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An Inside View of Digitalized Education

November 15, 2016 by Susan Galer 82

What if you taught a required undergraduate course and the class average went from B- to an A because everyone was engaged the entire term? That’s the situation Dr. Michael Bliemel faced after digitalizing his technology curriculum by partnering with SAP.

“We don’t normally have such a high grade average for undergraduates, but this is what happens when you get students passionate about easy-to-use, relevant technology that solves real-world business problems,” he said.

#DalhousieUniversity students are passionate about SAP’s tech because it can help solve real-life business problems

Bliemel, a professor of the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University, believes the rapid pace of technology advancements has rendered traditional textbook-based education almost obsolete. Dalhousie is among the more than 2,900 member learning institutions of SAP University Alliances.

The school brings students the latest SAP technologies through on-premise SAP lab instruction, massive open online courses (MOOCS), software simulations, and onsite development and design events. Students can opt for a MOOC on the openSAP platform to earn a certificate on a technology solution instead of taking a final exam question. They can engage in business simulations using ERPsim, learning what succeeds and fails through hands-on experience.

A team of students recently attended SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, where they competed in SAP InnoJam and DemoJam to develop software for education and research.

“Instructors are more coaches and facilitators steering students to information sources as they emerge, including external MOOCs and contests,” said Bliemel. “Students get very engaged and inspired with this kind of fluid, hands-on project approach because it takes them beyond concepts to boost their comfort and confidence with the technology. They get passionate about it because they see how technologies like big data and analytics work, leading to better decisions and getting a better grade in the course.”

#DalhousieUniversity students like the fluid, hands-on project approach SAP tech gives them, said Bliemel

Updated Knowledge Leads to Jobs

Bliemel sees increasing demand for skilled graduates to replace an aging workforce whose skills are obsolete.

“It’s difficult to get a new generation of leaders and innovators into the SAP ecosystem,” he said. “We’re happy to partner with SAP University Alliances to give students a head start in the new way of thinking reflected in SAP’s cloud solutions like SAP Fiori, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP S/4HANA and SAP Hybris. Student who learn these solutions in our classroom are graduating and getting jobs implementing this software.”

According to Dr. Bernd Welz, executive vice president and global head of Scale, Enablement & Transformation at SAP, the company’s digital platform, which also includes SAP Learning Hub for partner certification, have fundamentally transformed how SAP educates employees, customers, and partners. For example, participation in SAP’s digital courses is 12 times higher than traditional classroom training, reflecting an overall market trend to faster, flexible learning.

Participation in SAP’s digital courses is 12x higher than traditional classroom training

“Consider how much developers have had to grow their skills as we’ve evolved to SAP HANA Cloud Platform,” he said “SAP has digitalized its educational programs to provide the kind of lifelong, cost-effective, ongoing learning that students, professionals and instructors require.”

Educating the Next Younger Generation

In the digital age, students are never too young to start learning about technology, which has become as basic to curriculum as reading and writing. Patrick Hartleitner, Deputy Head of the Suso-Gymnasium in Germany, has high expectations from his school’s participation in SAP’s Young Thinkers Program. SAP experts are providing support for teachers and students of Hartleitner’s school including design thinking workshops on the school of the future, project planning skills for IT competitions, and learning materials on programming and other areas – for both teachers and students.

Suso-Gymnasium is getting support for teachers and students from SAP’s Young Thinkers Program

“It’s natural to partner with SAP because we’re always lagging when it comes to keeping up with advanced technologies,” said Hartleitner. “We never have enough teachers and funds to adequately prepare students with the STEM knowledge they need, so having these kinds of curriculum materials for teacher training and student learning is very valuable.”

Public/Private Partnership for Open Education

SAP’s strategy also reflects the German government’s commitment to “open education resources,” providing teachers and students with an understanding of technology, inspiring them to use it to help tackle the biggest challenges in the world.

This approach is front and center at the IT Summit being held this week. SAP is partnering with working groups for the event, and will provide two schools in Germany with IT learning materials through the Young Thinkers Program. In addition, SAP is sponsoring design thinking workshops at the event to help participants brainstorm future educational needs.

Digitalization dramatically changes learning for businesses, schools and learners themselves. High student grades across the board followed by greater job opportunities prove the future of education is very bright indeed.

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