Adult Learning is one of those areas that means so many different things to different people. Lifelong learning is a popular phrase of recent years when referring to individuals remaining up to date with what is needed for them to work in perhaps a succession of different jobs which may or may not be related to one another. But, was it really ever any different?
Those who consciously chose to ‘move on’ or progress have always proactively gone about learning, be it to gain recognised qualifications or specific training, accredited or not. It’s probably fair to say that those drivers will continue to be in place for as long as individuals need to earn a living, in other words, for the foreseeable future and beyond.
So what might the world of learning look like in 30 or 40 years time if we assume there is still an underlying need for people to continually develop in their ‘careers’? Such a leap forward in time is interesting in that the adults undertaking learning will be the sons and daughters of Generation Y, if not the grand-children. So, while their parents will have been used to finding information at the click of a mouse even if they had a traditional school and university education, Generation Y+ will most likely expect any question they have to be answered in detail by what are likely to be incredibly sophisticated search engines of the future. But is this really learning?
Learning is about being able to assimilate information and being able to use it in some way and that will never change. The fact that it’s possible to answer a question even using input from peers in a social network that spans the globe doesn’t really constitute learning unless you process what you’ve gathered.
Part 2 will look at what might characterize the learning environment around the middle of this century.