Section 3. Lifewide learning
Welcome to the path of lifewide learning
Leena Koskinen, Aalto University
Lifewide learning is about learning to learn
The changing nature of work requires the continuous updating of skills. A university degree is not the beginning or the end point; rather, it is part of a learning continuum. Old methods and completed degrees alone are no longer enough. Instead, everyone of working age can benefit from continually updating, complementing, and expanding their skills. It is not as much a question of fostering individual skills as learning to learn and adapting to change.
Lifewide learning covers the whole spectrum of formal, non-formal, and informal learning
Lifewide learning, continuous learning, and lifelong learning all describe a lifetime of learning. These terms are based on the learning perspective in education policy as outlined in the 1990s. It is a view that describes an ecosystem of learning that can be independent of time and place, with many providers of learning and links to society, business, and individuals. Lifelong learning aims to cover the whole spectrum of formal, non-formal, and informal learning.
Lifelong learning aims to play an important role in promoting employment, economic development, democracy, and social cohesion. Three forms of lifewide learning have been identified, which broaden our understanding of learning. These are formal, non-formal, and informal learning.
Formal learning is always goal-oriented, structured, and usually provided by an educational organization. The key feature of this form of learning is that it occurs in the context of goal-oriented education and training, leading to a socially recognized qualification. Moreover, the training is formally recognized, and a certificate or diploma is awarded.
Non-formal learning environments include museums, libraries, science centres, and community colleges. They generally provide structured training with defined objectives, time, and place, learning support, and guidance. Non-formal education can also take the form of continuing education. Non-formal learning can range from highly goal-oriented activities to informal, incidental learning.
Informal learning refers to learning that occurs in life and at work. It is often incidental, as if by accident. Informal learning generally concerns learning activities that are not designed as actual learning events. However, informal learning can also be planned and purposeful. Often, informal learning occurs in various work and leisure communities. It is also often referred to as experiential learning.
Learning is the future of work and curiosity is a superpower
In a changing world, forerunners are those who have harnessed curiosity as their superpower. Such people are passionate about continuous learning in their daily life and have grasped the permanence of change and its impact on their work.
According to a 2018 report by the World Economic Forum, the skills of the future include innovativeness, active learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. They all require curiosity, excellent learning skills, and the ability to communicate, question, switch between viewpoints, and make things happen, all complemented by a desire for lifelong learning.
We no longer hold the same job for years or decades. In the world of continuous learning, our work, studies, and career transitions overlap. In the global labour market, there is a demand for continually updated expertise. According to Technology Industries of Finland, in Finland alone, some 60 per cent of new recruits hired by companies require a higher education degree or corresponding competencies. These are competencies that you can acquire at any point in your life.
Another important factor is to identify your learning style and to approach uncertainty without fear. When nothing is set in stone, everything is possible. People who cope with change well are individuals who recognise their potential and understand what they can learn from their prior experiences and how to apply their competencies to new situations. As the saying goes, learning is the future of work.
We are shifting from single-track career ladders to lifelong learning, characterized by branching, multi-track careers where learning continues throughout life. In careers like these, work and learning are a seamless part of daily life, and career transition is the rule rather than the exception.
Build your own learning path – Aalto University’s lifewide learning portfolio will help you recognize your learning needs
The world is changing at such a fast pace that none of us knows what information and skills we will require in a couple of years. Professions, job descriptions, and ways of working will change. Some professions will disappear while new ones will emerge.
Aalto University’s lifewide learning portfolio will help you recognize your learning needs and answer them without being enrolled in an educational institution. Select a solution that suits you, ranging from individual courses to full degree programmes – all based on the latest research in each field. We will help you stay at the leading edge of development, securing your position at the forefront of your field.
References and further reading
The educational policy view of learning, which emerged in the 1990s, refers to a learning process that continues throughout a person’s life (see, e.g., Delors Commission 1996; London 2012).
Three forms of lifelong learning; see Informal learning (https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/project-result-content/c1a24ed0-dafc-4cc4-b006-62e9be16fd30/Lifelong%20Learning%20Activities.pdf, LIFELONG LEARNING ELEMENTS)
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Last modified: Wednesday, 29 March 2023, 11:34 AM