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date: 19 September 2018

Trends and Directions for Lifelong Learning Programs and Research

Abstract and Keywords

This concluding chapter draws on many of the chapters in the Handbook to examine four trends: the need for continuous learning in light of economic changes, learning challenges for older workers, concern about the readiness of students to enter the workforce and remain productive, technological and cultural changes, and the increasing importance of experiential and active, self-regulated learning. The chapter concludes with a forecast of directions for lifelong learning.

Keywords: economic changes, older workers, student workforce readiness, technology, culture, experiential learning

This concluding chapter offers an opportunity to highlight and integrate key points made and issues raised throughout the handbook and consider directions for future research and practice. I will do this in light of current trends and forces that drive the need for lifelong learning. The zeitgeist of rapid, continuous changes in technology, economic and geopolitical conditions, and culture are press for adaptive and generative learning.

Managers, professionals, and functional experts in most every occupation today learn to keep up with advances in knowledge and skills. They also learn to create advances. They find ways to improve the quality of our lives, strengthen social justice, and remain competitive as individuals, organizations, and societies. The term, “remain competitive,” means to garner resources that sustain our lives. It suggests limited resources from a fixed pie. However, in actuality, learning expands the pie for everyone. We go beyond the goal of sustenance to seek and create growth within and between individuals, groups, organizations, and societies. We learn about ourselves and others in the process, and as such, are better able to adapt and bring about change. We learn how to interact in ways that are functional and constructive, including how to overcome interpersonal and cultural barriers.

Obviously, we have much to learn. On the one hand, we are limited by our capacity for growth. On the other, there are no limits to how far we can grow as individuals and societies. Theories of development indicate that many people do not reach a pinnacle of growth, let alone achieve their potential. The same can be said for societies. Perhaps the world would be far better off if that were not the case. Despite these barriers and limitations, we continue to evolve. We add to basic knowledge. We invent new products and services. We learn about and integrate our cultural backgrounds. Our potential for development, technologically and culturally, makes lifelong learning inevitable. Lifelong learning opens the promise for a future of expansive opportunities. Our imaginations cannot fully envision this future. If we could, we would be able to predict what life will be like 50, 100, or 500 years from now.

In my survey chapter on lifelong learning in the Oxford Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (London, in press), I concluded by suggesting ten forces that will drive future research (p. 494) and practice: (1) technological and economic advancement; (2) broader accessibility of knowledge and educational support across ages and socioeconomic conditions; (3) expanding career opportunities in global enterprise, for example, managing global work teams in virtual environments and cross-cultural competencies; (4) theories that integrate cognitive, emotional, and behavioral competencies across the life span; (5) learning at and across individual, group, and organizational levels of analysis; (6) development programs that facilitate adaptive, generative, and transformative learning at the individual, group, and organizational level; (7) research methods that capture multiple levels of analysis using qualitative and quantitative methods, multitrait/multimethod measures, longitudinal designs, and technology for tracking development and career movement within and across organizations; (8) continuous learning for professionals establishing learning objectives and assessing learning outcomes and using this information and these processes for feedback to improve learning; (9) alternative forms of work at all career stages including part-time work, telecommuting, and career transitions later in life; and (10) work environments that increase individuals’ and groups’ openness to new ideas and active learning.

In my introductory chapter to the current volume on lifelong learning, I outlined the scope of the field. I noted that “lifelong learning is a dynamic process that varies depending on individual skills and motivation for self-regulated, generative learning and life events that impose challenges that sometimes demand incremental/adaptive change and other times require frame breaking change and transformational learning.” In this concluding chapter, I address several key ideas and issues that emerge from the contributors to this handbook, informing our understanding of learning needs and processes throughout life. In particular, I consider the need for learning in light of economic changes, learning challenges for older workers, the readiness (preparedness) of individuals to enter the workforce and remain productive, technological and cultural changes, and importance of experiential and active, self-regulated learning. In doing so, I touch on many of the chapters in this volume.

