“A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the lifecycle, from early childhood through retirement. It encompasses formal learning (schools, training institutions, universities); non-formal learning (structured on-the job training); and informal learning (skills learned from family members or people in the community). It allows people to access learning opportunities as they need them rather than because they have reached a certain age” (World Bank, 2002, p. xvii).
Initially I considered lifelong learning to be just that – any learning that happens during a life. It seemed obvious and simple. However, on further reading, I realised just how important lifelong learning will be to my students. In our current society, employment is transient, the economy is knowledge-based, and information is networked. As a result, companies “need workers who are willing and able to update their skills throughout their lifetimes.” (World Bank, 2002, p. xviii) Additionally, the rise of connectivisim has led the ability to “know-where” to find information to be valued more highly than traditional “know-how” and “know-what” (Howell, 2012, p. 28). Not all children are going to come from backgrounds that enable these capabilities. Therefore, as a teacher, I must support students to become capable and willing lifelong learners.
After some consideration, supporting a student to become a lifelong learner appears to require skill development in two main areas: technological proficiency, and educational proficiency. Firstly, the student must become technologically capable. This is closely linked with digital fluency: the student must be able to use the digital platforms on which the required information is disseminated. Secondly, the student must develop independent enquiry skills. These include competence in student-led, collaborative, and peer-led learning; problem solving and enquiry learning skills; practice transferring knowledge to new situations; and use of higher order thinking skills (Howell, 2012, p. 173). However, this skill development will be hopelessly insufficient if I do not also kindle within my students a love of learning. While I hope my affinity for education will be infectious, I suspect a little extra research into injecting enthusiasm in the classroom may be in order on my behalf.
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Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press
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World Bank. (2002). Lifelong learning in the global knowledge economy: Challenges for developing countries. Retrieved from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLL/Resources/Lifelong-Learning-in-the-Global-Knowledge-Economy/lifelonglearning_GKE.pdf