The Future of Learning: What They Don't Teach at University, But Should

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Aug 30, 2023

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The Future of Learning: What They Don't Teach at University, But Should

In today's rapidly evolving world, the traditional model of education is no longer sufficient. The knowledge and skills we acquire during our time in university quickly become outdated, rendering our degrees irrelevant within a few short years. As the ocean of information continues to expand, the value of individual facts diminishes. In this context, the ability to make sense of information and discern what is important becomes paramount.

Rather than simply imparting more information, educators must focus on equipping students with the skills to navigate this vast sea of knowledge. It is no longer about what you know, but how efficiently you can process and synthesize information. The ability to connect disparate bits of information and form a holistic understanding of the world is crucial.

This shift in emphasis from knowledge to intelligence is the key to adapting to a rapidly changing landscape. As industries rise and fall within a few decades, the need for lifelong learning becomes more apparent. Continuous adaptation and learning must become the norm, rather than a means to an end.

One concept that challenges the traditional notion of specialization is that of the "multipotentialite." These individuals possess a wide range of interests and excel at idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptability. They are creative thinkers who can tackle complex problems from multiple angles. Encouraging multipotentialites to embrace their diverse interests and abilities is crucial for addressing the multifaceted challenges of our world.

Learning itself is a skill that can be honed and specialized. By continuously challenging ourselves to grasp concepts from various domains, we become specialized learners with the ability to quickly adapt and specialize in new areas. This skill is invaluable in a world where knowledge becomes obsolete at an alarming rate.

To build true intelligence, we must be willing to let go of what we know. Approaching learning with an open mind, accepting multiple perspectives, and integrating them into a coherent picture is the essence of true intelligence. This process, known as "integrative complexity," allows for continuous growth and evolution of our understanding.

While universities play a vital role in education, they must adapt to the changing needs of learners. One crucial aspect that is often overlooked is network learning skills. In today's networked society, it is essential for graduates to have the ability to connect with mentors, fellow seekers, and knowledge catalysts in their chosen field. Universities should prioritize developing network learning skills and provide students with opportunities to engage with external communities and professional networks.

Creating a framework to support students in engaging with communities and networks outside the university should be a priority from the first year of studies. Educators who are committed to changing the system and equipping students with the necessary skills should come together to co-design this framework. Experimentation, learning, and sharing should be encouraged through the Seek-Sense-Share model.

Faculty members themselves should model the behaviors of engaged network learners. If they are unable to do so, they should not be teaching. Students can benefit from cognitive apprenticeship, connecting with external communities and professional networks throughout their studies.

In conclusion, the future of learning lies in embracing intelligence over knowledge. The ability to navigate and make sense of vast amounts of information, to integrate multiple perspectives, and to continuously adapt and specialize is crucial. Universities must prioritize network learning skills and provide students with the tools to thrive in a networked society. By embracing a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation, we can become fluid creatures of intelligence, ready to tackle the complex challenges of our world.

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