Need for Continuous Learning

Writing in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman addressed why learning is key to economic development. He quoted Craig Barrett, the former chairman of Intel, speaking about how the United States should escape the recession. “Any American kid who wants to get a driver’s license has to finish high school. No diploma—no license. Hey why would we want to put a kid who can barely add, read or write behind the wheel of a car” (Friedman, 2009, p. 8). Friedman explained,

Historically, recessions have been a time when new companies, like Microsoft, get born, and good companies separate themselves from their competition… . When times are tight, people look for new, less expensive ways to do old things. Necessity breeds invention. Therefore, the country that uses this crisis to make its population smarter and more innovative—and endows its people with more tools and basic research to invent new goods and services—is the one that will not just survive but thrive down the road … . We need everyone at every level to get smarter. (Friedman, 2009, p. 8)

Barrett would like to see the United States require every state to benchmark their education standards against the best in the world. Friedman summarized the point as follows, “We need to do all we can now to get more brains connected to more capital to spawn more new companies faster” (Friedman, 2009, p. 8).

Here in the Oxford Handbook of Lifelong Learning, in Chapter 3, Ted Fleming provides a detailed overview of the theoretical development of lifelong learning beginning with the history on the concept starting with Dewey and the development of educational policy in the European Union. In Chapter 13 of this volume, Feldman and Ng explored continuing education (CE) opportunities offered to working adults. They examined the antecedents to participation in CE programs, and considered the outcomes of continuing education, including changes in employees’ attitudes, knowledge, skills, and job behaviors. They noted that the longer the time period after formal education ends, the more important continuing education becomes in ensuring employees’ continued career success. In Chapter 14, Avergun and Del Gaizo examined continuous learning for professionals, which too is an ongoing process. Lifelong learning benefits professionals, the organizations in which they work, and the clients they serve.

Kraiger and Wolfson, in Chapter 30, explain the value and methods for needs assessment and evaluation for organizational support of lifelong learning. The purpose of needs assessment is to determine where training is needed, who needs it, (p. 495) and what the content should be. They recommended regular assessments of competencies and readiness to learn that evaluate lifelong learning and information regarding future needs.

Focus on Older Workers and Ways to Remediate Age-Related Cognitive Decline

With the aging boomers, issues of older workers and, more generally, cognitive decline suggest directions for continued learning later in life. Moreover, “the current economic crisis has resulted in huge losses in financial assets including 401(k) retirement accounts; older workers close to retirement may choose to work much longer than they expected, while some of those already retired may try to return to the labor force. In this context, it has become imperative for us to preserve or enhance cognitive functioning among older adults and to compress the duration of any cognitive decline” (King & Suzman, 2008, p. i). Fortunately, we are learning that remediating age-related cognitive decline with enrichment interventions is possible (King & Suzman, 2008). Hertzog, Kramer, Wilson, and Lindenberger (2008, p. 1) concluded, after an extensive review of the literature on enrichment effects on adult cognitive development, that

the available evidence favors the hypothesis that maintaining an intellectually engaged and physically active lifestyle promotes successful cognitive aging. First, cognitive-training studies have demonstrated that older adults can improve cognitive functioning when provided with intensive training in strategies that promote thinking and remembering… . providing structured experiences in situations demanding executive coordination of skills—such as complex video games, task-switching paradigms, and divided attention tasks—training strategic control over cognition that does show transfer to different task environments… . there is considerable reserve potential in older adults’ cognition that can be enhanced through training.

They indicate that we know from longitudinal research that engaging in intellectually stimulating activities is associated with better cognitive functioning at later points in time. (Hertzog et al., 2008, pp. 1–2)

In Chapter 10 in this volume, Strom and Strom explore intergenerational learning. They suggest the value of reciprocal learning among generations. Conditions that support such learning include (1) recognizing generation as culture, (2) granting identity status to youth, and (3) establishing learning expectations for older adults. These are no easy tasks, of course. Recognizing generation as culture is important because generation provides a unique set of experiences that shape attitudes, opinions, values, and ways of thinking. Supporting identity in youth avoids alienation and excessive reliance on peers for communication and acceptance. Youth will achieve the status they seek as they gain technological skills and credibility as educators of adults. Older adults should be recognized as capable of learning, and we should expect them to sustain growth and adjustment. These respectful conditions appear necessary to motivate a more expansive vision for education. Time management skills and coping with stress are central lessons that youth need to learn to be healthy and successful throughout their lives. Collins and Hartog (Chapter 17) described self-paced assessment and training modules with role-playing as a vehicle for self-insight and learner-driven training. Battley (Chapter 18) described how this ongoing learning can be supported by 360-degree feedback and executive coaching. Rothwell and Whiteford’s Chapter 11 described how corporate development programs link training goals to strategic plans, succession, orientation, and corporate direction.

