We all learn something new every day. In fact, the majority of our most useful skills come from looking up stuff in the heat of things. Think researching a recipe on youtube before a party, using a blog post to figure out how to troubleshoot your smartphone, asking a motor enthusiast friend to help you clean your car’s carburetor and so on. It’s easy to think of these activities as trivial compared to say, a university education. But, in the new world order where skills become obsolete faster than ever before, lifelong learning or the art of acquiring skills just in time is becoming ever more crucial.
Check it out what you will find on this article about lifelong learning:
- Why Traditional Education Just Doesn’t Cut It Anymore
- Lifelong Learning Strategies
- Making Lifelong Learning a Habit
- Continuous Learning is Continuous Improvement
Why Traditional Education Just Doesn’t Cut It Anymore
Even though ed-tech is gaining steam, the traditional education system has various shortcomings too serious to overlook. For starters, the courseware is almost always trailing behind the real world.
Most educational institutes go through an elaborate process to decide what will be taught to a student and what will be left out. Many times, the courseware has to oblige their affiliated university’s model and recommendations which may not have been updated recently.
While the process no doubt ensures that high quality information reaches the students, it also results in a red tape of sorts where the courseware can become trapped in official proceedings, becoming obsolete even before it becomes available.
The highly controlled way in which colleges dispense education may prove to be a disadvantage too. Each person has a preferred way and pace at which they learn best. Since, it’s impossible for a professor to tailor his/her style to each student’s taste, many fall behind.
Another sticking point is the cost of traditional education which causes many students to pile on exorbitant loans that can take over a decade to pay off.
Does this mean that you should drop your plans for that Ivy league university and just learn off of Youtube? Hardly. Rather, it’s best to integrate an education model that inculcates lifelong learning along with formal education. The problem with classroom based education isn’t the knowledge, rather it is the belief that learning ends when you have earned your degree.
In his hit book Learn or Die, Edward Hess states that the increasing pace of globalization and technologies is forcing organizations and individuals to learn faster than ever before and strive for continuous learning to keep up with the times. So, what can you do to include lifelong learning into your routine? Here are a few ideas and methods to try out…
Lifelong Learning Strategies
Lifelong learning can seem intimidating given there is no right or wrong way, a set method to follow or even someone to turn too since you’re now responsible for your own learning. But, if you’re doing any of the things mentioned in paragraph one, then you’re already a lifelong learner. Here are a few ways to turn it into a process you can make it a part of your learning culture…
Start with a list of things you like to learn more on
Or have to to progress higher in your career. Your list can serve as a reminder of things that matter and for ensuring that no one matter ends up consuming your interest totally. This won’t be a to-do list however which you can check-off as you go along so it’s best to have your list in front of you where you can look at it constantly.
Share your learnings with others
A study done by Washington University showed that teaching someone something else greatly speeded up one’s own learning process. Even pretending to teach a subject to someone can help you remember things longer.
Join online groups related to your area of expertise
Not only will doing so help you stay privy with the latest developments, but it can also help you share your knowledge and build your network.
Find out what works for you
We all have our preferred learning styles which can be broadly classified into visual, kinesthetic and auditory modalities. Visual learners respond better to pictures and shapes, kinesthetic learners are better at learning by doing and auditory learners can pick up things better by listening. While many a times these learning styles will overlap, most of us do find that one style works better than others.
Think of yourself as a perpetual learner
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that learning is over when you have earned a degree or completed a project. According to author Simon Sinek, the leaders are constantly learning and shy away from considering themselves as experts. By constantly forcing yourself to re-evaluate your knowledge, you can discover new patterns and help your organization to come up with even better solutions.
Making Lifelong Learning a Habit
President of North Eastern University Joseph Aoun argues in his book – Robot-Proof that lifelong learning is critical to keeping workers and organizations competitive in the long run. “Yours is the first generation to work and live alongside intelligent machines. At countless tasks, machines are learning to outperform human beings. So we must learn, too, or we become obsolete” said Aoun to the graduates of the class of 2018 in his speech.
The challenges of the workplace of the future are quite real and are already stirring up the proverbial hornet’s nest. The demand for Universal Basic Income and the number of jobs that are endangered to become obsolete in the next 5-10 years proves that the competition offered by AI will be all too real to ignore. In other words, workers will not only be fighting human competition, but obsoletion as well and the only way possible to stay relevant is to constantly find new opportunities to create value.
Faith Popcorn, a futurist believes that a diversified portfolio is the only way for people to secure themselves financially in a world where increasing automation will render jobs obsolete. “We’ll all have seven or eight jobs, with the average adult working for a number of companies simultaneously rather than working for one big corporation,” says Faith. Obviously, this will mean that people will have to constantly update themselves with the latest skills in each of their chosen professions.
Learning something every day should therefore be an integral part of your knowledge management strategy. The best way to make sure you don’t lose steam is to focus on taking your own time learning a new skill or piece of knowledge. Asking what-if questions to imagine potential scenarios in which your existing knowledge can be challenged, rearranged or made obsolete can help you constantly stay on your toes.
When done right lifelong learning will present certain signs…
- You have more questions than answers.
- You are constantly seeking new ways to improve yourself.
- Your aha-moments seem more like a stepping stone to greater things, a means to an end rather than the goal.
- You like to experiment with new ways to get things done.
- You swear by efficiency.
- You are always looking for feedback.
- You like to apply your knowledge to see if it has the same effect as it claims.
Continuous Learning is Continuous Improvement
A recurring problem with learning is that it can quickly become pointless. Simply reading something or listening to something just for the sake of it can result in a lot of useless information that serves little purpose.
Instead, it’s better to let the challenges you face guide your lifelong learning process. In this sense, your ability to predict what issues you might face down the line can greatly help you to create an education strategy.
Keeping your ears to the ground, staying pragmatic and being just a wee bit paranoid about your own obsoletion can help you keep yourself motivated to learn useful things continuously/
Even though learning continuously is becoming an imperative, the sheer volume of information makes it far harder a task. Modern cloud based productivity tools like Runrun.it help you organize your knowledge so that you focus on learning the skill that you need right now, rather than what you may or may not need down the line. Feel free to take a sneak peak in with our free trial.