By Jim Szewc
In a recent post on gettingsmart.com, Powering Lifelong Learning Relationships, Tom Vander Ark, extolled some of the technological innovations that are promoting lifelong learning strategies.
The swift and exponential development and implementation of countless technological applications have created more efficient productivity possibilities, personalized learning opportunities, and instant social connectivity. Technology is now a part of all of us, whether we are ready for it or not. So, what will separate the trends of today from the revolutionary, culture-shaping movements of tomorrow? It starts with how we, the lifelong learners, stay motivated, and what solutions we adapt to, embrace, and ultimately share. As the present culture has shown us, shaping a trend into a necessity of daily life is the first step toward creating a phenomenon that is truly irresistible.
Vander Ark points to what he calls “emerging solutions” for lifelong learning such as Bloomboard.com for individual learning plans and learning records and Edmodo for social learning opportunities. If they are to be successful, he says they must be properly “assembled and marketed coherently in the learning space.” Like most people today who are spoiled by a life of instant-everything, I would hope for and expect a quick rollout of professional development and learning systems like these to appear overnight.
Unfortunately, to the contrary, the only way to make a large-scale rollout more feasible is if each solution mentioned is the collective offspring of what makes our country great. This collective consists of several education-based for-profit and non-profit innovators and entrepreneurs that share a vision of universal progress and a strong desire and ability to make it happen. These change agents share a vision and imagination for endless possibilities like the creation of partners in learning. Their ideas are the foundation for a network of technological and social systems that can help those who are willing succeed in their jobs today, provide attainable possibilities for their future, and ultimately guide them toward the loftiest of their personal and professional goals.
From a macro view of emerging solutions that build lifelong learning relationships, I am selfishly pondering how this intriguing, all-inclusive collective will empower others in education careers to continually develop professionally. The empowered who choose to learn and seek out new ideas on their own, are and will always be the early adopters of movements such as this; I know because I am usually first in line. However, it is the other faction of our teaching corps and various levels of educational administration that are not always as willing to try something new. How can they be equally encouraged? This will be the true marketing and design challenge of this concept of partnerships in lifelong learning and the solutions proposed here — “selling” an entire legion of educators on these optimistic dreams and ideas. It will take not only the innovators and early adopters, but those change agents who take action to shift the professional learning paradigm toward a necessity of growth and the desire to continue learning. If we can do this, imagine the possibilities ahead of us.