Lifelong Learning 3.0 Pt1

What follows will end up becoming a vision of the future… (in dreams)

Society is getting obsessed with model or version numbers for certain things. We crave the latest technology, whether hardware of software and for the latest model of car. Version numbers have been used in the specialised industries to denote improvements to existing products. They have gone public now, with the common concepts of competition and marketing creeping in as a major force.

Some things we do not attach a version number to. Each replacement to our TV is simply a better make and model. Our furniture is purely by choice. However, we seem to have been drawn in to a world where we subconsciously measure how up to date we are with certain things.

Version numbers tend to be applied when there is an anticipated future effort to improve on the product. So, the latest Ford Focus will be expected to be improved in a few years’ time, by which time owners of the current generation of cars will be desiring something more sophisticated. The car manufacturers take their role seriously and not only want the public to buy their products now, but also in the future. Therefore an expectation and desire path is sewn into the very fabric of what they manufacture. In the binary world of IT, we a building infrastructures upon technologies such as Web 2.0, and in philosophy there is talk about secularism encouraging the adoption of terms like Humanism 2.0.

We haven’t yet done this for education, well, not explicitly.Unfortunately, there seems to be an attitude that every new fad and system is the best, the ultimate, and is the final solution to all the problems of society. It is framed by political ideals and rhetoric, rather than being seen as a constantly developing and improving service. As long as the current policy can make it to the next election, little else matters – so the cynics would say.

Even further removed is the status of Lifelong Learning – from the ages of around 20 to around 90 or beyond, we have a huge arena to fill. One might argue that we have had two embodiments of it up to now:

  • Lifelong Learning 1.0 for the masses brought in through social reform and liberal ideals, often through the philanthropic vision of societies, religious institutions and governing groups
  • Lifelong Learning 2.0 run as adult education by institutions as an extension of schooling to develop skills that are directly useful to the economy.

There now, we might argue, could be a third version:

  • Lifelong Learning 3.0 developed by communities for communities, providing engagement for all adults throughout the lifespan

I am deliberately ignoring Work-based learning and Accredited provision here. The Lifelong Learning I am referring to is open, non-accredited and andragogical in nature, designed to accompany people in many varied forms over the years rather than be a short-term experience delivered and completed.

Lifelong Learning 3.0 is an improvement, a development of its predecessors, taking the best joys of them but morphing into a flexible and practical service which is measured by quality, not quantity.