Lifelong Learning and the Evolution of Education
This article is a response to a piece by littleBits founder, Ayah Bdeir.
Lifelong learning stands as one of the core goals for us at The Portal. Since the job market is incredibly dynamic, evolving in conjunction with society and technology, teaching students the information and skills that are only relevant to a specific job that exists today will only set them up for a finite career path. There are, after all, no reliable ways to predict what sorts of jobs the future will bring.
Besides feeling inadequately prepared to teach students the skills for the jobs of the future, we seem to be having a problem teaching students the skills that they need for jobs that exist now. New graduates and young adults are still facing a huge job placement and skills gap issue (one of the articles we mentioned before). They haven’t been adequately prepared for what the market is demanding.
Part of the problem does lie within the educational system, but the WEF’s suggestion to completely redesign the educational system can’t come fast enough. This doesn’t mean that this is an impossible idea, but public education systems typically have a long trajectory of institutional change and reform. This kind of large-scale change and reform would be ideal, changes will not be felt day-to-day in the short-term.
So how do we address the issue of preparing people for jobs along with developing traits such as curiosity, creativity, and empathy that will encourage them to be lifelong learners?
Alternatives that support educational ecosystems. We mentioned some of these in our previous article, so we won’t re-list them here, but we need to look for ways to complement and enhance the knowledge that students get in school. Programs should be made available that will help people develop new skills or get them to learn and explore the way that they want.
Platforms to collaborate. Students need to be able to develop not only their technical skills, but also their soft skills. Working within a team is one of the best ways for people to acquire the knowledge they need to know, and how to present this information to other people.
Real-world learning. Through all our iterative models of operation, we’ve found that the best way to prepare someone for a job is to put them into a real-world work environment where the job is real, the stakes are real, and the skills they’re using are the ones that they need. It’s one thing to take a course and glean some theoretical knowledge, but this needs to be put into action. Online and offline learning need to be blended, and brought together. This way, we can still fulfill the short-term job placement issue while taking the steps toward lifelong learning.