The pandemic has demonstrated a renewed appreciation for classroom learning.  The university is about the holistic experience of life on campus, making lifelong friends, communicating effectively with people from diverse parts of the world. The network of interactions is the cornerstone of higher education and the value it offers (Barile et al. 2016). On-campus experience is about valuable life lessons of adaptability and sociability that form the key to higher education. Higher education has never been more important and universities should provide a world-class education. We have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that higher education continues to spur innovation and economic growth and give students a chance to succeed in their careers.

Dr Beata Froehlich, LLM.
Dean of Marbella International University Centre.
Spain.

Dr Ming-Jin Jiang.
Course Leader at Marbella International University Centre.

  

References

Barile, S., Lusch, R., Reynoso, J., Saviano, M., & Spohrer, J. (2016). “Systems, networks, and ecosystems in service research.” Journal of Service Management.

Cohen, Mark A (2020) Post-Pandemic Legal Education. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markcohen1/2020/08/13/post-pandemic-legal-education/?sh=7592628675d2. [Accessed: 21 st July, 2021]

Hooper, S., and Rieber, L. P (1995). “Teaching with technology.” In A. C. Ornstein (Ed.), Teaching: Theory into practice, 154-177

J. Lee and S. H. Han (eds.), “The Future of Service Post-COVID-19 Pandemic,” Volume 1, The ICT and Evolution of Work.

Lawless, K and Pellegrino, J (2007) “Professional development in integrating technology into teaching and learning: Knowns, Unknowns, and ways to pursue better questions and answers” in Review of Educational Research, 77

Lusch, R. F., Vargo, S. L., & O’Brien, M. (2007). “Competing through service: Insights from service-dominant logic.” Journal of Retailing, 83(1), 5–18.

Tur, G. and Marin, V. (2015) “Enhancing learning with the social media: student teachers' perceptions on Twitter in a debate activity,” in New Approaches in Educational Research, 4:7 

Dr Beata Froehlich, LLM

Dean of Marbella International University Centre

Beata is a Dean of Marbella International University Center. She serves as a Model leader of the LLM programme (International, Foreign and Comparative Law) at Centro de Estudios Garrigues in Madrid with the collaboration of Fordham Law School. She was a visiting scholar at Columbia Law School, where Professor Bermann was serving as her official sponsor. She was also a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University (Canada) under the supervision of Professor Andrea Bjorklund.

Beata obtained her PhD and LL.M. from Vilnius University. She was awarded an LL.M. in Commercial Law from University College London (UCL). Beata has participated in an exchange program at Vrije Universiteit in Brussels where she studied EU and International Law. Beata has been awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in EU Competition Law from King's College, London University, and a Practice Diploma in International Joint Ventures from the College of Law of England and Wales.

Beata was the recipient of the Swiss Arbitration Academy yearly Grant 2016, Zurich, Switzerland. She has been awarded the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Arbitration of the Universities of Lucerne, together with the University of Neuchâtel as well as the Swiss Arbitration Academy (SAA) and the Arbitration Practitioner (ArbP) diploma issued by the SAA. Beata was a Regional Representative for YIAG 2016/2019. She was a participant (speaker) of Post-Doctoral School 2016 at Max Planck Institute Luxembourg. In 2013 Beata was awarded a certificate and scholarship by The International Academy for Arbitration Law Paris, France. She has also been nominated as an Ambassador to the Academy for Arbitration Law (Paris, France).

Beata is a fully qualified lawyer registered with the Lithuanian Bar Association. She was a result-oriented Associate in the Dispute Resolution practice group in the Baltics.  She is also continuing to write articles on issues arising in international commercial and investment arbitration

Working languages: English, Russian, Polish, Spanish, and Lithuanian.

Dr Ming-Jin Jiang

Course Leader at Marbella International University Centre

Ming-Jin started her career with a BSc in Business Administration majoring in finance at the Taiwan University; she then moved on to complete an MA and an MSc both in Economics at Boston University, USA, and Universidad Carlos III, Spain, respectively. She then went on to earn a Ph.D in Economics at Universidad Carlos III where she has worked as a professor as well as at the University of Vienna.

Her main research interests are microeconomics, macroeconomics and their application to banking and finance and her current research focuses on Venture Capital Finance and its interaction with labour market regulations.

Ming-Jin has also been a visiting professor at various universities such as University of Lugano in Switzerland and Academia Sinica in Taiwan, her home country. She is fluent in Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese, English, and German and is currently learning Spanish. She has participated in various research projects and has received several awards for her publications and academic achievements.


[1] This paragraph derives from materials of Aurelio Gurrea Martínez.