Workforce Preparedness

Unfortunately, employers find that many new entrants to the work force are not adequately prepared. Employees need to be prepared before they take a job, and young people need to be better prepared before they enter the workforce. Employer-sponsored readiness training will not be enough to correct workers’ skill and knowledge deficiencies. A new report jointly sponsored by the Corporate Voices for Working Families (www.cvworkingfamilies.org), The American Society for Training and Development (www.astd.org), The Conference Board (www.conference-board.org), and the Society for Human Resource Management (www.shrm.org) (Conference Board, 2009) was based on a 2008 survey of 217 employers about their training of newly hired graduates of high school and 2- and 4-year colleges. The study found the following (Conference Board, 2009):

(1) Many companies say new hires lack crucial critical-thinking and creativity skills—but don’t offer related training. (2) Employers’ inability to detail their spending on remedial programs makes it impossible to assess the true costs of an ill-prepared workforce to their own—or the economy’s—bottom line. (3) Employers with successful workforce readiness (p. 496) training incorporate (a) a culture committed to training and thorough job-readiness screening, (b) strategic partnerships with local colleges, and a focus on integrating training with job-specific skills and career development, and (c) constant re-evaluation to align training with company needs. (4) So, employers should (a) track the cost and quality of training programs, and (b) help focus philanthropic dollars and public-policy discussions on the need to link K-12, technical-school and college education to the workforce readiness skills that employers need.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills in Tucson, Arizona, is a consortium of business community leaders, educators, and policy makers who aim to infuse 21st-century skills into education (see www.21stcenturyskills.org). The skills consist of core foundational subjects (e.g., English, reading, world languages, arts, math, economics, science, history, geography, government, and civics); interdisciplinary themes (global awareness, financial and business/entrepreneurial literacy, civic literacy, and health literacy); learning and innovation skills (e.g., creativity and innovation, communication, and collaboration); information, media, and technology skills (e.g., information, media, communication, and technology); and life and career skills (e.g., flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility).

Another element of workforce preparedness is continued value. Governments and organizations often turn to retraining to help displaced older workers continue to be competitive and remain employed. Unfortunately job retraining efforts do not work well for laid off employees (Luo, 2009). Job retraining is not a panacea. Workers who are older and have been in the same industry all their working lives select short training programs with marginal benefits. Jobs are not created, making the training superfluous (Uchitelle, 2008). Jobs do not materialize just because people are available to work. Also, many professions in demand require years of training and advanced degrees.

Strom and Strom in Chapter 10 made a potentially valuable suggestion for how to maintain worker competitiveness. They suggested the value of social networking and online mentors and describe the notion of a computer clubhouse to develop communication skills. They noted that the baby boomers have more formal education, are healthier, and anticipate a longer life than previous generations. Education for retirement should include more than financial and leisure preparation. Rather, it should include a sustained emphasis on responsibility as family and community members. McDonnell in Chapter 16 highlighted the value of a liberal education, for instance, studying the humanities (e.g., Plato) to develop an understanding of rhetoric and critical thinking. This basic foundation often gets lost in today’s focus on mastery of business tools and techniques.

Technology and Culture for Learning

Trainees’ reactions to the training have a greater influence on learning outcomes when trainees have control over the learning environment (Brown, 2005). This is particularly true in technology-mediated training environments in which trainees control the pace of delivery, attention to the material, and participation in the process (e.g., a simulation) (Sitzmann, Brown, Casper, Ely, & Zimmerman, 2008). Bell and Kozlowski (2008) trained participants to operate a complex, computer-based simulation. They found that exploratory learning and error-encouragement framing had a positive effect on adaptive transfer performance and interacted with cognitive ability and dispositional goal orientation to influence trainees’ metacognition and state goal orientation. The trainees in an emotion-control strategy had lower levels of state anxiety. Orvis, Fisher, and Wasserman (2009) studied the relationship between trainee reactions and learning in self-directed, technology-mediated training environments (i.e., in e-learning). The environment consists of delivery media, instructor behavior, coordination, and learner control.

In the Orvis et al. (2009) study, undergraduates participated in a Web-based, multimedia leadership skills program developed for corporate users by an e-learning company. The e-learning program included two different video-based modules (one 10 minutes long and the other 20 minutes long). Each video consisted of edited clips of conversation between a moderator and an executive. Topics dealt with management, leadership, and innovation. Learner-control allowed participants to use the following control-based interactive tools—the ability to complete the modules in any order, go faster or slower, pause, skip, and repeat instructions with tools that controlled the video, the transcript, and the outline. Learners could display or hide the formulate types (the video clip, written transcript, and outline). Learners in the control condition had to complete the program in a linear fashion watching the two videos in a predetermined order and pace. (p. 497) Consider the following tools associated with the video window: a visual progress bar and play/pause/directional buttons, an interactive transcript of the video that moves in synchronization with the video and includes links to move the video to different points, an interactive outline of the major themes discussed in the videos, a pop-up function, which could be turned off or on by the trainee, that highlighted key learning points, and links to access the executive leaders’ biographies. Learner control had a positive effect on trainee satisfaction.

