In 2011 the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies published a report on the Future of Learning in which they outlined a vision for learning that was 'lifewide and lifelong'. Not surprisingly we used our own Lifewide Development Award as a model for an European Award and related this to the ways in which it might support the vision of personalised, collaborative and informal learning that was envisioned in the Future of Learning Report. Our paper was not only accepted but was deemed a winning entry by the organisers so, as the author of the paper I was invited to a Foresight Workshop led by Christine Redecker in Seville at the end of April.
About twenty people with backgrounds in HE education, policy, research, commercial learning enterprises, interests in technology and not for profit educational enterprises were brought together to engage in a facilitated structured process to consider the question of Open Education and Open Education Resources in 2030 in the context of lifelong learning. Underlying this exercise is the political movement towards greater openness especially with open publication of data and information and the European Commission's new initiative on "Opening-up Education" to be launched mid-2013.
With such a diverse group of people contributing to the workshop it was not surprising that there were tensions, for example between those who seemed only to be concerned with meeting the learning needs of people developing themselves for work, and those who wanted to adopt a more holistic view of lifelong-lifewide learning. Some participants were primarily concerned with formal learning that was designed and directed by institutional or commercial providers, and more or less conformed to traditional content-based, transmission models of education, while others were concerned to recognise the needs and interests of self-motivated, self-organised/self-managed learners who would create their own ecosystems for learning and personal development and draw on networks and communities and information from many sources rather than simply relying on pre-packaged educational materials. This group also saw the value of multiple sources and types of recognition systems eg open badges and open awards as well as more traditional forms of assessment and recognition. The workshop revealed that openness and trust are important cultural requisites to achieve the 2030 vision.
Some of the more significant discussion themes are listed below.
1 The need for a 2030 society that values lifewide-lifelong learning and is committed to openness. We need to start talking about lifewide learning if it is be a recognised reality.
2 The need to develop capabilities and confidence of learners of all ages for the diverse forms of learning that are envisaged in the Future of Learning vision.
3 An abundance of open source information resources including OER and vast quantities of information not specifically designed for educational purposes. Knowledge grown in social networks and personal narratives of growth and development are likely to be important contributors.
4 The need to maintain good levels of competency in a technologically enabled world. In 2030 technology will be used to help people in all aspects of their learning and development eg
· to reflect on their situations and evaluate their learning and development needs
· to help match needs and interests to high quality relevant information and learning opportunities
· to identify trustworthy communities where knowledge is being co-created
· to provide on-going support and feedback
· to identify potential sources of recognition and accreditation of learning and perhaps make comparisons between
· to enable people to capture and represent their learning and development in ways that will be accepted by any
scheme for recognition
· to help them create the narratives of their development.
5 A wealth of open educational practices to support individuals learning - the issue will be decided which practices to adopt.
6 A wealth of mechanisms and practices for valuing individuals' learning and development. 'By 2030 I want any aspect of my learning and development to be recognised and validated by an appropriate authority if I wanted it to' (workshop participant). The issue will be decided which practices to adopt.
7 A policy that supported the vision but contained plenty of space and resource for improvising and responding to the unexpected.
Reflections on the process
I am thinking about the idea of personal learning ecologies and the process I got involved in provided a good example of one that was partly my own creation and partly someone else's (the JRCs). My own ecology comprises my big learning ecology to support the lifewide learning enterprise. Much of the learning is emergent and comes from seeking an opportinity - like the call for vision papers - and working with it. But once involved I had to quickly grow an understanding of Open Education. But I was aware that I was part of the learning ecology the JRC team had built to fulfil its goals of exploring open education.
Because of this process I have realised that what we were trying to do in the Lifewide Education community is entirely consistent with the visions for lifewide-lifelong learning being developed by the JRC team for Europe. I now see the lifewide education enterprise as open educational practice being co-created and shared by a trustworthy community. Our Magazine, e-book and PoD book are open educational resources and we are continually growing these within our community. We distribute the knowledge we have grown through a suite of websites and make it freely available to anyone who sees value in what we have produced. We also offer open educational services through our Lifewide Development Award and we are growing open educational practices to help learners gain recognition for their lifewide learning. For Lifewide Education, Open Education is already here, we provide a concrete example of an idealistic, inclusive, free, community-based learning enterprise that embodies the Future of Learning vision.
The EU Commissions Open Education/ Future of Learning project provides Lifewide Education with a fantastic opportunity to contribute ideas on how the 2030 vision might be realised.
Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies WEBSITE
Jackson N J An EU-wide Lifewide Development Award. Open Education 2030 Vision Paper
'The Future of Learning: An EU Lifewide Development Award' can be found in the Booklet 'Open Education 2030' Contributions to the JRC-IPTS call for vision papers Part 1 Lifelong Learning Available online at: