Islamic Economics and Islamic Finance as subjects are not too old. Among many challenges concerning curriculum development, insufficient qualified educators in the field, lack of sufficient research and funding, it is hard to stop for a moment and take a look forward to see what the future holds for Islamic Finance education.
We are living at a time of dramatic shifts. Changes in socio-political-economic environments, change in consumer psychologies, change and developments of new technologies, change in perceptions about how we see the world around us, are all part of the equation to formulate understanding of a new reality that is going to shape the future of any education. Islamic Economics and Finance as a discipline is no different.
We have analyzed and gathered 10 educational trends that are going to substantially affect, challenge and eventually shape the future of Islamic Economics and Finance educational efforts.
1. Digital Literacy
Long gone are the days where literacy only meant learning to read and write with pencil and paper or chalk and blackboard, now we are living in a time of digital literacy where technology plays a significant part of our education. Children are fast adapting to new ways of learning and communicating. The upward sloping trend in digital literacy has been driving the way corporations work, followed by universities and colleges, and coming down to K-12 schools.
Computers are no longer new tools in the era of mobile devices and their apps. Islamic Economics and Finance education is still largely dependent on the traditional way of teaching at universities and institutions and must adapt to new realities of digital generation sooner or later.
2. Questioning Existing Standards
Michael Hooker in his ‘Transformation of Higher Education’ wrote “Where is the proof that 120 credit hours makes an educated person? What does the baccalaureate degree certify? ……..Why did we decide that mastery of the subject was less important than the time spent in the classroom?”
Quite thought provoking isn’t it? May be the answer lies in the statement by Ken Robinson in his famous TED talk, ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ – “The problem is that the current system of education was designed and conceived and structured for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution.”
The consequential result as a paradigm shift in the way we learn is innovation of something like Khan Academy followed by MOOCs. This is going to challenge the entire education industry and that is why we see major universities in the USA like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, University of California, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania and numerous others have been joining the MOOC developments. There is no presence of Islamic Economics and Finance yet in these new developments, eventually the concept of MOOC will trend down and a new idea will emerge, but the total absence or late adaptation is not an inspiring sign for the field of education that preaches a growing industry demand.
3. The Flipped Model
Khan Academy’s popularity gave rise to the concept of flipped classroom or a flipped model of education where the homework is done at class and the lectures are followed at home in a video format. This concept has been a revolutionary one in K-12 education with proven effectiveness in individual learning progress, and has proven a success in higher education as well. Scott Freeman from University of Washington in Seatle flipped his biology class that resulted in a reduction of failure rate from 17% to 4%. Physics instructors at British Columbia University in Vancuver, Canada flipped their classrooms as experiment and found that student attendance increased by 20% and classroom engagement increased by 40%.
The 1:1 attention during following the lectures at home increases student focus which is a precursor to master a subject which is much needed to enjoy what is being learned. It sounds like common sense, but we have been so used to follow existing education system that the conventional method was never questioned to such an extent until Salman Khan showed something different with a single creative initiative.
The question is: What is the position of Islamic Economics and Finance education in the wake of this revolutionary flipped classroom model?
4. Anytime-Anywhere Attitude
In the history of mankind, the world population has never been in such a mobile state as it is now. We are either physically on-the-go or in a mental on-the-go state most of our time during a day. It is much more applicable to the generation that is growing up in this on-the-go world. ‘Convenience’ is a critical keyword in the world consumer market and nothing can be more convenient for an on-the-go population than ‘Anytime – Anywhere’ access of products or services. In the knowledge economy where knowledge, information, and education are lucrative products, ‘anytime, anywhere’ availability beats any static mode of service with equal value in competition. The case for Islamic Economics and Finance education is no different and we are seeing more and more online educational efforts in this field which will not only grow but will have significant impact in creating pool of human resources for the industry.
5. Consumer Driven, Freedom of Choice
There was a time when someone who wants to buy a car would go to a dealer and the savvy sales person would explain every details before handing over the key for a test drive. The helpless buyer would not have much opportunity to gather car related knowledge other than a few words of mouth from friends and family and the decision to buy specific car would happen after the sales pitch. Long gone are those days. Now the decision takes place way ahead in the process and the moment the buyer walks into the dealer store, the sales executive knows as well all he/she needs to do is to take the buyer to that specific car for test drive. There are exceptions off course, but this is the increasing trend. The point is, due to the availability of information in the wi-fi connected world, consumers have more power now and the sales person is now in a helpless situation. Consumers want to enjoy more freedom of choice and do not want to be dictated on what he/she wants to buy.
If we think about this and try to apply the psychology for Islamic Economics and Finance education, we would realize at least one point – there are too many education providers and everyone say they are the best. Consumers of education however have specific demands and priorities and they do not rely on the marketing pitch of the education providers rather want review, assessment and feedback from 3rd parties. That is why testimonials in marketing are so powerful. Islamic Economics and Finance education providers would need to fast adapt to this trend and continue to show creativity in order to survive in the knowledge economy where consumers enjoy ample freedom of choice.
