Design Education Opinion

Creative Industries and Multidisciplinary Higher Education

Digital Illustration by Vinod J. Nair, 2020

According to Ernst and Young and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the world’s creative industries are worth US $2,250 billion in revenues. It is 3% of the world’s GDP and surpasses the GDP of 95% of all countries in the world. About 1% of the world’s population are employed by the creative industries — 29.5 million jobs worldwide.

The expansive reach of the internet accelerated the growth of the creative industries, where digital technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) fueled the reproduction and distribution of creative contents and products globally. Content designers around the world collaborated and produced customized creative products and experiences for highly targeted audiences. Immense opportunities to enhance the human experiences in visual, sound, tactility and olfactory senses, with personalized and unique interactions in all facets of life, was made possible by the 4IR.

On the flip side, the world today is also encountering ill-defined complex problems that need the 4IR to solve these problems with the collective wisdom of multidisciplinary collaborations. Today and tomorrow’s workforce need to be skilled with broad and complementary skillsets in order to identify, design and solve ill-defined, complex problems. Technology integration competencies for innovations in the new business paradigm is needed to propagate collaborative innovation that fuses technology and creative strategies.

Higher learning institutions around the world need to respond in producing multidisciplinary competencies in graduates with interdisciplinary curricula focused on faculty, student, and external stakeholder collaborations. This crucial realignment of higher learning institutions, businesses, and employment will produce the needed intellectual capital and collective intelligence for the 4IR world. Unfortunately, most of the world’s higher education institutions are deeply entrenched in the siloed and closet disciplines of fragmented knowledge acquisition. University students are ‘funnelled’ down specialized learning tracks that supress multidisciplinary aspirations and thinking; treating learning as a product rather than a process.

Digital Illustration by Vinod J. Nair, 2020

In Malaysia, the Ministry of Higher Education’s mandate MyHE4.0 2018 declared that the teaching and learning process calls for an overhaul in redesigning learning spaces and applying fluid and organic curriculum, integrated with the latest learning and teaching technologies. The overhaul would stimulate the development of new knowledge fields that could lead to innovations beyond the constraints of conventional curriculum practices. The identified new pedagogies of self-directed learning, peer-oriented collaborative learning and technology enhanced learning; will empower students to achieve 4IR competencies.

In tandem, introducing and executing multidisciplinary collaborations in higher education is needed to allow for effective channels of multidisciplinary perspectives and practices to solve ill-defined complex problems. However, there is still a lack of teaching and learning frameworks in the academic sphere to help academicians to execute multidisciplinary design collaborations in producing positive learning experiences for tertiary level students. Guidelines and policies need to be created to steer and support the efforts of academicians in creating constructive aligned curricular with the effective pedagogies to facilitate and nurture students from multiple disciplines to engage and produce greater results than mono disciplines.

Taking heed of how the creative industries have flourished and grown with the proliferation of 4IR technologies, the higher education sector could learn a thing or two on how to creatively collaborate to reproduce and distribute teaching and learning strategies and frameworks regardless of conventional boundaries. Perhaps the higher education sector could adopt crowdsourced collective intelligence in developing and supporting their curricular and pedagogical development. With the demand and supply growth of online learning resources, courses and micro credentials, the tertiary education industry is certainly under threat. The time to innovate and overhaul has indeed arrived for the archaic tertiary education system.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: