Lifelong learning is the future and it’s here now.
From the industrial revolution to the creation of the iPhone and drones, technology has always changed the way we work. When you think about it the evolution of technology has been exponential – in the 1900’s we saw the car and telephone and today we are seeing wearable tech and artificial intelligence as the way of the future.
The challenge that the education system must face is, how to keep up with the demand for new skills and never-before-seen jobs to match (and manage) where technology is heading. We are in an era of development unlike any previously experienced, and as a result, the rise of technology will have (and already is having) significant impacts on how we learn and skill for the workforce.
What this means is, the shelf life of skills is much shorter than it used to be. Some estimates are suggesting that skills effectively expire after six years. What’s more concerning is that this ‘best before’ date extends out to many of the popular university degrees in Australia. University leaders are predicting that 40% of existing degrees and careers will soon be obsolete.  This, if nothing else, shows the absolute need for lifelong learning.
Our format for learning has historically been a model where you study at school, do at work and retire at 60. But, we already know that this is a rapidly outdated system. We need to find a system that cultivates lifelong learning and supports the continual upskilling of our workforce. Especially, if we look how many careers one person is expected to have in a lifetime…
Hint: it’s estimated to be more than 17 jobs over five different careers.
It’s plain idiocy if we think that that completing a three-to-four year degree for every new career is how we’ll skill our future workforce. No! Now is the time to change our approach to education.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstetin
This is where the potential for microlearning and microcredentials comes in.
Micro learning is a growing field in the training and development industries (and it’s no surprise as to why). It is the approach that professional education is delivered in bite-sized content pieces across a variety of delivery platforms.
So why do we like it?
- Easy to produce; therefore easy to digest
- Less expensive to create and deliver; therefore more cost effective to access.
- Agile in response to changing environments; enables the learner to access current information quickly
- Integrated with new technology; therefore accessible and relevant.
We’ve all been in a conference, lecture or classroom where boredom gets the better of us. Today’s learners are searching for information that is broken down, easy to digest and practical. Micro-learning provides the brevity the learners need (keeping content segments between 90seconds and 10 minutes), without compromising on the quality of information.
Microcredentials are the recognition of skill, skill sets or knowledge that is required in the working environment. You may also hear them called nanodegrees, badges or stackable micro degrees.
Much like the Recognition of Prior Learning concept in vocational education, they aim to certify a portfolio of skills gained through experience. However, they specifically target skills that are transferable across industries. Things like, problem solving and leadership.
While micro credentials still have a way to go we’re sure that we haven’t seen the last of them yet.
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