Defining success for yourself
Do-it-yourself (DIY) learning isn’t exactly as it sounds; it’s not really DIY, which implies that you create something yourself. In contrast, I believe that learning is a collective experience based on the transfer of knowledge and expertise. Rather, in this context, DIY refers to the course of education one takes; defining the path that’s right for you and your objectives rather than a predetermined one-size-fits-all path to somewhere.
What does success look like today?
There has been a big shift in the past decade towards customized learning and allowing students greater freedom to determine what is right for their career and what success means to them. This is an interesting part of education that hasn’t really been challenged before: what is the right track for success?
Success is defined far differently than it was just ten or fifteen years ago when a degree and a stable job were the answer to personal, professional and financial advancement. With a fast-growing gig economy and digital freelancers on the rise, career terms are measured in experiences and contracts, not years dedicated. So, students today don’t have the luxury of relying on a company for a forty-year career. But many do have the opportunity for choice and flexibility in changing careers many times over the course of their working life and their needs and interests change.
What should education look like for you?
I was recently reading through The Global Learner Survey published by Pearson, a fellow global learning company based in the UK. The survey focuses on what those surveyed (11,000 people) see as the future of education. The results show some interesting stats: 44% of Americans surveyed don’t think that traditional higher education prepared them for their career. 51% of the UK and 45% of the rest of Europe feel the same way. Globally, nearly everyone surveyed believes that “what you learn tomorrow is as important as what you learned in school.”
Certainly, all education is good, but the way that it’s delivered is incredibly important because of how it impacts time and money. Customized learning lets people choose what and when they study, and allows them to pay for it per course, making it far more affordable. It also makes it easier for those who are already employed but want to improve their circumstances to become further educated without having to disrupt their lives. Consider families on a single income, or workers who can’t afford to stop working, but want to better their employment prospects. Personalized course selection and affordable costs make higher education attainable. For those who are happy in their current role but want to perform better or earn more, continued learning programs support growth at the student’s pace.
Hiring for skill sets
We’re in an era where hiring largely focuses on a specific skill set and expertise. The survey explains that a “learner-driven revolution in education is unfolding around the world.” This talent economy is met by course-by-course learning opportunities that support students and workers in upskilling, or reskilling, in order to increase their skill set. Giving people the chance to effectively and efficiently level up for a new job or promotion gives them the power to better control their lives. Soft skills provide an interesting example here, because these are the kinds of ‘human’ skills that particularly important with the rise in technology and automation. According to Pearson’s survey, “upskilling is the way to beat automation and technological disruption,” and I definitely agree.
Surveys like Pearson’s confirm what we know to be true at ODEM; learning must be life-long in order to find challenge, fulfilment and success at work. But it’s customized and flexible courses delivered so that students can pace their studies that makes life-long learning possible.