6. The Social Networking Impact
The point stated above re-confirms the reality due to the impact of social networking in our world. Social media is shaping a global culture of uniformity in a subtle way where community thinking dictates over individual thinking. In another word, ‘one does what everyone else does, and one does not do, what others do not do’ – this is an age old human behavior which has been amplified through social media and reflected on the way consumers buy any idea or product or services. This is not going to go way. Platforms, technology and mode of communication may change over time, but this social networking impact will be vital for propagating the education of Islamic Economics and Finance.
In terms of using social networking tools for education, in a recent study conducted by Pearson says the use of social media in teaching has grown 21.3% from 2012 to 2013. Below are two examples of usage of social media in the teaching process.
[Image Source: Edudemic]
7. Perception of Quality Instructors
There has been a huge cry within Islamic Economics and Finance academia regarding the qualification of instructors and educators. There is no uniform perception on this as with many other areas within the field of education. However very limited research has been done on gauging similar perception from the recipients of education. What do they think as ‘quality instructors’? Obviously the answer will vary significantly from one person to another based on their own ideals, priorities and preferences. The world is going through a phase where the perception of ‘trust’ dominates everything we consume whether in the case of physical products or intangible services such as knowledge. In order to be successful in any cause social or entrepreneurial, trust’ is an essential element. It is no different for propagating the knowledge of Islamic Economics and Finance. In order to build that trust there is no exception in bridging the gaps between ‘Islamic’, ‘Economics’, and ‘Finance’ . This will require substantial initiative in creating an educational framework to bridge these gaps.
8. Laser focused specialization
The educational paradigm in traditional higher learning institutions has been formed by structuring education into primarily three levels of academic programs – bachelor degree, master degree, and PhD. While PhD gives an opportunity to dig deeper and attain mastery over a subject matter in comparatively greater length, for Islamic Finance education it has its own challenges including insufficient quality research supervision, lack of funding, and lengthy time of completion. The results of PhD are often academicians who then turn into research supervisors and instructors. What happens with the results of the research when it comes to Islamic Finance? Publication in Journals? Presentations at Academic Conferences? Disseminating that knowledge in online databases? What’s the next step? What actually happens with the knowledge itself besides sharing?
In our Global Islamic Finance Education Report we found 85% of the educational initiatives in Islamic Finance are geared towards professional development and only 15% potentially contributing towards intellectual development or Research and Innovation. However, how many fruitful results did we see in terms of actual innovation implemented in the industry based on those research output?
The era we are currently living in is the era of laser focused specialization if one is to succeed in his/her life. There is absolutely no other way to succeed in this environment of rough and tough competition. The days of bachelors and masters will be soon gone. PhD may not be gone entirely, but may lose its popularity as other paradigm emerges. Sooner or later it will emerge. Islamic Finance education will have to follow suit.
9. Simulation / Game based learning
The generation that has been growing up playing video games, then computer games, and then virtual mobile app games, it is not a wonder that game based learning would prove itself effective to that generation as a teaching method. Good or bad, its effectiveness in engaging and motivating in the learning process is true. This is why educational institutions now use game based teaching models to teach not only the facts and theories, but also the how and whys. Simulation techniques have been used for training in selective industries like aircraft, but now those techniques can be used in any kind of educational environment due to the comparatively inexpensive ways of creating game based educational applications. Islamic Finance industry needs highly creative talent pool and one way of nurturing creativity is through increasing motivation. In today’s world where average population do not get engaged or motivated easily with traditional in class lectures, game based learning models may be explored to nurture next generation human capital for Islamic Finance industry.
[Image Source: www.newmedia.org]
This trend is probably going to affect the higher education industry significantly in coming years. Traditionally instructors of higher learning must go through universities or reputable higher learning organizations to build their career and teach for sustaining a steady income source while fulfilling their passion of teaching. Today, with advanced technology and web based platforms, anyone can teach masses without going through brick and mortar organizations that dictate the policies and materials of his/her teaching. One great example for this is Udemy where anyone can teach topics in their area of expertise and generate revenue from selling their courses. Online teaching platforms like Udemy gives the flexibility and freedom to the instructors like entrepreneurs and hence the trend of teacherpreneurs (teacher+entrepreneur) is growing. This model gives learners freedom to choose courses without going through any requirements like traditional organizational policies has set up. These platforms also fulfill the anytime, anywhere convenience needs. For Islamic Finance, this is something that has not been explored, not as of yet.
Author: Sadia Karim, Founder & CEO, Yurizk
“…Where is the proof that 120 credit hours makes an educated person? What does the baccalaureate degree certify? ……..Why did we decide that mastery of the subject was less important than the time spent in the classroom?..” (Hooker, 1997).
“The problem is that the current system of education was designed and conceived and structured for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution.”
(Ken Robinson, 2010)