Lifelong learning header

Non scholae, sed vitae discimus

What will the future bring in lifelong learning?

Danny Van Assche

Danny Van Assche (UNIZO)

Back when Danny Van Assche (UNIZO) was still at school, there was a Latin saying above the board: “non scholae, sed vitae discimus” – we don’t learn for school, but for life. This beautifully illustrates the future of lifelong learning, according to the managing director of the business association, “A diploma only indicates that we have learned how to learn. All the rest comes after. I am positive that the necessary change of mentality for lifelong learning will also be effective. Digitalisation is forcing us to do so. We are already continuously learning.

The software programs we work with are constantly changing, so we learn to work with them. Even when we buy a new smartphone, or when a new Nintendo comes out, we learn to use it. So the mentality for lifelong learning is effectively already there. Younger generations are used to adapting to new changes.”

That younger generation is certainly showing the way. According to Karine Nicolay (national coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Education), many young people are already following their own learning path - or would like to follow their own learning path – but often still face obstacles.

“Colleges and universities are cautiously removing these obstacles, because more and more young people want to take an alternative path. I see that in my own children, too.” Change happens under the influence of technology, but it is also facilitated by technology. Karine Nicolay sees opportunities for artificial intelligence in the future. She refers to Donald Clark, who attributes AI a crucial role in motivating, supporting, giving feedback and adaptive learning. The Scottish EdTech entrepreneur illustrates this with an example from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


Karine Nicolay

Karine Nicolay (national coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Education)

“It is essential that people are allowed and able to follow their own learning path”

“At Georgia Tech there were 350 students and 9 assistants to support the teachers. One of the assistants was replaced by an AI bot, which none of the students noticed. What’s more, they nominated the AI bot for the best teacher award. This was mainly because the AI bot came up with answers very quickly. For example, when students asked which programming language to use for a task, the system immediately came up with an  answer.

When students had to send an email to the teacher first, they sometimes had to wait hours or even days to get an answer. Some delay even had  to be built into the AI bot, as it would otherwise not seem human. After all, its answer came faster than a normal person can type.”

Technology as a driving force for lifelong learning is also the trend that Marion Debruyne (Vlerick Business School) sees for the future.

“There are two types of learning. There is the classic ‘just in case’ learning, where you learn something for later on, for when you end up needing it. But in the future, ‘on demand learning’ will become much more important: you learn something when you actually need it. This requires a much greater integration of learning into everyday life. Online learning offers great opportunities there, due to its greater flexibility.

If you look at how the lifelong learning landscape is evolving, learning on demand is becoming much more important. This is made possible by digitalisation.”

Marion Debruyne

Marion Debruyne (Vlerick Business School)

Lifelong learning

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