Albert Einstein (as cited in Einstein’s Secret, n.d.) once said: “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” While such learning conditions may have once been mainly restricted to the classroom, advances in digital technologies means there has never before been more ample conditions to establish lifelong learning.
Lifelong Learning Council Queensland Inc (2013) cite Delors (1996) four ‘pillars’ of education for the future to define what lifelong learning is: “Lifelong learning may be broadly defined as learning that is pursued throughout life: learning that is flexible, diverse and available at different times and in different places. Lifelong learning crosses sectors, promoting learning beyond traditional schooling and throughout adult life (ie post-compulsory education).”
The possibility of lifelong learning is greatly bolstered by digital technologies and in particular, the internet. Howell (2012, p.13) explains: “educational outcomes are no longer restricted to the years of formal schooling; we are now concerned with developing the skills and aptitudes in our students that will ensure they engage with learning across their lifetime.”
As a future teacher, this both intimidates and excites me: How can I possibly motivate my students to pursue learning for their whole lives when most students can’t wait to finish their schooling? What happens if I don’t motivate them? Will they fall behind with the rest of the world? Alternatively, the prospect of a globally connected and knowledge-based society is captivating to say the least.
Developing digital literacy is perhaps the most important skill to acquire for lifelong learning. Technologies like the internet give people 24 hour access to the world’s knowledge and the means to develop an understanding on a limitless amount of topics. Howell (2012, p.13) notes: “Your learning never ceases; you Google information, read various websites, perhaps subscribe to RSS feeds, share your thoughts in a blog or read other people’s blogs. You are constantly exposed to, engage with and create information digitally.”
As a teacher, I will need to aid students with their critical evaluation of digital devices, websites and other digital technologies (Howell, 2012) to help them prepare for their own self-guided, post-formal schooling.
Big Think. (2014, March 21). Bill Clinton on Lifelong Learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_nUOfaWEC4
Ed Tech Review. (2013). life_long_learner [Image] Retrieved from http://edtechreview.in/news/592-apps-for-lifelong-learners
Einstein’s Secret. (n.d.). About the secret. Retrieved from http://www.einsteinssecret.net/about-the-secret/
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT. (p. 13) South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press Australia Higher Education, VitalBook file.
Lifelong Learning Council Queensland Inc. (2013). What Is Life Long Learning? Retrieved from http://www.llcq.org.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=12