Research shows that today’s world is experiencing shifts that are likely to reshape the future landscape of our society; changes which affect how individuals learn and what it is that they should be learning.
These shifts are steered by “drivers”. There are a group of drivers considered to be the most important and relevant to future work skills and learning. These drivers are found within today’s phenomena of demographics, globalization and technology, i.e.:
- Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning;
- Workplace automation pushes human workers out of repetitive tasks;
- Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system;
- New communication tools require new media literacies;
- Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation;
- Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability in the center of organizational operations.
However, the shifts brought about by these drivers pose specific challenges to society, more specifically to individuals (learners), how they learn and what they should be learning. There are three main challenges affecting the learning and training world:
- Promoting a rapid and more fluent entrance to the labor market and job-placement for the workers of the new generation;
- Keeping up with the rapid pace of change;
- Focusing on permanent re-skilling to enable learners to keep their competences updated lifelong.
Today’s learners have to face these challenges, and must be well equipped with the right tools (skills) to surpass them. We must be able to cultivate within our learners the right skills for a successful future.
The Skills of Tomorrow
A specific set of skills are vital to surpass the challenges that today’s society poses for learners trying to, not only learn but, enter and succeed in the labor market. Ten important skills have been identified, which can be classified into three different groups:
- Global skills: Transdisciplinarity; and cross-cultural competency.
- Cognitive skills: Sense making & critical thinking; design mindset; social intelligence; computational thinking; novel & adaptive thinking; and cognitive load management.
- Technological skills: New media literacy; and virtual collaboration.
However, how do we make sure that our learners gain these skills from learning courses? How can we cultivate these skills within our learners?
Research shows that the best way to foster learning today depends on current trends that, with influence from the drivers of change, have foster new (and more effective) ways of learning.
Personalisation, collaboration and informalisation will be at the core of learning in the future. These trends are not new in the learning and training world, but they will become the central guiding principles for organizing learning and training. Moreover, ICTs will continue to be, and become stronger, conductors of learning and training in accordance to the new trends.
New Ways of Learning
The skills that our learners need in order to surpass the challenges can be cultivated (more effectively) through the new ways of learning, which are in harmony with the current trends mentioned above. These new ways of learning are:
- Adult-centered: Teaching and training methodologies must take into consideration adult learning principles. Methodologies must be active, constructive, practical, hands-on, motivating, engaging, tailor-made and targeted for adult learners.
- Social: Teaching and training methodologies must include community oriented activities that encourage peer-to-peer learning, sharing and collaboration.
- Lifelong: Learning and training opportunities must be ready anywhere, anytime. Delivery modalities, whether virtual or face-to-face, must be blended, thus providing learners with various methods and approaches aiming to enhance their continuous learning experience when they choose and need.
Today’s learners are faced with challenges brought by the drivers of change (demographics, globalisation, and technology). Learning and training opportunities must equip learners with the right skills in order to empower them to surpass these challenges. To cultivate these skills within our learners in a more effective and efficient way, our training courses must:
- Include more hands-on and practical (scenario-based) activities;
- Include motivating, engaging and dynamic activities;
- Include more activities that require interaction and exchanges amongst peers;
- Include problem-solving (realistic) tasks that foster critical, rapid, creative and adaptive thinking;
- Enhance flexibility for learners in the learning process;
- Comprise content that is based on transdiciplinarity;
- Comprise content that is intercultural;
- Make strategic use of new media tools.
Click here to download the Future of Learning Mind Map.
Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute, 2011, Future Work Skills 2020, Institute for the Future, California.
The Joint Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, 2011, The Future of Learning: Preparing for Change, Publications Office of the European Union.