Boston City Campus is gearing up to train the next generation of leaders

Boston City Campus is gearing up to train the next generation of leaders

Barack Obama’s first degree, after which he entered the workplace as a Community Organiser in Chicago, was a Bachelor of Arts. One might agree that the man who is Head of State of America must have management savvy – which Obama has in great supply, despite never having completed a degree in management or commerce. Both Bill Gates and Elon Musk are future-thinking leaders in technology and command great wealth, and both are proud and active philanthropists. These are globally influential people who are astute in their fields, and all value something much more than business acumen only. They understand “what people [and institutions and societies] want/need”.

Today’s socially conscious young person is attracted to employment that does not only serve the purpose of paying a salary: the work that is done must mean something more than money-making – it must be purposeful. Yes, making money is the core tenet of capitalism but the truth is that the foundation of business relationships is the connection between people who close deals, the people who set up funding arrangements, the people who manage local and global projects.

Whether your ideal job is in the public or private sectors, or in civil society, i.e. a role in non-profit organisations, Boston City Campus (Boston) recognises that management is more than numbers on a ledger. We advocate a holistic learning experience that prepares you for a wide range of opportunities. Our Bachelor of Social Science (BSocSci) ensures that you are well-read in subjects as diverse as Strategic Management, Public Administration, and Environmental Economics, as well as Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology. To these core subjects, we add Project Management, Entrepreneurship, and Research Methods because we understand that in the world today all employers need that spark of ingenuity and innovativeness in their employees, and that report writing has become a feature of any corporation or not-for-profit as accountability to stakeholders remains key to most (if not all) projects.

Scenario 1: you are a member of a global team responsible for the distribution of World Bank relief funds to the starving and needy in a war-torn country. Your reports to the World Bank must cover not only the numbers, which you do understand, but also the efficacy of the relief effort, and the social effect of the intervention.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is undeniably “here” – whether we see it to a greater or lesser extent. Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote (with and EVP of AI and research Harry Shum in their 2018 book, ‘The Future Computed: Artificial Intelligence and its Role in Society’) that “[a]s computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important”. What computers can do today will only be magnified tomorrow, and it is naïve to think that we can ignore the pundits who have emphasised for some time that the skills the workplace values today are critical thinking, creativity and abstract problem solving. A purely business-focused degree does not offer this type of skillset. Business transactions infer a human connection – be that in pitching a project, motivating for funding, or inspiring the public to get behind a socially just cause. Moreover, there are stakeholders to keep happy in any organisational setting, which requires astute and genuine liaison between parties, the type of connection that the numbers themselves cannot create and sustain.

Scenario 2: the tech start-up you work for has patented a brand-new product but needs seed funding to get it off the ground. The tech guys can demonstrate how the product works, and the number guys can prove the financial viability – but only the BSocSci (you) can excite the funders with relatable and real-life situations, backed up by extensive market research to the point that they commit to the project.

Liaison is part of the broader need for communication in the world today. A BSocSci graduate has been taught how to conduct research and write reports which serve as clear and accountable project updates for all involved. These reports are destined for a wide and varied audience – oftentimes philanthropists, financial experts, and specialists in fields such as the medical professionals who have been mobilised and are being supported in the fight against COVID-19. The project lead in this instance must write a report that is understood by all parties. Numbers alone do not tell the full story.

Scenario 3: the board of your global not-for-profit agreed to allocate resources to assisting the fight against COVID-19 in South Africa. The members of the board range from Eastern business moguls to Western European hospitality giants. The board wants a report on which resources were allocated and how, and the relative effect of this deployment. You know that the continued support of the organisation for desperate people in your own city depends on the clear legalities and ethics on which the assistance is based, the cultural nuances and understanding in the presentation of the report, the accuracy of the numbers you account for, and the translation of the wider social impact of the scheme for the diverse international audience.

