Director Unimenta
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Future of learning
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Learning futures: our brave new world of learning

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16th Nov 2016
Director Unimenta
Columnist
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We are living and working in a technologically connected, digital and globalised world. Yet it often feels as if the world of education has not caught up with this reality.

Education and learning is still being delivered in a very traditional mode, especially when we look at universities and how young people access and receive higher education.

The world young people are going to be working in and indeed the one that all of us now work in is global, multidisciplinary, massively networked, and hyper complex.

Many industries and individualized career roles are facing major uphill battles because change is so ferocious and traditional degree and other training approaches are not able to keep up.

The boundaries of having just “one” role in a career is eroding: skills and knowledge across disciplines is becoming more evident and necessary.

The end of 'knowledge bearers'

Lecturers and professors will not necessarily be able to continue to be “bearers of knowledge”. The future of learning means that teachers, trainers and professors all become part of the learning cycle themselves.

Unbundling of degrees is gaining traction as an approach to actually get multidisciplinary education into practice.

Not only that, we are all going to be living for much longer and this means life-long learning and maybe a multi-stage career which sees us taking on different disciplines and much more of a portfolio or ‘gig’ approach to work.

So learning needs to happen on a continuous basis and involve much more autonomy on behalf of the learner and a facilitative and curious approach on behalf of the “teacher”.

Learning happens every day all around us and is experiential in nature. Learning is virtual and collaborative and can now happen any time and anywhere.

The nature of 'flipped classrooms'

Traditional teaching pedagogies are ripe for disruption, and it’s already started with the “flipped classrooms.”

Instead of a professor standing in front of a classroom, students go to a class for individual mentoring, coaching, and synthesizing.

The “information download” of a lecture is delivered via video and virtual networks. Students come to class prepared with the information and will dig deeper with a teacher and their fellow students in person.

At the same time, more than just flipped classrooms are needed—whole universities should be flipped for the purpose of building community and growing experience.

At the same time, because we are living longer there is an argument that the traditional time of higher education should continue for longer so that it can open up more of an exploratory phase which could include studying but also traveling and working in other countries studying the way different cultures work and live.

This period could take place over a 10 – 15 year period and would mean young adults not necessarily following a traditional trajectory of “settling” and building up a home and “assets” – in this country the average age of buying a home has got higher and higher so why not use this period to instead build up a bank of self-knowledge and understanding?

It will become challenging to measure learning effectively, especially when it comes to self-knowledge, self-awareness and learning.

Doing this would enrich lives in a very different way and provide a much more multi-faceted approach to learning.

The rise of micro-credentials

It’s also becoming popular now to work towards micro-credentials.

Unbundling of degrees is gaining traction as an approach to actually get multidisciplinary education into practice.

Instead of requisites toward one certain BA, BS, or MBA degree, there’s “micro credentialing” and earning individual badges for micro degrees as you learn.

At the end, all of the micro credentials and micro degrees might add up to a BA, but you would clearly see on the transcript everything that was achieved—problem-solving abilities in practice across fields, critical thinking, software competency, and more.

Because we are learning and will continue to learn anywhere and everywhere it will become more challenging to measure that learning effectively especially when it comes to self-knowledge, self-awareness and learning many different skills across different disciplines and life experiences.

Just as we now have e-portfolios to capture work-based learning and practical qualifications we will also need to integrate capturing other types of learning and a way of earning credits from experiential learning and life experiences which are just as recognized as traditional qualifications.

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