In Chapter 19, Mayer examined ways to make the most of electronic technology. Multimedia or e-learning is based on research-based techniques for reducing extraneous processing, managing essential processing, and fostering generative processing in multimedia learning. Generative processing, similar to Sessa and London’s concept of generative learning (see Chapters 1 and 15) is deep cognitive processing that helps learners comprehend essential material and integrating and organizing the material in new ways. This is especially important when the learner needs to be able to perform well on transfer tasks. E-learning expands capabilities for reflective and experiential learning, applying Passarelli and Kolb’s (Chapter 6) experiential learning, making the most of the dual dialectics of action/reflection and experience/abstraction. Mayer calls for research to maximize the value of e-learning.

Wolf’s chapter on wireless technology (Chapter 20) provided a prime example of learning needed to adopt new technology and the applicability of new technology for providing access to learning. Wireless creates new contexts for learning as it advances communications capabilities by leaps and bounds. Wireless is in its infancy. It ties to other emerging computer-based instructional technologies, from the e-book to the I-pad, let alone the now traditional notebook computer. As such, it opens a world of exciting possibilities and challenges for providers and users of education at all stages of life.

Turning to cultural factors, Raffe’s chapter on cross-national differences in education-work transitions (Chapter 22) introduced the notion of transition systems associated with culturally based education practices for transition to work. These systems develop skills, socialize workers, and provide avenues for them to control their own destiny. The chapter compares countries and examines applicability of system components across cultures. Bhagat, McDevitt, and Segovis (Chapter 28) described the acculturation process of immigrants who are professionals in their fields. Similar to unskilled immigrants, professionals move to new countries and foreign cultures to improve their own and their family’s economic prospects. Unlike unskilled immigrants, they have financial wherewithal, but they still experience demand, opportunity, and constraint stresses. Lacking the support they are used to from their collectivistic native culture and facing discrimination and pressures for assimilation, they need and value alternative sources of support that promote learning and allow them to create a new cultural blend.

In Chapter 26, Silberstang considered how gender is intertwined with lifelong learning, earning, and career advancement. She reviewed the challenges women confront in their pursuit of learning, as children and as adults. Issues of access to education and social constructions of gender preclude opportunities for study, career entry, and career advancement. Girls are socialized into a gender-biased world. Women have struggled long and hard to overcome inequitable lifelong learning opportunities, large pay disparities, and fewer career advancement opportunities. Silberstang notes that this is a global problem that takes different forms and degrees of severity in different cultures.

In Chapter 27, Morfopoulos and Tyrie examined social entrepreneurship as a lifelong learning opportunity. People engage in, and learn from, social entrepreneurship as children, college students, mature adults, and seniors. Social entrepreneurship begins as early as childhood, as youngsters are made aware of social issues in school and find creative ways to get involved in bringing about social change. Schools support volunteerism, civic engagement, and community service. Once in college, young adults find service learning opportunities in their courses and outside the classroom. They join forces locally and globally to focus on social issues and engage in change initiatives, whether campaigning, lobbying, volunteering, raising money, etc. Online resources foster these efforts. This becomes a habitual pattern that people maintain throughout their lives, improving the world as they gain knowledge and fulfillment themselves. Social entrepreneurs continuously seek new approaches to serve the community, are willing to take prudent risks on behalf of their constituencies, discern between needs and wants, understand that all resource allocations are investments in stewardship, weigh both the social and monetary rewards of investments, and recognize that finances are necessary to complete their mission.

(p. 498) Experiential, Active, Self-Regulated Learning

A key message in this Handbook is the value of people taking responsibility for their own learning and gleaning knowledge through their everyday experiences as well as the major challenges and transitions they encounter. In Chapter 8, Gabb, Tinberg, and Weisberger examined implications of Kegan’s theory of development applied to community college students. Kegan’s scheme of human development describes a movement of ever enhanced meaning-making. The scheme is both constructivist and developmental: learners come to shape their “life-field” even as they continue to augment their abilities to integrate (and reintegrate) with the world. Kegan posits five “orders of consciousness,” with the clear understanding that few people attain the fifth order (although the need to do so is great) and that, as a dynamic model of development, we need to pay special attention to the transitions between stages. “When an instructor is not present and learners control the pace and depth of their study, the degree to which learners experience positive affect, become engaged, and thoroughly process information may vary substantially and thus predict learning outcomes” (Brown, 2005, p. 994). This suggests the importance of active learning and learner centered training designs.

