Chinese philosopher and politician Guanzi said: ‘If you plan next year, raise corn, if planning the next decade, raise trees, if you plan the future life, educate humans”
As we hurtle towards the new work of work, learning new skills is and will continue to be critical. Lifelong learning and continuous learning are often terms used interchangeably. They can sometimes have slightly different meanings depending on the context.
The term life-long learning is geared more towards the individual level. It refers to someone who makes a long-term, voluntary commitment to learning new skills or acquiring new knowledge. A lifelong learner is someone who incorporates continuous learning as part of their lifestyle.
Lifelong learning is the life-wide, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for not only personal but professional reasons as well. It not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship and individual development but also increases competitiveness and employability. The importance of Lifelong Learning has been increasing for some important reasons. These are increasing life expectancy, increasing the “old-age dependency” ratio, the desire to increase life quality, and trying to keep themselves in good physical and mental condition by humans.
The term continuous learning can also refer to someone who is committed to learning new skills or knowledge but is often used in a more temporary context or formal context
Continuous learning is the process of learning new skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. This can come in many forms, from formal course-taking to casual social learning. It involves self-initiative and taking on challenges.
Continuously updating knowledge or skills can help an employee in both their professional life and personal life for several reasons. Here’s why:
- Developing new skills and knowledge can increase personal performance or competence on the job.
- Additional training, education, or skill development can help achieve goals for those pursuing a career path or wanting to rotate into a new position.
- Pursuing additional learning is also important for those employees who need to obtain or update professional licenses or certifications.
- Spending time to learn a new skill or obtain new knowledge can benefit work performance and influence future promotions or financial incentives.
- Often a person’s interests extend beyond the job they do daily. Pursuing extracurricular interests can lead to insight and developments that open the door to new future opportunities.
What are the challenges of Lifelong learning?
- Lifelong learning can be expensive both in terms of financial costs and can be very time-consuming if the individual doesn’t know how to learn
- Lifelong learning can be exhausting, and the individual may feel disappointed if they are not learning in effective ways
- Sometimes if a person has done a lot of lifelong learning, they could become overqualified and so may find getting a job difficult.
In research conducted by the Future Fit Academy, Learning Agility was found to be in the top five skills individuals will need to remain relevant and add indispensable value in an ever-changing world, and one of the top predictors of success.
Learning Agility has been defined as the willingness and ability to learn from experience and, subsequently, apply that learning to perform successfully under new or first-time conditions.
In a nutshell, learning agility can be described in the following manner:
- Knowing what to do when you do not know what to do.
- Being able to learn something in one situation and apply it in a completely different situation.
- The ability to continually and rapidly learn, unlearn, and relearn mental models and practices from various experiences, people, and sources and to apply that learning in new and changing contexts to achieve desired results.
The question one needs to answer is: Will I rise to the challenge of learning what is required to stay relevant in the future world of work?
Skill obsolescence is something we will all experience. The pandemic has expedited the pace at which some skills become outdated by more than 70 per cent (NewsWeek Magazine September, 2021). To ensure we do not become redundant, we need to commit ourselves to lifetime or life-long learning.
To learn effectively, one needs to understand what has historically been referred to as one’s Learning Style.
While this approach is well-known and common even in corporate learning, there is no evidence suggesting that diagnosing and accommodating learning styles will help learners understand and retain information. New York Magazine reported that the idea of people learning differently depending on their personal preferences and behavioural styles is in fact more relevant.
A recent study by Training Industry (Dr Amy DuVernet) https://www.bizlibrary.com/blog/learning-methods/learning-preferences-versus-learning-styles/ covered learning preferences to increase comprehension and retention of information, and the results suggest these are worth the attention of trainers and educators.
Learning preferences refer to how much a learner prefers certain educational modalities over others, such as watching a video online vs. in-person instruction. They differ from learning styles, because they don’t hinge on a learner needing all training to be delivered through one sense- visual, auditory, or kinesthetic- to learn best. Rather, the research suggests that learners retain different types of training best through different delivery methods, so providing multiple modalities will be most effective for learning retention
The deeply engaged learner is what all people should strive to be. Highly engaged learners are their own teachers, inherently. They may have teachers and instructors, but the truth is that they drive most of their own learning. They ask deep questions about topics, seek to learn more about the underlying material, and engage with others. They seek to learn using a diverse approach, including asking open-ended questions that lead to greater debate about a topic. When a person is highly engaged, they are far more likely to remember what they learn.
Research by Maryellen Weimer (PhD) has shown that knowing one’s learning preferences is key to opening the door to a life of learning. As individuals learn and understand their learning selves, they will have a greater desire to acquire more knowledge. They will be actively involved in the learning process. There will be greater success in learning. Self-esteem improves. Motivation increases. Autonomy and a sense of control are derived.
LearnSmartly is a unique, innovative tool that allows one to become an ‘intelligent learner’
Psychological Insights can provide valuable insight into Learning Preferences, thereby helping you choose learning strategies that best suit your unique motivations, manner of processing information, and communication style
- Gain a better understanding of your chosen field of learning.
- Maximise the time spent on your learning journey.
- Reach your learning goals.
- Master difficult areas of learning.
We all have different learning preferences, and, as result, we focus on different ways of receiving, processing, storing, and retrieving whatever material we need to learn. This has implications for our effectiveness as lifelong learners.
We may encounter teaching styles or modalities that are not aligned with our learning preferences. It’s then that we need to take steps to increase our ability to be successful in these learning interventions.
Your LearnSmartly assessment will allow you to;
- Become a more self-aware, self-directed, proactive learner leveraging the best way to learn.
- Retain and apply learning more effectively and efficiently
- Improve personal mastery and resilience in the context of learning
The LearnSmartly assessment is a critical first step in becoming a future fit life long learner
Dr Eric Albertini (PhD) is the founder and CEO of the Future Fit Academy and a partner of Learnsmartly
- Learning Agility: The New Requirement for Leadership Success.
- Tips for Improving Your Learning Agility. Center for Creative Leadership. https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/tips-for-improving-your-learning-agility/
- The Organisational X-Factor: Learning Agility. Korn Ferry. https://focus.kornferry.com/leadership-and-talent/the-organisational-x-factor-learning-agility/
- Three steps to become a better life-long learner. https://focus.kornferry.com/leadership-and-talent/learning-agility-3-steps-to-become-a-better-lifelong-learner/
- The pace that skills will become obsolete. https://www.newsweek.com/2021/10/08/pandemic-has-sped-pace-that-some-work-skills-become-obsolete-70-percent-survey-finds-1628468.html