POSTED: Jun 30, 2023

Education
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Developing Teaching and Learning Approaches to Improve Professional Skills and Competencies
Dimanthinie De Silva

PhD

Queensland University of Technology

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The research aims to investigate the experiences of undergraduate Information Technology students and to enquire about the teaching and assessment methods used to develop professional skills and competencies in Higher Education. This article serves as a starting point for my investigation.

Organisations have identified two key industrial hurdles according to the World Economic Forum (2023): a skills gap in the employees they hire, and a challenge in attracting the correct talent. In 2022, ICT Professionals have been recognised as the fourth most prevalent labour shortage occupation in Europe. This highlights the global scarcity of experienced IT professionals. According to (Deloitte Access Economics, Australian Computer Society, 2022), Australia will require around 1.2 million IT professionals by 2027. 

Developing graduates who are technically and professionally competent is thus the responsibility of higher education today. IT degrees teach students how to utilise, protect, manage, and exchange technology to meet our requirements. The goal should be to teach how to use technology for the betterment of the society. The teacher with a pen who writes on their students' papers has become outdated today. If we strive to drill knowledge into students and assess the same, there are plenty of external sources available in the modern world. Students can readily acquire information by watching certain web videos and reading publications on their own. Students therefore do not need to spend their entire lives in a university to acquire information, which raises the question of what the university’s added value is. As the technology evolves rapidly in the Information Technology sector, and the challenges that professionals confront are unpredictable depending on the nature of a project and a client, being prepared to deal with situations as a professional is more important than ever.

Knowledge-based learning by itself does not provide enough opportunities into the future, and it is therefore necessary to reconsider how we approach teaching and learning now. Jobs that will be created in the future may be very different from those that exist today. Universities must assist students in imagining their life beyond the classroom. Students in today's world should be able to get insights, observe the world, and form autonomous judgements, to benefit the world. Academics in traditional education attempted to manage the learning context through elements such as content, activities, and examinations. What is required is rather to facilitate learning through coaching and assistance as students mature. Students should be encouraged to form opinions, debate based on data and critical thinking, perform and act as professionals. This cannot be instilled overnight; students must be gradually introduced to this culture throughout their educational experience, and it will be refined through further practice and reflection. To address ongoing workforce changes, the educational system should constantly emphasise lifelong learning. That is where new skills like creativity, knowledge, imagination, humanism, and consciousness will emerge.

The methods for teaching, learning, and evaluating should be chosen in line with the circumstances, skills, and values that need to be developed. This varies depending on the situation and the discipline. When choosing methods, paying more attention to what, why, and how we develop the student should come first. Undergraduate studies last four years, and this is a critical time in a student's life. It is the responsibility of Higher Education to transform a student into a professional rather than just an expert in a certain field of knowledge.

Moving from teacher-centred to student-centred, knowledge-based to skills-based, and allowing students to apply what they have learned in class to real-world problems, concerns, and applications is therefore critical. Work-integrated learning, signature pedagogies, and authentic learning are just a few examples of teaching approaches that may be employed today to assist students in building their skills and competencies.

The role of higher education is to carefully select teaching, learning and assessment methods; inspire students to obtain new skills and competencies, as well as aid students in being better prepared to succeed in their employment or enterprise. 

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