Arie van Tilborg

Learn | Unlearn | Relearn

It all starts with good education

The people of Rotterdam were asked what they think the city should invest in to be prepared for the future. Subjects like nature, sustainability and safety scored a lot, but the most popular subject by far is E D U C A T I O N ! The best way to predict the future is to create it together. To get an answer to the question what Rotterdam will look like in 2037 the Municipality of Rotterdam took the initiative to organize conversations with more than 9000 of its inhabitants. You can read the results in Het verhaal van de Stad (in dutch only).

Future Proof Talent: the future of work and education  

Education is more than ever about passion and purpose (a "higher" goal). Without passion and purpose even a top talent will never be a top performer. Personality and personal motivation are leading: curiosity, involvement, resilience, motivation, determination, perseverance, creativity, insight, the ability to change and learn. It is all about stimulating, supporting, stimulating the inner motives to constantly develop and renew yourself. In a constantly changing environment, you never stop learning, you are never done, your work is never finished. You must constantly learn, try and improve. How do we stimulate the student to come in to action, intrinsically motivated, willing to look for problems, eager to meet challenges and explore new things, investigate what works well or not in a specific work environment? Short cyclical, non-linear learning and improvement, the working environment as the learning environment and vice versa.

An end point actually no longer exists because it is outdated by the time you would achieve it. Adaptability is inevitable for both companies and employees. Companies can only be resilient and future-proof when the people who work there are. It is important that we educate those people. Employees who have the will and ability to learn and acquire new skills to be able to apply them quickly and effectively to new challenging situations, but also the ability to release existing visions and practices. Learning ability (learnability) becomes the most important criterion for future success. In the near future, an employee will soon be incompetent and on a somewhat longer term redundant, if he does not constantly develop and adapt to exponential developments. Again, the speed at which you can acquire knowledge and skills becomes more important than the knowledge itself.

In addition, a high degree of self-reflection is important. It is necessary to learn permanently, but a good feeling for one's own weaknesses, uncertainties and doubts is also important. As soon as a student realizes that he has the power to solve a problem, it will be a transforming experience, there is no way back anymore. Then they may even be looking for problems because it works so well to come up with a solution. With such a mindset they will be able to reinvent themselves permanently, to be the best version of themselves again and again. We must educate people who are not only relevant to the labor market of today or when they leave school, but also for the labor market of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. For the talent of tomorrow, learnability is crucial. 

Your own learnability and change potential (employagility) increasingly determine your value for your job. It will become the most important distinguishing factor for any job, beyond intelligence or education. Learn, unlearn and relearn. Both for people and organizations, changeability and learnability determine the success. Feedback, self-reflection, learning from others, collaboration play an important role. In modern, flat organizations, you will permanently question your own position and working-methods.

Future-proof students are creative, imaginative, critical, enterprising and innovative. They can work with everyone at any time and anywhere in the "real" world, virtually or in a combination. They have learned how to think instead of what to think, to ask the right questions instead of giving the right answers and have a design mindset. They are skilled in intra and interpersonal skills, they have the ability to solve (complex) problems (computational thinking) and use new technology to do new things. They have learned to learn and are able to work on their own marketfitness on their own initiative.

Digitalization of education

Schools have less and less a monopoly on learning and knowledge. It is an institution that offers an ordered, recognizable form of learning. We are familiar with that. But much of the learning takes place outside of school and usually in a completely different way than inside. In several communities, within the family, in culture, in associations and sports clubs, in religion and increasingly online. More and more we have consuming students who can shop for their education. Sometimes officially using vouchers to choose where and with whom they want to learn, sometimes by searching for internet-accessible information themselves. Conventional education is turning into Education As A Service (EASA), with effective, scalable open standards, platform and technology independent, based on sharing and collaboration between all stakeholders: educators, individuals, networks, scienctists, businesses, entrepreneurs, etc. With the existence of a growing number of Moocs, anyone with Internet access, independent of an educational institute, is able to receive education and obtain official certificates at a low cost or even for free, always, anywhere, even at the best universities in the world like Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Sorbonne, Beijing, etc. - Thanks to the exponential growth of Moocs, millions of students from around the world have been doing so since 2011. In 2015, market leader Coursera had a total of 17 million students, and over 35 million students enrolled for at least one Mooc. 

In addition, teachers, coaches, students, parents have access to more and more data about the student, which provides more and better insight into the individual's development and learning process, thus allowing personalized tailor-made education. With the help of new technologies (artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms) even predictions can be made to pinpoint the best individual learning pathway during the study. An example of such a system that has already been widely used is ALEKS (Assesment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces). And that's just the beginning.

The interaction between the real world and the virtual world will also increase greatly in educational situations due to augmented and virtual reality. Combined with gamification, learning will become more immersive and entertaining. Realistic experiencing, being on the spot, feeling, tasting, hearing, interacting makes learning fun and will work very motivating.