Technology is transforming how we learn, making education more accessible and opening up new routes of collaboration for communities who previously may have been overlooked by traditional education models.
Of course, technology is just a vehicle for learning – but what it enables, and the untapped skills and experience it can bring into the workforce, is striking.
New modes of learning are being tried and tested all around the world every day; each, of course, has its own unique benefits and goals. But what they all have in common is a focus on encouraging people to take learning into their own hands and retain a sense of curiosity when it comes to life-long learning. Here’s how learning is changing for the future.
Establishing a growth mindset
It’s hard to know exactly what we’ll need to know in the future. Machine learning, AI, and coding are certainly the buzzwords of today – but no one can truly claim to know exactly what skills will be needed in 20 years’ time. In fact, these skills might not even exist yet.
Adaptability has always been a key role in workplace success, but it seems that, now more than ever, our careers require us to be constantly evolving. This might seem like a scary thought at first. But curiosity – trying, failing, and learning from it – has always been key in personal and professional development.
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls this having a “growth” mindset (as opposed to “fixed”). And if you want to stay current in the future of work, you need to have one. In her words, “The perspective of a fixed mindset is that failure is evidence of a lack of intelligence, while the growth mindset embraces the challenges and setbacks along the way and continues to find a solution.”
What that means, in short, is that employees need to know how to manage both stress and other people; how to be resilient and move forward when something goes wrong; and, last but not least, how to remain focused on progress even if this includes failure along the way.
Building future thinking into organisations
It sounds fairly straightforward – but trying to introduce a ‘growth mindset’ at an organisational level is easier said than done.
One way in which organisations can work towards this is to ensure that their learning culture is geared towards every demographic in the workforce, not just new starters. That’s particularly pertinent given there are now 4 or 5 different generations in the workforce at once – all of whom have their own unique learning needs.
The learning programme at Southern New Hampshire University is a recent example of how effective a tailored approach to learning for different ages can be. After taking on board the recommendations of academic Clayton Christensen, the school introduced online-learning experiences designed to open up demand from non-traditional students who were considering going back to school at different stages in life: working adults, students far beyond the borders of New Hampshire, as well as late-stage career changers. In just a few years, the new programme transformed a small New England institution into the fastest-growing not-for-profit online educator in the country – and one of the biggest.
This approach works because it takes into account the reasons behind why people are choosing to learn, and tailors the offer and access requirements to suit their needs. It opens up the workforce to people who may have been previously overlooked and means they can bring their skills and experience to bear in new and changing job roles – opening up talent pools for organisations looking to keep ahead of the competition.
With so much change on the horizon, we need to be ready for what’s to come – even if we don’t know what it is yet. Adopting a growth mindset can ensure success not just in the now but for years to come.