Lifelong learning for a bright future

The acquisition of knowledge at all stages of life is essential for anyone who wants to stay ahead of change.

The pace of change in our world is accelerating and the business landscape is changing accordingly. The skills needed to thrive in business today and in the future will also evolve. As a result, some of what we learned in the past and what we know today may not be relevant.

Human beings are natural learners, with a need to constantly develop and improve ourselves. We learn from our parents how to walk and talk. We’re then sent to school to begin building a knowledge base. Eventually, we choose the life or career path we want, which may require more formal learning at a university.

But we cannot stop learning once we graduate from university. In fact, there is no fixed timeline for learning anymore. Nor is it one-way communication from teacher to student, having evolved in many cases to two-way and interaction between students and teachers or among peers.

And learning no longer has to take place in a physical classroom or conference setting. In many cases a lack of money to pay for courses is no barrier. If you’ve ever watched a how-to video on YouTube, you know how easy it is to find useful information for free, anytime and anywhere.

The point is that learning should be accessible at any time and anywhere, but also flexible enough for you to personalise it so that you get the type of learning you need.

‘WHOLESOME’ APPROACH

4Line Learning, a model created by SEAC, is an example of how different areas can be covered to create a wholesome learning experience. Each line of learning reflects its importance for each learner.

First, there’s Online learning, which focuses mainly on video clips and visuals. Online courses in many open-source software applications and programs are a good example.

Second, there is Inline learning. Here, learners are encouraged to take part in more structured training classes and courses.

Third, there is Beeline learning. This involves learning from one another through a community of learners — and even from experts in the field — through special activities.

Last but not least, there’s Frontline learning, which offers downloadable access to certain types of information that learners may need.

The approaches available via 4Line Learning show that a great learning ecosystem is now at our disposal, but nurturing learning in everyone is essential. It also must be lifelong — from the day you’re born until your retirement years. Everyone is capable of learning and developing new skills at every stage of life.

But learning doesn’t always come to us naturally, even if we are natural learners. A lot of the time, it can feel like a chore and something you must set aside precious time for. But the investment of time seems far less daunting if you genuinely want to learn in the first place. Your true learning potential can only emerge if you nurture your need to learn.

REMEMBER TO UNLEARN

As we embrace lifelong learning, we also come to understand the importance of unlearning and relearning. Many things you learned in the past are no longer relevant today, just as some things you learn today may not be as relevant in the future.

Many people associate learning with studying, but there’s a crucial difference. While both studying and learning mean acquiring and building knowledge, learning is something that must be applied.

Because people often equate studying with learning, they come to believe that there’s no need for further development because they’ve already done enough at school. But how much of what they did at school was mere “studying” and how much was “learning”?

In any case, change is the new normal and embracing it is crucial for everyone. The only way to keep up with change is to keep learning and developing new skills. But, at the same time, remember to unlearn what is no longer relevant to make space for the future.

 

Arinya Talerngsri is chief capability officer and managing director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup), Southeast Asia’s lifelong learning centre. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@seasiacenter.com or visit http://www.seasiacenter.com/ for more information.