Krystle Dodge, writing for Degree Query in the United States, listed the highest paying roles for graduates of the Social Sciences. These included Political Scientist, Economist, Urban and Regional Planner, and Survey Researcher. Our BSocSci graduates are perfectly placed to understand the needs of people in society – better still, our graduates understand that societies and cultures differ, want different things, and respond to different stimuli. Think of Boston’s BSocSci graduate as the keen-eyed spotter on a game drive: before anyone else has spotted the carefully camouflaged sighting, the BSocSci sees, understands, and can direct others to see the sight… or in the business world, to see the developing trend. The numbers follow the trends, and it takes human nature to understand human nature.

Boston is serious about education and serious about our students. We recognise that there is considerable personal and family sacrifice involved in achieving a higher education qualification. We want your qualification to change your life, and in turn, positively influence the society we live in. We do not want our graduates to be ‘clicktivists’ who are deaf to the calls of our society: we aim to mold graduates who are deeply attuned to society at large, and able to view ideas from many different angles. The Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology modules that are core to the BSocSci are key to molding socially conscious leaders. The programme’s Fact Sheet offers that “[p]rospective students who are energised by the many possibilities for making a difference in society will find the BSocSci intellectually stimulating and practically robust”. It really is the business degree of the future.

The BSocSci is the perfect degree from which to springboard. Postgraduate study options are widely available to the BSocSci graduate, from postgraduate qualifications in Management, Education, Marketing to the clinical focus of Psychology and Sociology. It would not be strange to find the BSocSci graduate in a Master’s programme specialising in Strategic Management, Development Studies, or completing a postgraduate qualification in secondary-school teaching (subjects that can be taught include Management, Business, and Economics, Geography and History, as examples). The options are endless. You would be able to enrol at your institution of choice for further study – but do bear in mind that each institution has its own entrance requirements.

Boston offers more. Not only are we offering a BSocSci which opens many doors to you, but we are offering you an individualised learning journey – one which you oversee. By offering technologically mediated online learning, together with textbooks (free of charge) and support centres countrywide, we are offering a learning experience, not the transfer of knowledge. This is critical to the development of the successful graduate who wants so much more than the words on a page… you want engagement, discussion, debates and that feeling of personal development that you know will translate into confidence in the working world.

Africa is ready for a new crop of leaders. Boston is ready to partner with you!

Chat to a training advisor on 011 551 2000 or visit www.boston.co.za for more info.

Benefits of online higher education in 2020

Benefits of online higher education in 2020

Written by Dr Hendrik Botha and Dr Janet Viljoen

While many institutions grapple with a sudden and dramatic shift to online learning, provision of technology-mediated learning is in our DNA. Boston City Campus & Business College has decades of experience in this modality of provision. “That Covid-19 will have a transformative impact on the way learning happens within the universities seems indisputable. The most dramatic evidence of this is the shift to online learning” (Habib and Valodia, 2020). While the emergency remote teaching (Hodges et al., 2020) deployed during the first half of 2020 was restructured in haste and lacked the proper pedagogical construction for online learning (Habib and Valodia, 2020), Boston has carefully curated its teaching and learning materials to be durable, reliable, cutting-edge and most importantly constructively-aligned for a seamless and coherent student learning experience.

The lockdown necessitated by COVID-19 across the world is the perfect backdrop against which to review our experience in online education and the advantages thereof.

In our experience, online and distance learning (ODL) is flexible, cost-effective and enables access even to those in full-time employment. Learning can take place at any time and in any place and is not constrained by factors such as lecture-room capacity. Online and distance learning opportunities remove the binary choices: it is no longer study or work, study or travel, upskill or have a family: it is study AND work, travel, and have a family. Moreover, the world is no longer preoccupied with what type of learning got you your qualification: what remains important is the reputation of the institution and of its graduates. One such measure is evidenced in local and voluntary international accreditation. There is no more a social hierarchy between contact learning (face-to-face) and online and distance learning experiences. Money talks, and where online learning opportunities are concerned your saving is less likely to be in the fees per se, but rather in the considerable associated spend on living expenses which include over-priced accommodation close to the institution and high travel expenses, and opportunity cost i.e. not being able to take up part-time or full-time contract work and especially not so if it is outside the geographic location from the campus.

Acknowledging the context of the 21st century and the fourth industrial revolution, online learning by its very nature supports and develops personal independence, and prepares the candidate for the modern workplace – one which is characterised by remote work-from-home arrangements and a high degree of personal autonomy. The student who has had to self-manage their studies is someone who can be trusted to meet deadlines in the remote workplace. Driving one’s own academic journey via online and distance learning accelerates the individual’s need to think critically, solve problems, and take responsibility for progress: these “soft skills” are valuable currency in the modern workplace. Self-directed learning also affords you the chance to pace yourself toward your goals: we cannot all run the race at the same speed, and nor should we. Choosing your pace is but a part of the participatory nature of online learning, where the student is actively involved in determining learning goals and is able to choose how many courses to take in any semester while taking into account other responsibilities, such as family and employment. In a word, online learning predicates itself on “autonomy”.

Technological advances have revolutionised the online and distance learning space. Learning management systems (LMS) offer single-point access to all that is needed for the truly integrated learning experience: digital content, syllabi, interfacing with faculty, communication with peers, synchronous and asynchronous lectures (real-time or recorded for later viewing). The LMS technology also facilitates online completion of assessment events, permits grading to happen online, and for feedback to reach the student swiftly. Boston leverages the available technology to the student’s benefit, incorporating AI to monitor participation, send motivational communications, and trigger alerts when participation is low which prompts a call to the student from a member of faculty or a personal student advisor. Online does not mean alone!

Technology has reduced the relative importance of space. Many contact institutions have considerable capacity challenges which consequently curtail the number and range of programme types that can be offered. Moreover, these challenges restrict the number of students who can enrol. Online providers have no such limitations and are also able to extend the range of higher education programmes on offer to give credence to widening access. Boston offers a wide range of Higher Certificate and Diploma qualifications which cater to niche specialisations and are occupationally focused. Access to these qualifications is not restricted by the need for a Bachelor’s Pass in the Matric examinations, and completion of one of these qualifications may facilitate transition into a Bachelor’s Degree upon successful completion. Your dream of higher education is not over because you did not achieve a Bachelors’ Pass: there are many alternative higher education qualifications available to you, all recognised on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). At the other end of the spectrum, you may elect one of our Bachelor’s degrees in Commerce, Accounting or Social Science, or perhaps you may wish to advance your business acumen through our unique Postgraduate Diploma in Management.

Online provision of learning comes in many different forms and with many variants of support available to the student. You may be familiar with online learning where you simply purchase the course and complete it and have no contact with any subject experts along the way, relying exclusively on pre-recorded videos and material available online. On the other end of the scale, there is online learning that relies heavily on lectures via technology such as Zoom, which requires you to be online at a certain time to attend the class. Boston likes to take a middle road approach: the material is online for you to access 24/7 at your convenience, and subject experts are available for consultation via online communication channels. We go a step further than this. Boston provides the prescribed courseware (textbooks) free of charge as part of the fee structure. This means that when Eskom load sheds, or when you run out of data, you can continue your learning journey. We believe that we cannot rely exclusively on technology and that the deployment of our LMS works best in conjunction with the “good old hardcopy textbook”.

Some may argue that online learning does not offer the student the same personal development opportunities, social exposure, and peer engagement that other, more traditional (face-to-face) means of learning might. We think the key is in the word “personal” development and we argue that the enthusiastic student who is willing and able to learn will derive the same developmental benefits from the online interaction as from a face-to-face connection.  After all, we are all digital natives in some sense in 2020. Never satisfied with “good enough” Boston goes a step further: we provide Support Centres around the country where students can meet to collaborate, learn together, use technological facilities, or seek assistance from a Student Advisor. Attendance at a Support Centre is voluntary, self-directed and a matter of choice: this means you can travel to the centre during off-peak times when travel is cheaper, choose your days according to what suits your schedule, or indeed choose not to make use of the facilities in person in favour of online communication with faculty or advisors. The choice is yours – entirely yours.