Passarelli and Kolb (Chapter 6) gave us a clear and comprehensive examination of experiential learning styles, their foundation in theory and research, and directions for the future. They refer to the founders of the field, review of seminal research, and set directions for application and future research. The chapter will be useful to students and practitioners for understanding styles of learning and applying them to instructional design and learning facilitation. Passarelli and Kolb described lifelong learning as “The Learning Way”—approaching life experiences with a learning attitude. This “requires deliberate effort to create new knowledge in the face of uncertainty and failure; and opens the way to new, broader and deeper horizons of experience.” Learning is intrinsically rewarding and empowering. Experiential learning is grasping and transformation of experience. Transformation occurs through reflection and experimentation.

In Chapter 32, Weick considers future directions for successful leadership and implications for lifelong leadership development. Her conceptualization of distributed leadership complements Diamante (Chapter 12) and Boyatzis (Chapter 7), who highlighted the importance of leaders’ self-reflection and self-regulation in relation to situational conditions and others’ perceptions and expectations. Weick focuses on dimensions of leadership, as did Boyatzis, organizing them into characteristics (moral virtue, tenacity, humility), interpersonal skills (emotional intelligence, communications, and creating environments), and conceptual skills (sensitivity, judgment, and ability to learn). Recognizing immediate and long-term trends that impose demands on leadership, she concludes that the distributed model fits future needs. This approach treats leadership as a process, spread throughout the organization, with responsibilities shared, decision making distributed and emergent, leaders sometimes taking the role of followers and vice versa, flat, lattice-like organizational structures for operations, and responsibility to a broad range of stakeholders, not just stockholders. Learning requires an ongoing, experiential process of action and reflection.

Continuous learning can be planned or the result of happenstance (Noe, Tews, & Dachner, 2010). Social-environmental factors are important for stimulating and supporting continuous learning. Learning intentions stem from individual differences (e.g., locus of control, self-efficacy, interests), social network characteristics (e.g., network diversity, relationship strength, and network size), and environmental characteristics (e.g., climate for learning, human resource department support, and, more generally, the supply of, and demand for talent). The importance of learning to one’s career shapes learning participation. Economic conditions and technological dynamics shape outcomes at the individual level (e.g., career growth) and organizational and societal levels (human capital).

In another paper outside this volume, Hertzog et al. (2008) captured the value of experience and expertise. They wrote, “the cumulative effects of experience and knowledge on cognition are not all positive. Expertise in a problem domain also has costs, because individuals may fail to notice how a new problem differs from, rather than resembles, problems they have solved before. Identifying the higher-order generalities in information can also lead to an individual paying less attention to distinctive aspects of information, which can be critical in governing the likelihood of later retrieval of that information” (Hertzog et al., 2008, pp. 6–7). People learn strategies of behavior that become preferred and habitual. However, they can switch strategies in response to environmental circumstances and constraints. “Because of this, cognitive development over the life course is likely to involve compensatory (p. 499) adaptations to age or experience-related change in the form of shifting cognitive procedures or strategies. For example, older adults may use more intensive organizational strategies to support learning information when incidental learning makes spontaneous remembering of critical information less likely… . at a given point in time there are multiple procedures available to an individual to achieve cognitive goals” (Hertzog et al., 2008, p. 7).

Boyatzis, in Chapter 7, built on the concept of experiential learning. He described how Intentional Change Theory explains the physiological and psychological process that results in significant improvement in these competencies. In particular, the three most distinctive aspects of this model, in contrast to typical approaches, includes: (1) fostering the person’s ideal self, vision, and their dream before exposing them to any data feedback; (2) using coaches to create relationships that help someone through the process; and (3) developing social identity groups that create peer coaching relationships and sustain the developments. Boyatzis distinguished between threshold abilities and competencies that distinguish outstanding performance. The threshold clusters of competencies include: (1) expertise and experience, (2) knowledge (i.e., declarative, procedural, functional, and metacognitive), and (3) an assortment of basic cognitive competencies, such as memory and deductive reasoning. Clusters of competencies differentiate outstanding from average performers in many countries of the world. Competencies can be considered to be a behavioral approach to emotional, social, and cognitive intelligence. Cognitive competencies include systems thinking and pattern recognition. Emotional intelligence competencies include emotional self-awareness, emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, and positive outlook. Social intelligence competencies include empathy, organizational awareness, inspirational leadership, influence, conflict management, coaching and mentoring, and teamwork.

