Well the Learning 3.0 Symposium which I facilitated happened on Friday 19th March at the British Library. I was so honoured to be surrounded by a bunch of leading lights and unsung heroes from across the lifelong learning sector to talk about what learning professionals need now to work in our rapidly changing world.
We had presentations from four different parts of the lifelong learning sector: further education, higher education, libraries and work based learning. And, as I suspected, we are all very much facing similar challenges and the needs of learning professionals in all these settings are similar as well.
We had a bit of a debate about skills/competencies vs attitudes and behaviours. Those from a more training background are used to the concept of competencies and find them helpful. Those from a more academic, university background are not so keen on the concept! This doesn’t matter, we might have different language and have different ways of looking at these things but we did identify many things we have in common. To avoid debate on semantics, I decided we should just talk about ‘workforce needs’ as a ‘catch all’ phrase!
So what were the workforce needs we identified as a group? These are the main ones we came up with:
- A new mind-set – recognition of the need to change and willingness to change
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Digital life skills
- Mentoring and coaching skills
- Facilitation skills
- Ability to manage online identities/online presence
- Ability to self-evaluate new technologies for their use in teaching and training
- Curating online content made by others
You will see that this is a mixture of attitudes and behaviours and skills and competencies – I think we need a bit of all of this!
We began to think about what we could do to address these needs and here are some of the recommendations:
- Showcase good practice from across the lifelong learning sector which highlights the benefits of using technology.
- Identify the barriers to effective use of technology and make recommendations as to how these can be overcome.
- Ensure all staff in the lifelong learning sector are given time to learn and develop as part of their job.
- Create a network of volunteer mentors and coaches for digital life skills in lifelong learning.
- Create a digital life skills framework for learning professionals which includes skills in:
- Managing your organisation’s/department’s online presence
- Managing online identities
- Safety and security online
- Identify how practitioners could be rewarded for sharing effective practice and coaching staff in using technology for learning.
Now in some parts of the lifelong learning sector some of these things already exist – and I will be outlining that in the report that I’m due to write(!) What was great about the day though, was that it brought the sometimes disparate parts of the lifelong learning sector together and we all realised how much we have in common!
I’ll leave it there for now for fear of rambling and losing your attention!
Please feel free to comment on any of the above and submit your own ideas and thoughts.
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