Covid-19 highlights the need to reimagine the global institutional architecture of the higher education system” (Habib and Valodia, 2020). Higher education is forcibly being pushed into new territory, unknown challenges lie ahead, and admittedly, no person has gone before us in this respect. The architecture of online education, such as we deploy at Boston, is established and robust. It has stood the test of time and has been through iterations of change and improvement in response to student needs. Where we may once have sat on the fringe of higher education provision, online provision of education now finds itself firmly central, swiftly approaching mainstream. Trust the online provider with years of experience to guide your learning journey. After all, it is one of the most important journeys you will ever embark on.

 

References

Habib, A., and Valodia, I. (2020). How universities can play a role in shaping a new post-crisis world. Business Day, May 24, 2020.
Retrieved May 27, 2020 from https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2020-05-24-how-universities-can-play-a-role-in-shaping-a-new-post-crisis-world/

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., and Bond A. (2020). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause.
Retrieved May 19, 2020 from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

First SA Private Higher Education Institution In Line For US Accreditation

First SA Private Higher Education Institution In Line For US Accreditation

COVID-19 and population lockdowns have physically isolated us and imposed restrictions on our ability to move freely. But it has also brought us together in some rather unexpected ways and reminded us that we are far more connected than we imagined. Our workplaces have been decentralised with remote working interventions and brought with it some positives that have long been recognised by those early-adopters of remote working: less traffic congestion, fuel savings, fewer hassles associated with travel, time-saving, and a measure of flexibility in terms of work hours.

While physically isolated, this global pandemic is surfacing the importance of leveraging our connectivity and the technologies on which we have become so dependent so that we remain active within a globally interconnected economy. Moreover, participation in the global economy raises some critical question about the relative currency of academic qualifications.

Ari Katz, CEO of Boston City Campus, proposes that a crucial value-add to academic qualifications is international recognition. He notes, “today, companies and industries have become quite flat structures, enabling more opportunities for more people on a global scale. As part of the fourth industrial revolution, employers and employees have to embrace new ideas, concepts, and strategies. Organisations aim to remain competitive and relevant by operating on a broad platform, liaising with international businesses for the exchanging of goods and services. Employees and business owners will need to be armed with ‘international’ skills so that they can operate on a global scale to remain competitive and relevant.”

A successful career in the management domain needs to have a global orientation. ‘Internationalisation’, therefore, is integral to establishing and maintaining a presence in today’s marketplace. While focusing on delivering-producing local services-products, there also needs to be an international reach to sell those skills and services. Especially now, our services come at a really low cost to international buyers. It’s an excellent opportunity to be selling South African based skills and services in IT, programming, telecommunications, call centres, project management, and sales, to name a few.

Internationally accredited qualifications thus become a highly valued aspect of one’s CV. “An international degree helps you create a robust bridge between you and your future career, through which you can achieve a greater exposure to attain the opportunities in the first place,” says an international consultant. Moreover, even when you operate locally, it makes you more attractive to local employers because you have a global mindset.

Boston City Campus has positioned itself as a private higher education provider that is sensitive to the needs of the local economy while having an eye on the global picture. In addition to accreditation as an Independent Higher Education Institution with the British Accreditation Council in the UK, Katz adds that Boston is now also a candidate for the accreditation of specific programmes by the ACBSP (Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs) in the USA.

