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8 Jul 2022

APU Infuses Creativity in Curriculum to Prepare Graduates Beyond IR 4.0

Whether you’re prepared or not, the world is facing rapid technological development right now.

The Malaysian digital economy is expected to contribute more than 25.5% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 and tech visionaries are already forecasting the Fifth Industrial Revolution (IR 5.0). This era will witness collaborative robot systems (Cobots) where manpower is integrated with smart technology. In fact, a recent survey by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council predicted that AI machines will be part of a company’s board of directors by 2026.

However, machines aren’t capable of outsmarting humans. While they can process data faster, machines can’t produce creative and innovative results. This puts creativity in one of the top 3 skills future talents need.

Plus, the emergence of disruptive technologies (4D printing, quantum Internet, miniature AI, brain-computer interface, smart robots, neuromorphic hardware) shows that there is an increasing demand to produce talents that can adapt in the digital transformation. Therefore, these future-proof qualities should be nurtured from tertiary education level.

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“Creativity, undoubtedly, is a key graduate attribute for the 21st century,” stated APU vice-chancellor, Prof Dr Ho Chin Kuan. As learning takes place beyond the classroom, he added that creativity can be encouraged by adopting the Teaching and Learning (T&L) strategies.

According to Prof Ho, creativity is defined by the ability to produce original ideas and solutions that bring value. While there has been great progress in making computer programs perform human-like tasks, humans still have a distinctive edge in creativity.

“While algorithms typically learn from existing information, humans have an innate ability to think out of the box. Rather than compete, we expect that technology will augment our creative ability,” added Prof Ho.

APU Teaching & Learning strategies to produce creative graduates

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According to Prof Ho, APU’s Teaching and Learning (T&L) blends both guided and independent learning approaches. This method provides space for students to explore and experiment with ideas, and encourages them to take responsibility for their learning.

“Learning takes place everywhere, be it in the classroom, out of the classroom, and in cyberspace. We are no longer compartmentalising learning in specific areas, rather, we adopt Teaching and Learning (T&L) strategies that encourage creativity,” Prof Ho explained.

“Problem-based learning and project-based learning are two strategies that emphasise knowledge discovery through exploration. This encourages the development of creativity,” he elaborated.

Other methods include combining students from different disciplines for projects. “We can bring together students from multiple disciplines to solve a challenge. Creative juices will start flowing when one is motivated by problems facing another discipline,” Prof Ho said.

“Students should be encouraged to take part in competitions that embody real-world scenarios. Such an approach is called authentic learning — putting students in situations similar to what they will face in the workplace,” he added.

With the right guided learning and approach, APU can foster students with creativity, nurture graduates with capabilities to develop innovative solutions in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world and produce talents that build an era of digitality and creativity.

APU has been proven by the latest Annual Graduate Tracer Study by the Higher Education Ministry, which shows that 100% of APU graduates were employed upon graduation.

APU students also have the option to opt-in for the APU-DMU dual degree scheme, where they will receive two sets of degree certificates and transcripts upon graduation — one from APU (Malaysia) and another from the De Montfort University (United Kingdom).

With DMU’s history of over 150 years in providing higher education to students from around the globe, this collaboration provides the students with a global outlook and shapes them into global IR 5.0 citizens.

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