Monday, October 24, 2016

UTS Bachelor of Technology and Innovation

Greetings from the University of Technology Sydney, where the 15th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2016), just opened. Professor Shirley Alexander, UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the delegates and talked about the UTS Bachelor of Technology and Innovation (BTI), being introduced next year. This is a general degree in technology, intended for those going into business: the 21st Century replacement for the arts degree.

UTS are still working out the details of their BIT, but it is positioned for everything from Technology Policy Analysts and Creative Technologists to Project Managers. One interesting aspect is that students will undertake a capstone project, to "... integrate the skills and knowledge learnt and mastered ...". It will be interesting o see how UTS cope with guiding students through the capstone and how they assess it.

At present I am undertaking a capstone for an Master of Education, in the form of an e-portfolio and also tutoring ANU students who have to prepare a project portfolio. For technology students, who are used to delving into technical details, a capstone is a very different, very difficult task. This is also challenging for instructors with a technical background to teach how to do this and to assess.

Another aspect of the BTI which will be challenging is how to have a broad, but still relevant, technical degree. As an example, UTS are claiming the degree will be suitable for future "Project Managers". However, project managers would normally be first qualified in a discipline and then in how to mange projects in that disciple. Software engineers learn how to create software first and then how to mange software projects. Ideally, software engineering students go through stages, where they first learn the basics of software, then work as a team member on a project, then as a team leader. In addition, students could work on their own innovation startup, however most work in conventional companies and government agencies.

Do BIT students undertake their disciplinary studies concurrently as a double degree, or as a masters afterwards (the Melbourne model)? Otherwise BIT graduates may end up like arts graduates: well educated, but not qualified for any specific job.

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