“Higher education institutions increasingly have to locate themselves within the global context of an ever-changing educational landscape and must do everything they can to stay in touch with the needs, skills, and demands of business to remain relevant,” says Dr Hendrik Botha, Head of Institution at Boston. In this space, higher education as an industry needs to think local and act global. Put another way; higher education institutions must ensure that their approach to education is sensitive to the realities of life in South Africa while at the same time maintaining an active link with what is happening globally. “Boston’s goal to gain international recognition for its graduates is a strategic move for the institution. And, the voluntary accreditation with the BAC and the ACBSP gives expression to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) draft policy on the internationalisation of higher education,” says Dr Botha.

“We believe strongly in the importance of higher education being locally accredited (by the Council on Higher Education) as well as globally recognised through international accrediting bodies,” says Katz. “The world becomes a small operating system due to work borders falling away when you hold a globally recognised qualifications.”

Boston City Campus (Boston) is recognised and awarded accreditation as an Independent Higher Education Institution with the British Accreditation Council (BAC). The BAC is recognised globally as an influential voice on standards and quality for the education sector. Boston is a candidate for the accreditation of specific programmes by the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programmes (ACBSP).

Watch the informational video here…

Or visit www.boston.co.za or call 011 551 2000 to find our more.

Do we need a Degree?

Is a degree a stamp of job security?

The future of work won’t be only about degrees, experience or status – it will be about job skills and interpersonal skills.  What do the stats tell us? According to Ari Katz, CEO of Boston City Campus, an American survey results show that 93 percent of freelancers with a four-year degree say skills training was useful versus 79 percent who say their higher education was useful to the work they do now. Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school will end up in jobs that don’t yet exist,(World Economic Forum). For all graduates and employees, it means that we need to investigate new skills in all industries such as can be found in the Boston occupational and information technology offerings.

Katz says that entrepreneurs have a head start as they put more value on skills training.  In addition, entrepreneurs are more likely to participate in lifelong learning.

Rapid technological change, combined with rising education costs, have made our traditional higher-education system an increasingly difficult path for students to afford and manage.

Degrees are still considered stamps of professional competency. They tend however to raise expectations of the employee when he reaches the workplace, and herein arises the myth of no work for graduates. Katz explains, “There is a tendency for graduates to turn down a job or leave when asked to complete or participate in jobs that they consider ‘menial’ or ‘labour-intensive’.  Degrees also tend to create a false sense of security, perpetuating the illusion that work — and the knowledge it requires — is static”.

A World Economic Forum report found that “in many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.” “What does this mean for us?” says Katz? It means we have to adopt the concept of lifelong learning – whether we are doctors, bookkeepers or IT technicians”.

It is therefore imperative that we encourage more upskilling options to thrive without our current overreliance on degrees as proof of ability. All people who hope to be employed or who are already employed need to upskill in the 4th Industrial revolution thinking.

Katz maintains that the future of work is about flexibility and adaptability, about willingness to learn and grow. And no one profession can ever insulate us from the unpredictability of technological progression and disruption.

Jobs website Glassdoor listed “15 more companies that no longer require a degree,” including tech giants such as Apple, IBM, and Google. “Increasingly,” Glassdoor reported, “there are many companies offering well-paying jobs to those with non-traditional education or a high-school diploma.”

New non-traditional education options are found freely on the internet. While campus students used to be focused on a particular profession, they have now broadened demand and understanding that they need to operate in a free market economy with strong competition. To remain competitive they must be able to compete on many levels. They need an understanding of books and accounting, even if they are creatives. A recent article quoted a dad who earns extra working as a DJ by night. Not only that, he has designed outerwear that promotes his DJ brand as well as serves as an additional source of income. We need to be open to new ideas, lateral thinking, creativity, but still with an understanding of the business knowledge that a degree gives us, as well as the doors that it will open. Often laser-focused on the most in-demand skills, would-be students can now enrol in campus-based, project-focused institutions, or online programs such as e-learning sites like Boston Connect.

The fastest-growing segment of the workforce — freelancers such as the Dad above— have realized more than most that education doesn’t stop. It’s a lifelong process.

 

Visit www.boston.co.za or www.bostonconnect.co.za