Learning for Work? If So, What Type of Work?

A global work environment, where interconnectivity is the rule, requires new skills of adaptability and diversity.


Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part article. Part one was entitled Business Learning Experiences in the Age of Exploration


Most of our educational efforts prepare students for a work environment that does not exist anymore. The skills required to succeed today are not repetitive, nor they require memorization, they still tend to build capabilities for permanent, or at least lenghty employment. All these realities has shifted for a more dynamic, complex future that is built for freelance, working in projects with small duration and utilizing skills that require changes of companies, teams, even industries, and last well over what traditionally, used to be the age of retirement.

A more global work environment, where interconnectivity is the rule, requires new skills of adaptability and diversity. These new abilities are developed under environments that promote virtual collaboration, multi cultural developments, and multi discipline applications.

A data driven work context which is driven by the exponential amount of data generated across processes, people, even things, calls for data minded capabilities, new cognitive processes, trans-disciplined environments.

The new realities conformed by extreme longevity, abundance, rich media, machine interactions and new forms of value creation, require sense making, novel thinking, social intelligence, and design mindset and media literacy.

An approach of linear progress, even at an accelerated phase will not be enough!

We need exponential improvement, disrupted innovations and constant reinvention to cope with such a future, this is only the beginning! Cycles will become shorter and all these impacts will have exponential dimensions.

We need to model education under existing and known models that also prepare us for the future and all possibilities.

These novel environments are not theories and predictions. Most of them already exist and are making waves in our daily lives.

  • What does Netflix teaches us about customer options? Or story telling?
  • What does AirBnb teaches us about intelligent use us existing and inefficient assets?
  • What does Waze teaches us about route planning, adjusting or time management?
  • What does the National Geographic teaches us about inspiring to care about the planet? About curating and promoting new scientific development?
  • What does TED teaches us about sharing ideas? Or mixing entertainment with knowledge sharing? Or giving presentations? Or curating content?

These and many other existing references need to be brought into the academic and professional training space. They need to provide the role models and generate de DNA for innovative, adaptive learning experiences.

The academic structure that is based on the end result, a grade, a diploma or achieving the next level, is an obsolete view of a world that follows the tree of life, as opposed to a networked, interconnected and live world by which all nodes depend on each other, enrich each other and outgrow each other.

A networked approach does not allow for inequalities to exist, does not create imbalances with our planet, or does not leave behind gender, races or social nodes that are part of the network, doing so, will permanently damage the whole network where every node needs to take part. Only the nodes that are further away, feel these imbalances, but eventually, they connect as well.

There will not be an academic system, curricular development or even grades or diplomas. There will be experimentation and exploration environments, co/creation activities in which all stakeholders, specially students will take an active role into their own learning, teachers need to evolve into a curator role, and they need to design engaging learning experiences for this environment to flourish.

It is the Journey of Learning what matters most. It is creating a new Learning Experience, ensuring student engagement; systematic experimentation, expanding the network and making us care, for better outcomes.

A lot is being discussed around the fact that, for the first time, education can be managed under more scientific methods, big data, adaptive learning, personalized learning experiences, etc.

We seem to be struggling to find the next method, the next system, when in my view, there will NOT be a next long term best, unless it is co-created permanently by all stakeholders (nodes in the network) with the same levels of influence (not only academics deciding for students) it is experimental in nature, it integrates formal and informal learning for life, in any place and with any device, including books!

Next- 15 Minutes of Fame, Entrepreneurship and New Learning Experience

Fernando Valenzuela
Fernando Valenzuelahttp://www.cengage.com.mx
Fernando is currently head of Aspen Institute education program in Mexico and Partner at Global Impact Edtech Alliance. He was formerly President McGraw-Hill Education, Latin America. He is a recognized senior executive, entrepreneur, speaker and board level leader with international background. He has founded and led successful enterprises in Latin America for over 25 years. He holds a Degree in Computer Science from the Universidad Iberoamericana, and an MBA in International Business by the University of Miami. Active member of Wharton Fellows, ENOVA Network of Latin America CEOs, Center for Hemispheric Policy and Council of the Americas, board member at Inroads. He was most recently President at Cengage Learning / National Geographic Learning Latin America and founder of LINNEA, the First Laboratory for Innovation in Learning Experiences in Latin America. There Fernando lead the transformation of the educational models and creating high value learning experiences by engaging students with technology. Website LinkedIn

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