Our Learning Economy

I just read this article about what’s ahead for education in 2014 in the Atlantic. One key change that’s occurring in 2014 that was discussed was the upcoming changes to the AP and GED tests. The purpose of the test changes was described as to better prepare people for the so called “knowledge economy”. It said that, holy 1990’s. Our education system does it again and is right on top of things, is thinking and acting proactively and ahead of the curve. This plan is to focus on skills that were needed for success ten to twenty years ago. We need to be focusing on what’s needed from our educational systems for success in the future, for the next ten to twenty years!

The advent of the PC in the 1981 really lead to the information age. The information age fostered the knowledge age and knowledge economy in which economic growth was dependent on the access to information and with that knowledge was the key to individual success.  

We are way beyond that now. The internet has made access to information easy, inexpensive, and ubiquitous. The amount of information online is almost doubling annually and will increase beyond that. Information is being catalogued and curated online at amazing rates. Everyone has access to all kinds of information that was not before possible. Access to this information is available to anyone in the world, including people in remote parts of the world accessing it on demand from a mobile phone. The world is flat and the playing field is leveled. Possessing information is no longer the key to success.

Rapidly advancing technology and globalization have now spawned the learning economy where economic growth is dependent on one’s ability to adapt and learn in order to create opportunities and growth. Jeff Cobb says “we now live in what is not so much a knowledge economy but rather a figure-it-out-on-a-daily-basis economy or, more formally, a learning economy.” In today’s learning economy, the ability to learn is the most important and overlooked skill required for life and business success. The pace of change of technology, the economy and in global competition dictates that the ability to change and adapt to new situations is the most important requirement for global success. Corporate strategies and activities are forced to change at an ever-increasing pace to keep up with the global competition, requiring changing jobs and changing job skills. The best way to succeed in this environment is to learn to adapt and to learn new skills and capabilities. Those best able to do so will be the most successful.

Our educational system must support individuals to be successful in this learning economy, and it must start doing so now. Even talking about a so-called “knowledge economy” is a disservice. Markus Witte writes about the real education revolution that is going on, the revolution in learning. It is people taking learning into their own hands. This new trend is being initiated by a whole new breed of learning technology start-ups that set out to make learning easier for everybody. They are focused solely on their users, people who want to learn something. Our educational system must enter the current century and get with the program with this fundamental change otherwise our country will suffer educationally for another generation.

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