This coming week sees both the TEL future of learning conference and Ed-Media2011 in Lisbon. Preparing for the former, I’m concentrating on the technology-enhanced future of learning for adults, especially professionals.
The key characteristics of this learner will be:
- An achieved core education (school leaving exam or equivalent)
- Job insecurity leading to
- Job mobility and possibly
- Less reliant on employer-centric learning
- Long working life – possibly formally never ‘to retire’
- A need to keep constantly updated and/or researching in order to be employable
- Anticipation of being able to learn anything they wish, work-related or not.
Whether this learner has a degree at the start of their working life or not is immaterial although a degree (or several) are likely to be collected over the learner’s lifetime. So, what does this person need?
The learner is going to need their own personal learning network (PLN) of mentors, peers, teachers and facilitators but more than this, they are going to need flexibility and ease of access in seeking, developing and testing information. Learning anywhere, anytime has become something of a mantra for those engaged in mobile learning and the technologies for delivery of content are certainly improving but the technology is perhaps the least of the problems as the will is there to develop whatever is needed. The social and political constructs are perhaps more difficult and revolve around access to knowledge and ownership of learning.
Access to journals and academic papers is often expensive and difficult if not enrolled at a university – sometimes you even need to be on campus. As the divide between being at ‘university’ and being ‘at work’ becomes less distinct, this is ridiculous. Some way needs to be found to get free access to all published papers for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Ownership of learning is more complex. As individuals build up complex personal webs of knowledge, some is currently claimed as belonging to their university (e.g. dissertations), some to their employers (company blogs), some to their professional organisations (journal articles), some perhaps to mentors (e.g. learning pathways) and some to the individual. For this individual, mapping and re-accessing all the various items to use in new combinations or to extend into new areas is going to need to become much more straightforward than it is at present. Work-in-progress, rather then published articles, is likely to remain largely private so secure storage accessible whenever and wherever, is also going to be an issue. Ideally, my learning cloud would be secure enough that once I am in it, no further passwords would be needed no matter whether I am drawing information from my university, my place of work or a social networking site.
As a wishlist, this is a small start. Please add thoughts!