Sun | Jan 19, 2020

Ainsley Brown | EXED postgrad students on the cutting edge with logistics projects - Pt III

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2019 | 12:00 AM


"The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways." - Robert Greene

I teach. And I hope my students learn. I will admit that teaching is not my profession, but it is a deeply held passion. Another passion of mine is Jamaica's development into a logistics- centred economy and logistics hub. And being an adjunct lecturer of international logistics in the postgrad programme at Excelsior Community College, in Kingston, Jamaica, allows me to combine both passions - each being mutually reinforcing.

I like to give my students a certain degree of autonomy. It not only keeps things fresh and interesting, but creates a learning environment much more akin to the work world, especially in the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution, where self-direction and accountability are not only the order of the day but sought after skills.

I especially like to give my students a certain degree of autonomy to shape their major assignment. It is not so much about outside-of-the-box thinking because whether you are inside or outside of the box there is still a box. What I want to equip my students with is to design and build their own box and then decide for themselves if they want to be inside or outside the box.

The focus here is,as Taylor Pearson in 'The OODA Loop: How to Turn Uncertainty Into Opportunity', "Instead of giving others plans, you give them objectives, a schwerpunkt, and let them figure out how to get there. This both gives them a greater sense of ownership and empowers them to be flexible with trying different approaches".

The word 'schwerpunkt' is German and literally translates as 'centre of gravity or emphasis' but is best understood as the focus or the main priority.'

The assignments, in giving the students a schwerpunkt allowed them to demonstrate practical solutions to real-world problems, often using Jamaica as a stage for doing so.

For their assignments, they are treated like future logistics managers and are assigned to master a new digital platform, digital communication techniques and research a new or emerging area in logistics and supply-chain management. The students are, in essence, forced to connect dots they didn't even know existed.

Some of the areas students covered were:

1 Online infographics: Graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. Using Infogram, "a data visualisation company that helps people create charts, infographics, maps and reports" students developed infographs explaining the shipping industry.

2 Story maps: using maps to tell a story. Using StoryMapJS, "a free tool to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events", students developed story maps on sustainable logistics.

3 Mobile phone apps: Using Mobincube, "a website where ordinary people, just like you, can create compelling mobile apps without the need of having any idea about software development", students designed apps to educate and inform users about the exciting world of logistics.

4 Creating a responsive web page: An online document using text, images, and video which can be displayed in a web browser. Using the Adobe Spark Page , "a free online and mobile graphic-design app", students explained the impact of bBlockchain technology on an industry of their choosing.

5 Online mind maps: a visual form of documentation that offers an overview of a topic and its complex information. Using GoConqr, "a platform for digital learning content", students developed market intelligence reports on a markets and a product within a value chain that Jamaica has an opportunity to exploit and grow exports.

6 Interactive web page: an online interactive document using text, images, and video which can be displayed in a web browser. Using Apester: which "is leading the paradigm shift in digital content, from the text-based web to the post-text, visual-first Internet", students explain Jamaica's logistics-centred economy and explored current and future business opportunities.

What will I do next? Who knows. However, what I do know is that logistics matters, Jamaica matters, and most of all, the students matter. What I also know, from my interaction with my students at Excelsior Community College, is that Jamaica's future is bright indeed.

What I also know is that I will continue to stretch my students and have them create new possibilities for themselves in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

"The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways." (Robert Greene).

In responding to the Fourth Industrial Revolution with our logistics-centred economy, our collective individual futures are well within our own hands.

- Ainsley Brown is the regulatory, trade and monitoring director at Jamaica's Special Economic Zone Authority and an adjunct lecturer at the Caribbean Maritime University and Excelsior Community College.