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Education Opinion

Learning for Life: New Skills for New Jobs

By Tom Vander Ark — August 29, 2016 3 min read
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Predicting the future is challenging, particularly when there is ample evidence that we don’t really understand the world we live in.

From his post in Moscow, Pavel Luksha peers into the future and attempts to understand how the world will change over the next 20 years, determine how that will affect our lives and work, predict what skills and knowledge will be required and explain how we can acquire these skills.

With the benefit of a worldwide network of superstar education advisors, Luksha’s Global Education Futures has developed a thoughtful and optimistic view of the future; one that is a bit different in language and tone than the U.S. dialog.

During his summer advisory call, Pavel discussed four trends reshaping the global opportunity set.

The GEF team reads everything out there on possible futures and contemplates the alteration of the old or rise of the new. They understand the elements of transformation (below left) but lean toward an emergent view of the future (below right).

Based on their trend analysis and global conversations, GEF outlines skills required in the future for employability and successful career-building as well as citizenship and quality of personal life.

GEF indicts the current educational model as obsolete, “it prepares people for skills of the past, not skills of the future!”

We cannot teach people to be creative by giving them standard tasks We cannot teach people to be collaborative by putting them in competition against each other We cannot teach people to be lifelong learners if we deprive them of self-exploration and courage to learn, if we blame them for mistakes We cannot teach people to be empathic / emotionally intelligent by removing emotion and focusing on cognitive abilities only We cannot teach people to use IT property if we remove it from the school We cannot teach people to be mindful if we are not mindful.

Transition to Lifelong Learning
Given the speed of change, there is no way to fully prepare for it in secondary and tertiary education, “Education is not about getting a professional skill, it is about living through your life.”

GEF advocates a lifetime journey of learning, “You need to learn how to learn.” They envision a system of learner-centered lifelong education: locally-situated, globally oriented, intensely personal learning within a community of practice (below).

Key to lifelong education are global online learning platforms (currently including Coursera, edX, Lynda /LinkedIn, Khan Academy) and increasingly deploying AR, AI, and gamification and optimized for mobile + wearable.

Smart Cities
GEF imagines lifelong learning happening everywhere across cities not just schools and universities with communities of interest creating venues of learning around shared interests. Augmented reality will convert any space into a learning place. City navigators will connect people to place-based education opportunities.

They propose five design principles for learning environments:

Transition from competitive to collaborative learning processes Focus on self-development and self-guidance, collaborative design of learning process and content to be explored Personalized learning trajectory that combines virtual environments, practice-based learning in real-life settings, and peer-based learning (face-to-face and online) with mentors & community Learning built around real-life problems and challenges rather than subjects Environment for physical exercises and interaction, emotional / artistic interaction

These design principles suggest a holistic approach teaching including a collaborative and connected pedagogy in a blended project-based environment with expertise in mentorship, gamification and entrepreneurship.

From Here to There
How do we transition from industrial education systems to dynamic learning ecosystems? GEF sees interdependent locked-in arrangements (e.g. degree, certification, accreditation) as a big blockage. But it’s not a unique challenge--energy, transportation, and healthcare will also make the transition to a more personalized, networked, dynamic delivery system.

“Only cultivation of self-guided learning ability will contribute to long-term social resilience of our civilization; the priority is to increase this share substantially, and within not more than one generation. This seems to be the central challenge of transformation.” GEF sees the “massification of self-guided learning” as one of the key challenges of our time.

GEF recommends getting connected to bridge-builders: people that have a vision of the future and act accordingly. Take over roles that are not taken by existing system (summer schools, startup accelerators) and “Don’t expect governments or business to tell you what to do -most often they anchor the past, not build the future. Be proactive in building your own part of the bridge.”

In the new networked economy, ecosystems are built around platforms that serve as entry points and integrate experiences. In education integrators “must become long-term providers of personalized learning trajectories,” according to GEF. Managing this lifelong learning relationship will include learning experiences, career advancement, personal development, and games--think Udemy, Linkedin, Happify and Xbox.

GEF offers this closing advice: practice future now. Be a player, not a spectator. Contribute to the change and transformation.

For more, see:

  • 20 Year Forecast: Broader Aims, Students at the Center
  • 8 Learning Platform Observations, 8 Startup Signals
  • Who Will Own the Lifelong Learning Relationship?
  • The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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