The future of AI-oriented curriculum in higher education
If you’re looking for what the future of artificial intelligence (AI) holds, the truth is out there. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global artificial intelligence (AI) market is expected to reach $267 billion by 2027—a $27 billion increase from 2019. A Salesforce study showed that in 2019 nearly one out of every four business sales teams used AI, with that percentage growing every year. And a 2019 Gartner report estimated that the number of businesses adopting AI grew by 270% in just four years.
Here’s the skinny: AI is not just for engineering students. Take the SKEMA Business School in Raleigh, North Carolina, which just partnered with IBM’s Global University Programs on the IBM Skills Academy. Available for undergraduate and graduate students, the program offers real-world AI classes in data science, cybersecurity and blockchain. The training and certification program is designed to bridge the skill gap between the university and the market industry.
The IBM Skills Academy, offered by SKEMA as one of only a handful of business schools around the world, takes students through an enablement journey of Design Thinking and their chosen upskill field of interest (AI, data science, cybersecurity, etc.). Along with AI, coursework includes high-demand skills, including design thinking, data science, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and quantum computing. Each course comprises 75-plus hours of theory, lab exercises and industry cases. To earn the certificate and course credit, students must complete all three elements, including a comprehensive exam, labs and a student project using Design Thinking methodology.
To get a snapshot of why the one-of-a-kind program is so valuable, we sat down with Mohamed A. Desoky, Associate Dean of Academic Programs for SKEMA Business School, U.S. Campus.
Why is it imperative to teach evolutionary skills like AI, data science and cybersecurity today?
Because these areas are becoming part of the lexicon in business. We are just pioneering the integration of that competency across programs.
“These competencies will produce better, more informed decision-making processes. The product of better business decisions is, frankly, unbounded.”
Why are these areas so important to the future stability of our business landscape?
These competencies will produce better, more informed decision-making processes. The product of better business decisions is, frankly, unbounded.
How essential is technology literacy for tomorrow’s business leaders?
To ignore this area is similar to standing still before an approaching 100-foot wave. Whether it be supply chain, HR, strategy, project management, finance, even marketing—every management discipline has integrated, at different degrees, contours of data management/analysis.
How do you see technologies like AI evolving?
AI is more than just a game-changing technology for business regarding data collection, analysis and implementation. It will continue to change the way we work, live, communicate and experience the world. I see AI and Machine Learning to be constructive to human cognitive and business processes. Yes, there will be ethical issues and bugs that will need to be addressed, or even regulated, but on the whole the evolution will benefit the common good. So it’s about “how” we use the technology versus the technology itself.
What are the main tenets of the IBM Skills Academy? What do you want every student to walk away with?
We simply want to plant the seed of this evolution in the mind of every student who steps on our campus. Sure, some students will scoff at having to take Data Science or Artificial Intelligence, but that’s the nature of academia and particularly the concept of making students take “core” courses, similar to physics, calculus, etc. We are developing this new core which is revolutionary.
“We simply want to plant the seed of this evolution in the mind of every student who steps on our campus.”
Why is it important to build partnerships with companies like IBM to strengthen the learning in these areas?
Aside from the brand and history, IBM has invested the time and resources to develop a great skills academy curriculum that’s reachable for any student and professional learner. In short, IBM offered the most comprehensive set of technology-relevant courses, designed for management studies, and scalable through their train-the-trainer model.
Why should more universities be focusing on the study of these areas?
Colleges and universities will need to assure their enrolled population that they are “seeing” the 100-foot wave and making relevant changes to their curriculum in the quest to ready them for their future workplace.
Quite frankly, future employers will hire those students/professionals with relevant skills. If institutions of higher learning don’t recognize and embrace the relevance of these technological competencies, they very well could jeopardize the future employability prospects of their student body.