Where would you go without innovation or being innovative in today’s environment, where we rely on innovative products/services to survive in business.
Innovation can be defined as coming up with new ways/ products that enhance businesses as well as ordinary activities. Quoting William Baumol from his book The Free-Market Innovation Machine, “virtually all the economic growth that has occurred since the eighteenth century is ultimately attributable to innovation”. This shows that innovation has been the driving competitive force for more than 200 years and with the rapid increase in technology in this century, innovation is becoming even more critical and crucial in today’s business environment.
Living in a world with limited resources and unlimited wants gave human beings no option but to come up with better ways to live a sustainable life. With the turn of the 21st century, developments in all fields of study and work have taken place at a tremendous pace. Unlike in earlier times, the state of all things is inclined to change in the blink of an eye. Rapid progress in technology, research, the ever-evolving dynamics of learning, and producing effective outcomes have unquestionably put a demand and pressure on the field of higher education to move forward towards changing its ways of imparting knowledge and skills to students.
The obvious step towards meeting this demand is making innovation an imperative part of the curricula followed in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) worldwide. The rise of innovation in the field of higher education would produce better results as students are geared towards testing their knowledge and skills continuously for producing better products and services that help mankind and our world as a whole to develop, sustain and progress in all ways possible.
Massive developments in the technological arena have changed the ways in which education is being imparted today. The use of computers, projectors, power-point slides, and other audio-visual aids to facilitate learning is no new thing today. However, according to research, it has been seen that even though technology has made it easy to access and learn things students are not able to produce the required outcomes when the time of exercising their knowledge and skills comes. What, then, is the reason for this stagnation? the answer is obviously that students are not able to innovate on their body of knowledge and learning gained over the years. The factor causing this inability to innovate and meet the demands of current times is the erroneous method of imparting education that is being followed everywhere. Instead of using technology to develop examination systems, pass exams or just gain learning to meet some desired end, students and teachers must be groomed towards using that technology and learning to work upon developing ways that could advance humanity in better ways.
Innovation needs technology and technology itself produces innovative outcomes. Students must be given tasks like doing projects on the concept and produce new things or discover things undiscovered. They must innovate to solve innumerable problems that plague our mother earth. When the belief that there is always a possibility of discovery and innovation in everything is given to students, then definitely this learning would motivate them to exercise their brains towards producing and not just passing exams or completing homework.
HEIs need to develop a curriculum tailored towards enabling students to be innovative because studies have shown that companies that are innovative remain in the market for longer, produce higher returns on investments, create strong barriers to entry for new firms and serve customers better. This can only happen if students in HEIs are exposed to innovation at the early stages so that they can incorporate it into their learning. There are certain concepts in innovation studies that require more attention such as the innovation system, open innovation, and Triple Helix model as they are used to develop knowledge in society and provide students with a link between universities and economic development. In this context, HEIs could be considered as equivalent to innovation engines in society because they not only improve the quality and quantity of the workforce but also create an attractive environment for entrepreneurs, as they are the engine of the nation’s sustainability. Such innovation is required if HEIs are to thrive, compete, and bring new relevance and meaning to the value of higher education in the 21st century.
About the authors:
Dr Hesham Magd
Associate Dean Quality Assurance and International Accreditation, Faculty of Business and Economics Head Modern College of Business and Science, Muscat, Oman.
Mr Raihan Syed
Program Coordinator – Management & OB Department of Management & Law, Faculty of Business & Economics, Modern College of Business and Science, Muscat, Oman.