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Life-long learners

In this article, Dr Chie Adachi discusses life-long, life-wide learning.
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In response to the changing world of work, life-long, life-wide learning is one of the ways we prepare for it.

Think back to the three learners we met earlier — Susanna, Jorge and Mei.

While they each have different reasons for learning online, they all leverage digital learning in ways common to life-long learners.

Characteristics of life-long learners

Life-long learners are characterised by the following (which are also features of andragogy):

  • a commitment to continuous learning over their life span
  • are self-motivated and self-directed in their learning
  • driven by (personal and professional) growth and development.

With the affordances of technology, digital learning breaks down geographical, social and economic barriers, bringing with it new and various opportunities for life-long learners like Susanna, Jorge and Mei.

Empowering professional learning

As we saw with Susanna, on-the-job learning and development opportunities are widely celebrated as a response to the changing social and economic landscape we explored in the previous step.

In today’s society, many organisations offer their own in-house professional development programs and training specific to their organisational needs. They may also offer access to courses through subscriptions to online education providers such as Linkedin Learning. 1

In turn, these opportunities provide pathways for recognising employee development across their careers.

Case study: micro-credentials

Another way of gaining recognition for professional learning is through micro-credentials.

Micro-credentials are signals that warrant learning or validate capabilities and are an emerging way to recognise and reward life-long learning.

For example, Deakin now offers professional practice credentials to provide ‘skill specific certifications that allow organisations to have their employees’ capabilities independently verified’.

In doing so, they enable both employers and employees to ensure their workforce skills remain ‘up-to-date in an increasingly changing and competitive world’.

Digital micro-credentials are offered and assessed completely online at a significantly more competitive price point when compared to traditional macro-credentials or qualifications such as full university degrees.

Some of the professional-practice skills and capabilities recognised by education institutions (like Deakin) via micro-credentials include:

  • employability (e.g. communication, critical thinking and problem solving)
  • leadership (e.g. adaptive mindsets, driving strategic results and empowering others)
  • technical knowledge (e.g. content marketing, customer experience and risk management).

Against a backdrop where artificial intelligence (AI) is replacing low-skilled jobs with automation at an increasing rate, the need for further, life-long and adult learning to develop these transferable skills is critical for workers in order to remain competitive in the rapidly changing world of work.

Your task

Reflect on any professional development opportunities you’ve undertaken recently.

What were they and how did they help you with your professional development and personal growth? What role (if any) did digital learning play in these?

Post your thoughts in the comments as well as reflecting on and engaging with the contributions of other learners.

  1. In August 2019 became LinkedinLearning 

© Deakin University
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