Everything changes but the most constant thing in our world is change itself. Its momentum never ebbs. Change is why we’ve seen the evolution of computers from room-sized machines to devices no bigger than the phone you may be reading this on right now.
Change doesn’t always yield positive results, especially for those who refuse to embrace it. The failure to embrace change can result in an organisation becoming redundant and irrelevant. We’ve seen it happen constantly in the business world — just think of how Kodak and Blockbuster missed their opportunity.
As change is constant, so too should be learning. We must learn continuously in order to keep up with change. Of course, change also affects learning today and will continue to do so in the future. Where, when and how we learn won’t always be the same, nor should they be. Today let’s look at some of the effects of change on our learning for the future.
First, the changes we face constantly mean that we cannot stop learning. We may all have different interests as far as content goes, but we all aspire to learn to fill our curiosity — we’re all just natural and curious learners.
Our world, as we know it, may not be the same in the next decade or even in a couple of years. Again, think of how computers have evolved in just the past three decades or so — and how many things you have had to learn to keep up with this now-indispensable technology.
Becoming a lifelong learner is longer just something good to become; rather, we must all become lifelong learners. It’s the only way you can keep up with this world.
Second, while we continue to learn, we also need to learn to unlearn. While we’re aiming to keep up with new developments through learning, we also must simultaneously unlearn things that may no longer be relevant.
Returning to our computer example, the skills you learned to use your first computer would most likely be irrelevant today. Everything evolves, and this means you leave certain things behind in order to make space for new things.
What unlearning entails is not as simple as deleting a file from your computer. When you learn something, it’s not easily forgotten. Unlearning simply means keeping your mind open to the new things ahead, and understanding that some things that were once relevant will cease to be so.
Third, the changes in our world will push us to go beyond classrooms and formal training settings. With attention spans and learning retention shrinking, forcing learners in a single room to “learn” will no longer be enough.
These days, learning is accessible online at your own convenience; therefore, there’s no excuse not to learn.
The greater accessibility of knowledge means that learners can choose their own most effective way of learning. We all don’t learn the exact same way, so to bring out the best potential in each individual, providing them options is the key.
Fourth, the future of learning will need the support from organisation and their leaders. Learning needs buy-in from everyone, but even more so from the people at the top. It is true that as individuals, we must pursue our own learning but as organisations and leaders, supporting that learning is crucial, not only for personal development but also for the development of the business.
With support from organisation leaders, better learning accessibility, motivation and engagement will result. The foundation for a learning culture in the organisation will be stronger when it begins with the leaders themselves. And with the changes in this world shaping everything at a rapid pace, we must be able to learn at the same pace, and this can only be done when the organisation and their leaders give support.
Overall, change and learning go hand in hand. Change is constant and something we cannot control. Learning, on the other hand, should be constant but it is one thing that we can control and use to keep up with the changes in our world.
Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director of SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa