Building new skills and exploring different professional areas are critically important in the modern rapidly changing environment. Successful people are taking this very seriously and they are always looking for upgrading, expanding, and improving their professional skills.
The necessity to learn new things regularly has become a requirement to stay successful in professional and personal lives. Lifelong learning is an important concept which means that people must be prepared to obtain new knowledge through an entire life.
Commitment to lifelong learning does not come in one day. It is important to build an understanding of the necessity and value of lifelong learning from very early ages. Learning does not stop by getting a vocational certificate, Master’s degree, or Ph.D. – it should be perceived as a beginning of a new learning curve.
We’ll discuss several approaches on how to encourage lifelong learning in our students and prepare them for the future successes.
Successful learning is enjoyable
Learning does not happen if students are not interested in the presented lesson. Very often, the lack of interest does not mean that the specific topic is not important. Usually, the problem is related to how teachers or instructors present the topic to learners. It requires some creative in planning the way how to conduct the presentation and keep students focused on the subject.
Different methods are used to make the content delivery interesting, effective, and engaging:
- Dividing the entire content into small chunks/portions;
- Asking all learners to reflect on the portions of topics using different methods of [removed]verbal, essay writing, drawing diagrams, images, or processes);
- Supplemental content with video, audio, and animated material;
- Encourage students to conduct self-study on a certain portion of the content and discuss their findings with the instructor and classmates;
- Allow students to lead the topic exploration, take the role of a consultant or moderator;
- Take students to real or virtual tour to explore how things they have learned are used in real-life situations.
Learning relevant things through practical experience
Learners quite often ask questions regarding the use of the knowledge they gain in real life situations. It is a very important question, and if we can’t provide a detailed and constructive answer, students may lose interest and develop an ignorant attitude. A modern learning environment does not accept drill-and-kill method of the course delivery.
Relevant and meaningful activities which engage students and connect them with the previous knowledge can make the learning a success. Relevance could also be recognized through demonstration how theory can be applied in practice by exploring business cases and analyzing daily experiences.
Students can be easy demotivated if they don’t see how theory is applicable to the discipline or profession. Relevance is the most important aspects of teaching and learning. The instructor’s job is to help students see the relevance in the content they may not find interesting and engaging.
I’d recommend providing students with the opportunity to discuss why each specific topic is important, worth learning, and how it is applied in real-world situations.
Relevance also ignites interest in the subject and desire to explore it in-depth.
Developing curiosity and confidence
When students feel successful about their learning, they will demonstrate confidence in their ability to use what they’ve learned. They will be motivated to learn more, exploring advanced aspects of the subject. We know that learning is a complex process of navigation between failures, learning curves, and accomplishments.
If a failure takes place, we should advise learners not to focus their attention on the fact of failure. Any failure can be perceived as an opportunity to improve and succeed. Stress and panic are blocking learners’ mind preventing them from producing creative solutions and demonstrating confidence.
We must help learners to analyze failures and understand the reasons behind them. It will help to get confidence back, and learners can proceed with further studies without the feeling of discomfort or panic.
Instructors can help learners to overcome stressful situations by developing an action plan which learners should follow to improve the situation. Instructors should closely monitor learners’ performance to ensure smooth progression through the course.
Using the feedback to encourage learning
It is hard to overestimate the importance of the feedback during the learning process. We all are receiving regular feedback at work, from family members or community and we clearly understand the impact of feedback on our performance and progress. I want to remind that negative and defeating feedback can kill interest and change the attitude. I am afraid to guess how many teachers, lecturers, and instructors ignore this factor.
Positive and constructive feedback does not mean that we glorify failures. When providing the feedback, it is helpful to start with the positive and encouraging comments and show learner’s strengths and achievements. When addressing mistakes and errors, it is important to provide suggestions and discuss ways of improvements. I am sure that most of the learners will take it in a positive way and will work towards the better performance.
There are various ways of providing an effective feedback to students; I have listed some of them below:
- Feedback should be given in a timely manner;
- Instructors must provide explanations and examples when delivering the feedback;
- Student’s personality and individual needs must be considered when providing the feedback;
- Avoid generic statements in the feedback – it should be focused on the specific skills or knowledge;
- The feedback can be given verbally, non-verbally, or in writing;
- The feedback should reflect student abilities and opportunities for the success.
Lifelong learning is not an option
Most of us realize that lifelong learning has become an integral part of our life; we are learning constantly at work and at home. Learning is successful and effective when we understand clearly its purpose and value, and when we are getting proper support and motivation.
Opportunities for lifelong learning are endless and it is up to each individual to decide how to become a lifelong learner:
- Reading and conducting research;
- Contacting people (online and offline) who can inspire and advise us;
- Teaching others – it is an excellent way to expand and update our knowledge and expertise;
- Creating a personal learning environment;
- Initiating a new project, which will require new knowledge and skills;
- Finding a job that requires and encourages learning and collaboration;
- Using the latest educational technology tools;
- Joining online classes.