Lifelong learning for all: Connecting school with the rest of life (1)

Children who are now starting elementary school will probably live to see the XXII century. How long will they have to work? Until 2075? Difficult to predict. However, in view of the acceleration of technological transformation during the last 20 years, especially with the rise of the Internet, it seems sensible to say that they will need to adapt to a more complex and unpredictable society, where constant change constitutes the new normal. A lifetime job is an unlikely scenario… unless they make of lifelong learning a job! Learning is not just for school but for life.



It is vital to learn how to learn in the digital space which is part of our life


We are heading to the age of experience, which employs the new technology as a servant, not as master, of what is desired.[1] But the Internet is more than a tool. It is an ecology of human-technology interaction[2], the very water in which we are swimming.[3] It impacts the very way in which we organize, both globally and locally. With half the world’s population already connected (3.5 billion users[4]), a powerful global conversation is under way. People are discovering new ways of creating and sharing knowledge. This distribution of knowledge adds new layers of complexity to the world we live in, significantly increasing the importance of literacy for citizens compared to the past decades and posing a challenge especially for those with limited basic skills.[5][6] To adapt to this digital transformation, many organizations are moving from hierarchies to networks[7], learning for the future.[8] More and more people are self-organizing to address the problems of society on an scale unimaginable before the Internet.[9] The capacity to access collective intelligence is, in fact, the defining transformative phenomenon of the Digital Age.[10]


With this change of how we receive and gather information, collaborate with others and communicate, having education, or, in other words, being adapted to the world, is no longer about how much you know, but fundamentally about having the capacity to acquire new knowledge when you need. In the past, education consisted in imparting knowledge. Today, it is about providing students with the skills to navigate in an increasingly unpredictable world.[11] There is a growing need for creativity, flexibility, analysis and synthesis skills in the use of information. The school has to help children understand the networked world as it changes, and educate them for life rather than training them for the jobs that exist now. They should be able to thrive in whatever job they choose.[12] Whether it is a new type of work, an old one or one that uses a new technology, the acceleration of change in almost all important areas of knowledge means that within a few years of initiating it, a gap will be opening up between what they need to know, what has recently been discovered, and what they were taught  while at school.[13]


Regardless of how good education is, acquired skills quickly become obsolete. The challenge to face is not a “world without work” but a world with a work that changes quickly.[14] That world demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment.[15] This is true for both experienced employees and recent graduates. Studies in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and India have shown that there is a gap between the skills that employers need and the skills that students have when graduating[16]; likewise, the disparity in the distribution of skills is seen as the major driver of inequality in our society.[17] Therefore, the ability to continuously acquire new knowledge and improve your skills through independent lifelong learning is increasingly important, not only for children who are starting school today, but also for those people who left it long ago.



  1. It is vital to learn how to learn in the digital space which is part of our life
  2. Lifelong learning (LLL): a new culture of learning
  3. The most important lifelong learning (LLL) skills
  4. The LLL skills are natural
  5. The LLL skills can be lost… or cultivated
  6. Cultivating the LLL skills connecting school with the rest of life
  7. Lifelong learning is for all


  1. Jenkins S. (2017) We’re over the digital revolution. This is the age of experience.
  1. Jarche H. (2012) Engage, out loud.
  1. Lilly J. (2016) This Is Water.
  1. Internet users in the world.
  1. Hanemann U. (2015) Lifelong literacy: Some trends and issues in conceptualising and operationalising literacy from a lifelong learning perspective.
  1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus Schwab
  1. Jarche H. (2017) Mediated relatedness.
  1. Welz B. (2017) Learning for the Future.
  1. THE DSI4EU PROJECT – Across Europe there is a growing movement of people developing inspiring digital solutions to social challenges. We call this digital social innovation (DSI).
  1. Collins R. (2016) The Network Effect: Changing the Way the World Works.
  1. Schleicher A. (2015) Education in an Uncertain World.
  1. Haug L. (2016) How do you get a job that doesn’t exist yet?
  1. Bollington A. (2015) Why isn’t everyone lifelong learning?
  1. Brynjolfsson E. (2017) How to Thrive — and Survive — in a World of AI Disruption.
  1. Palmer A. (2017) Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative.
  1. Calonge D. & Shah M. (2016) MOOCs, Graduate Skills Gaps, and Employability: A Qualitative Systematic Review of the Literature.
  1. Gaskell A. (2016) Can MOOCs Help You To Retrain If You Lose Your Job?
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