As we become immersed in the digital era, novel digital technologies developed across myriad industries have brought about miraculous economic growth. Significant advancements have also been witnessed in education, too, inducing dramatic increases in both competition and opportunities for students, universities and other educational institutions.
Universities are now engaged in grooming students to keep pace with a rapid global evolution. Their tasks include student development and enhancement of greater quality in learning/teaching, research works and educational staff, as well as the creation of an environment that better accommodates digital lifestyles.
Students are a part of the new generation and they are in search of knowledge. As they advance in life, they must cope with rapid changes in future technologies that will also reshape the processes through which they learn to live their lives, to work and to maximise their potential. To transform a university into a portal of linkage between different fields of knowledge, which will facilitate future ways of living, a cooperative educational network between that university and other organisations will be crucial. This portal must have “ecosystem” compatible with the digital world.
The CU NEX Project is a cooperative effort between Chulalongkorn University and KBank that aims to integrate all disciplines of knowledge within the university, as well as that of their partners and the surrounding community, all linked via digital technology. Kasikorn Business-Technology Group (KBTG) serves as a cornerstone for innovation and systems development to create solutions for the management of campus infrastructure, including its students, lecturers and other personnel, as well as communities nearby. This initiative is intended to make Chulalongkorn University a “Digital Lifestyle University”.
CU NEX is a prototype collaboration whose purpose is to upgrade the capabilities of leading Thai universities to achieve international levels of performance. Digital technologies will be adopted across all disciplines of study, as well as facilitate personal lifestyles in the digital era. The project emphasises development in the following three major dimensions:
Every aspect of student lifestyles will be linked via virtual IDs connected to the “CU NEX” mobile app that allows students to search for information about Chulalongkorn University, and it even includes registration, the library, internal transportation and other facility services around campus. To help students brace for the looming cashless society, they will be able to make QR code payments via the app or use their student ID cards to perform those transactions, accumulate reward points and redeem privileges from merchants on campus. The project will make use of the spaces around campus and create “PLEARN Space” as an open area for students to do activities outside their lecture halls such as socialise, conduct research or exchange information.
The capabilities of students and personnel at Chulalongkorn University will be enhanced to better blend with digital lifestyles via varying forms of incubational activities related to digital technology. New areas of investigation will be created to promote innovation between Chulalongkorn University and other institutions via such activities as “TechJam”, “MAPS” and “ChAMP”, with opportunities for students to gain even more knowledge from world-class tech hubs such as Silicon Valley. Such activities are imperative to helping students improve on what they have learned in lecture halls and labs and may even help them to set up their own business start-ups in the global marketplace. KBank will be collaborating with Chulalongkorn University to conduct R&D on Thai “natural language processing”, which will help students to further improve their use of Thai language on and beyond the campus.
A massive volume of Chulalongkorn University’s information will be used to create an individualised learning format. “Data Hub” using Machine Learning Technology will collect a broad array of information on students’ behaviour, interests and special talents. Business Intelligence (BI) algorithms will analyse that information to create the most efficient curricula and activities to match each group of students, and even to each individual, to achieve higher excellence in graduates.
Authorised access restrictions in the Data Hub will provide multiple layers of data protection. Moreover, blockchain technology is another key tool that will be applied to manage important collegiate documentation and optimise efficiency.
The CU NEX project is under constant development with the ultimate goal of not only serving over 50,000 students, lecturers and staff on campus, but also the more than 500,000 “Chula Citizens” in surrounding communities. The CU NEX project will eventually lead to the expansion of the “Digital Lifestyle University” program nationwide with Chulalongkorn University as its core model.
Patchara Samalapa is senior executive vice president, Kasikornbank