Further, Boyatzis suggested experiential ways to develop threshold abilities and competencies that distinguish high achieving leaders and managers from others:

  • Oral and written communications: Prepare and deliver a coherent and persuasive video presentation about 10 minutes long and a written report about 10 pages long.

  • Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making: Analyze a complex business issue and identify realistic solutions, communicating the findings in a written case with appropriate supporting material (e.g., demonstrate the ability to analyze data, use charts and figures, and understand financial statements).

  • Ethics and corporate social responsibility: Analyze an issue from legal, ethical, and socially responsible perspectives and recommend appropriate actions for a practical business situation, described in a written case.

  • Leadership and team interaction: Create a vision and communicate that vision in a way that would generate commitment, and structure teams for goal achievement. Students will participate actively and collaboratively in a project team, present their contribution to the team project in a project report or presentation and describe how they contributed to team interaction based on principles of group dynamics and team building in a project team.

  • Innovative business practices: Demonstrate knowledge of innovative business practices, processes, technologies, and methods through a case analysis, project, simulation, or workshop.

  • Cross-cultural understanding: Participate in a study-abroad program or in a group project with people from different cultural backgrounds domestically and internationally and integrate knowledge of an international business environment in a project report or journal.

  • Business development and value creation: Produce a business plan that shows the creation of value through the production and marketing of goods and services.

Boyatzis listed steps for competency development: (1) have a personal or shared visions and the will to attain it, (2) compare the current state to the desired state—a vision of the ideal, (3) establish a learning agenda—strategies or actions to try for moving toward your goal, a performance improvement plan, and (4) think positively—hope is the catalyst that motivates new behaviors—the mechanism for change, the spark that moves us our of our normal state of balance to the desired yet uncertain future.

Conclusion

I opened this chapter by listing 10 forces that I predicted would drive future research and practice: technological advancement, accessibility of knowledge, global career, integrative theories, multilevels of analysis, promotion of adaptive and generative learning, broad research methods and data sources, learning objectives and assessment for professionals, (p. 500) alternative work schedules and locations (the workplace of the future), and organizational support for continuous active learning. As an integration of this extensive handbook, I focused on four areas: (1) the need for learning in light of economic changes, (2) learning challenges for older workers, (3) readiness of individuals to enter the workforce and remain productive, (4) technological and cultural changes, and (5) importance of experiential and active, self-regulated learning.

In Chapter 15, Sessa, Finley, and Gullu described adaptive, generative, and transformative learning at the individual, group, and organizational level of analysis and considered how pressures and opportunities to learn and readiness to learn will continue to influence these learning processes. They showed that there are multiple ways to promote learning engagement that will have lasting value to students and universities and group and organization structures. Bedwell, Weaver, Salas, and Tindall in Chapter 31 provided a comprehensive overview of trends in adult learning, focusing on what training is delivered, how, and why. They noted changes in competency requirements including taskwork (new technology and software and the need for adaptability) and teamwork (critical social thinking, intercultural competence, and shared leadership). Formal and informal mentoring programs and self-directed learning indicate that training needs will be met in part by individuals recognizing their own need for learning and supporting the learning of their colleagues. I conclude here with my prediction of trends and directions for lifelong learning:

Lifelong Learning Forecast

  • The demand for opportunities and pressures for learning will continue along with technological and economic transitions.

  • Technology will continue to advance, requiring learning, but will also provide new opportunities for accessing knowledge and learning new skills, thereby promoting opportunities for innovation and economic development.

  • Cross-cultural pressures and opportunities will expand; learning and developing multicultural sensitivity through travel, learning transcendent languages (e.g., Chinese, Russian, Hindi, which are used along with English in emerging economies), geographically dispersed teamwork, and expatriate experiences.

  • Educators will become facilitators of learning (“the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage”) encouraging mindful, self-regulated learning and reflection and active exploration.

  • People will learn constructive methods for learning, make continuous learning a habit, and become generative learners who are open and actively seek, new knowledge and ideas and experiment with new work strategies and life experiences.

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