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The Future of Learning


The fast pace of technology innovation has changed the way we work, live and play. Naturally, the future of work was impacted and current jobs have been redefined. According to a McKinsey study in the US, 60% of the occupations could have 30% or more of their activities automated by technology.


Future talents must now have multi-disciplinary skills, and be thinkers and makers who can create value rather than just add value. Technology skills are fast becoming core skills essential to perform future jobs.


To develop future-ready talents for the new economy, the world of higher education and adult learning need to be transformed. 


There are three significant issues with our higher education and adult education systems:


First, academic education frontloading at higher learning institutions is no longer practical; with the frequent reskilling needed to stay agile for rapid jobs changes. It is high risk and poor return on investment when the jobs you study for no longer exist by the time you have graduated.


Second, classroom-oriented learning is ineffective and inefficient. Classroom training limits workplace exposure for acquiring work-ready skills. Classroom training is time-invasive as it takes individuals away from work and home.   


Finally, the fragmented education sector, with respective silos for academic & applied pathways, do not provide sufficient flexibility and interoperability for developing thinkers and makers with knowledge and skills.


MOOCs have democratised education by making it available almost free to the masses globally by leveraging on advanced internet technology. However, studies have shown that when education is entirely self-paced and self-driven, the success rate is low, as demonstrated by the high dropout rates.  The one-size-fits-all online learning offered by MOOCs has clearly fallen short on its promise to transform education, particularly for adult learning where tangible skills outcome will be expected.  


The digital revolution offers the perfect technology and environment where learners could be uniquely identified, learning content be specifically presented, and progress can be individually monitored, supported and assessed.  We have the technology that permits individuality again.


Therefore, more than just digitising education for mass delivery using technology, we need to use technology as an enabler to move beyond pure standardisation on the one hand and costly customisation on the other towards the concept of mass customisation to optimise return on adult learning investment.  Ultimately, adult learning need to be individualised, localised and globalised to support an individual’s career progression.


In the past, graduating from a higher education institution marked the point where education stopped and work began. Now, education and work are intertwined in a digital environment where learning is work and work is learning.


Traditional classroom-oriented adult education is inadequate as it delivers poor return on investment for both the individual and the employer.  It is time invasive and delivers limited value to improve individual learners’ career performance and enterprises’ business outcomes.


An adult learning provider would need to change what (topics) they teach, how (method) they teach, when (pace) and where (place) they teach. Instead of being teacher-centric, adult education needs to be employer-centric to deliver relevant job competencies required by the industry. They need to complement classroom training with personalised mentoring for adult learners to apply what they learn at the workplace. To make learning non-invasive to individuals and employers, they need to leverage on advanced education technology and innovative pedagogy for flexible training delivery anytime, anywhere, particularly at the workplace.


In the next article, “Lithan’s Learning Innovations”, we shall discuss how we leveraged on technology to make the future learning available today.


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