Associate Dean Andrea Carugati: Digitalisation may disrupt all academic disciplines

Since 1 September 2018, Professor Andrea Carugati from the Department of Management has been the school’s Associate Dean for digitisation. He will work towards making digitalisation an integrated part of the school’s degree programmes. The aim is to ensure that our students obtain the digital skills that are in demand on the labour market. As a school, we have a duty to do so, he says.

2019.03.27 | Sinne B. Jakobsen

Photo: Aarhus BSS Communication

 

Can you tell us a bit about your tasks as Associate Dean?

In short, my task is to help the departments make digitalisation an integrated part of the degree programmes. The purpose is to give our students the digital skills that companies are looking for within each academic field. Digital skills concern the ability to understand and be able to use digital tools and techniques when performing work-related tasks. Thus, it is not the same as Educational IT, which concerns how we use digital tools in our teaching in order to increase the students' learning outcome.

My task is not to tell the lecturers what they should be teaching or how, but rather to provide them with tools that will enable them to decide how to structure their teaching. Here I collaborate closely with the departments and the individual lecturers to find out how they are currently working with digitalisation in their teaching and what ideas they might have.

Why is it so important to include digitalisation in our degree programmes?

It is all about ensuring that our students continue to be attractive in the labour market. And preparing them for the world they will encounter once they get a job. There is no doubt that digitalisation will constitute a significant part of our students’ professional lives - regardless of their academic field.

In the future, we will see hybrid organisations - with human beings working alongside artificial intelligence and digital systems. For this reason, one of the first things we will be doing within each academic field is to explore whether there is a gap between the digital skills of the students and the skills that employers are looking for. This gap is exactly what we need to close by integrating digitalisation in our teaching.

Is digitalisation relevant in all academic fields?

Yes, it is. Of course, the digital challenges will be different whether you are a psychologist or a market economist, but no academic field can afford the luxury of regarding digitalisation as an isolated field.

Today, one single digital idea may disrupt an entire profession. This has happened within fields such as law or psychology where we now have virtual lawyers and a plethora of apps you can use to diagnose yourself. The question is how we can teach our students to make use of these digital opportunities so that they may apply the technology to strengthen their own academic knowledge. For example, we could teach psychology students how they can use apps as a supplement to their own treatment. I am not saying that we should educate IT experts, but rather that we educate students who understand the technology, know how to apply it and how to develop new technology in collaboration with computer experts.

Is it possible to find one common solution for all academic fields?

No, that will not be possible. It is actually very important to emphasise that digitalisation is not one specific thing. Rather digitalisation is what is academically important at the individual departments. This is exactly why we need to be in close dialogue.

It also varies a lot how far the departments and the individual lecturers have come in terms of digitalisation. Some have already integrated it into their courses, others might want to, but are not sure how to go about it. For that reason, I am also planning to develop an online resource for each academic field with cases, papers, industry reports, list of courses, etc., that may inspire the lecturers.

We will also be arranging interdisciplinary courses and workshops that allow lecturers to learn from each other across academic fields. The first workshop takes place at the end of April. Here lecturers who are conducting research into digitalisation can find out more about how to integrate their research into their own teaching.  

How did you react when you were asked if you would like to become Associate Dean?

I was actually very happy to be asked for several reasons. First of all, the job allows me to use my academic expertise as I conduct research into digital innovation and digital transformation. It also allows me to get in contact with many different people from many different fields. I am very inquisitive by nature, and it is very exciting for me to hear how other disciplines are talking about digitalisation.

Second of all, I see it as a very important task that we cannot allow ourselves to ignore. The world is changing all the time, and we have a duty to provide our students with the right skills so that they can keep up. Not long ago, my 14-year-old daughter asked me what she should study at university in order to get a good job. This is the scariest question anyone has ever asked me. Because, I actually do not know. If my work here allows to me to get just a bit closer to providing my daughter with an answer, it has all been worth it.

You have a lot to do in three years?

Yes, but I am not doing it on my own. I collaborate closely with Vice-dean Per Andersen and a great team consisting of a project manager, a postdoc who will be conducting employer studies, and a secretary who helps with administrative matters. This works very well. Fortunately, It-vest, a network between the universities in the western part of Denmark (and thus the equivalent of the IT University of Copenhagen) has decided to support us. This enables us to have such a team.

I would also very much like to hear from lecturers who are interested in working with digitalisation in their teaching. Call me or write to me, and we will have a chat.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about how you can include digitalisation in your teaching, please contact Andrea Carugati:

Email: andrea@mgmt.au.dk 
Tel.: +4587164945

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