Learning effectively in a changing world

Technology is changing faster than ever in today’s world. Emerging technological advancements has reshaped our jobs, eliminated the redundant ones and left people to perform higher-functioning jobs. According to a statistic from the World Economic Forum on the future of jobs, it was observed that “nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today. However, 38% of businesses surveyed expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than a quarter expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise.”

Not very long ago, people would go to their preferred school/University and develop specific qualifications, for example say accounting and get certified. The next logical step would be to get a job as an accountant and use the acquired skills set until retirement.

But the situation is not so linear today. The problems we solve today tend to be more complex and require interdisciplinary skills.

The World Economic Forum report on the future of jobs also states that the profile of an accountant is one of the many roles that have been identified as ‘redundant’ and is expected to decline from 41% in 2018 to 22% in 2020. In a world of continuous and fast-paced technology-driven evolution, our past credentials can be disrupted very easily and rendered obsolete within a very short time.

In a report published by Dell technologies in July 2017, it was mentioned that-

“The pace of change will be so rapid that people will learn ‘in the moment’ using new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality. The ability to gain new knowledge will be more valuable than the knowledge itself.”

Get ready for a lifetime of skills training and retraining.

In fact, that “85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet”. This was estimated in a report authored by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) and a panel of 20 tech, business and academic experts from around the world.

Rapid changes in technology test our ability to keep pace with and learn new in-demand skills effectively. How does one keep pace? It requires developing a continuous learning strategy for one’s self-improvement and self-development.

Recently, I had stumbled upon an online course about learning from academic experts — Dr Barbara Oakley from University of California, San Diego. I found it to be interesting and noted down a few points from the course which were of particular interest and relevance to lifelong learning strategies for professionals.

  • Continuous, multimodal Learning: Spread out your learnings over many sessions and over many different modes of learning.
  • Application-oriented Learning: Know when to apply a particular concept is as important as knowing how.
  • Learning by Teaching: Try to make a deliberate effort to teach what you learn to someone else
  • Peer Learning: No matter what or where you are learning, you don’t have to learn alone. In fact, it is the uniqueness of the people with which you learn and the discussions you have together that make what you learn unforgettable.

The traditional classroom strategies are not enough when it comes to adult learners. Interactive tech-enabled teaching learning methodologies are best suited for adult learners.

But, throughout their career, most adults have learned in teacher-centred classrooms where the communication always happened in one way: the teachers explained, learners listened with attention, and only answered when asked a particular question. This traditional model assumes both the authority of the teacher and the ignorance of the students.

In today’s world, increasingly the learners and not the teacher, are taking the “charge” of their own learning. They tend to have more peer to peer conversations and learn in a collaborative environment.

Collaborative learning is more effective than traditional methods of learning to improve critical thinking. Hearing out the ideas of the other members of the group can stimulate better thinking. Engaging with other learners also helps in fostering better communication of ideas.  In a recent workshop developed and managed by us at Capria VentureBasecamp, we found that participants were more receptive, engaged and intrinsically motivated when the learning was enabled in a collaborative manner.

The interactive teaching-learning can be implemented as a combination of the following four methods:

  • Flip the Class Model – In this method, entrepreneurs are expected to have gone through the digital learning modules and completed online assessments in advance. During the workshop session, a peer-peer discussion/presentation of learning is facilitated to reinforce concepts and apply the same to entrepreneurs’ contexts.
  • Problem Oriented Learning/ Phenomenon Based Learning – In this approach, the topic or the concept is taught with respect to a problem that the entrepreneurs have to solve. The topics learnt will help entrepreneurs arrive at the solution. This holistic approach works better than a traditional subject based approach in cases where the participants are all adult learners.
  • Active Learning – This method ensures that the teaching involves the entrepreneurs in the learning process more intensely than any other methods. It follows the concept of hands-on learning approach (learning by doing). Learners appreciate the learning more when they are involved in process of knowledge build-up.
  • Cooperative Learning/Group learning- It is a type of collaborative learning where the facilitator’s intervention is much higher. The facilitator designs the task and a group structure for accomplishing the task, including the assignment of roles to group members. Entrepreneurs are then allowed interact under specific conditions set up by the facilitator.

As we are confronted with a tough challenge in the skills economy,  it is important to learn how to learn faster and in an effective manner. Our capacity to learn is perhaps even more important than what we learn.

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