Study Group Lifelong Learning

The Lifelong Learning (LLL) study group is oriented to the concept of lifelong learning, which means the acquisition and expansion of knowledge and skills throughout life, additionally to forms of education (Commission of the European Communities, 2001). In this context, this means general and vocational education (BIBB, 2003). Learning is thus understood as a holistic concept.

The topic becomes relevant from different perspectives. At the individual level, there is a need for constant further training, as school education and professional training in times of constant social and technological transformation  are not  enough for a decade-long professional career. Lifelong learning plays an important role in tackling skill gaps with a new focus on the higher-quality skills, digital competencies and mindsets required by the modern world of work. Digital innovations change jobs, existing skills are not enough and require new skills. Lifelong learning also means creating and maintaining a positive attitude towards learning for both professional and personal development.

Due to these changes, it is also necessary at the level of society as a whole to provide educational policy measures in adult education in order to enable individuals to continuously expand their knowledge and skills through lifelong learning, so that their professional and social participation can be guaranteed (Stahl, 2020). In addition, further training and skills development is an important factor for the innovative strength and success of companies.

The holistic picture of lifelong learning thus goes beyond the professional perspective, in that socially relevant topics such as equal opportunities and the inclusion of disadvantaged groups are important. In this regard, the LLL study group is the interface between companies, education institutions and individuals.

The relevance of lifelong learning (LLL) as an educational paradigm is highlighted in view of the increased use of digital technology in organizations, the increasing workers skill gaps, the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Sustainable Development Goals SDG https: // sdgs. un.org/goals) and not least  due to COVID-19. The United Nations' 2030 Agenda includes objectives for sustainable development on an ecological, economic and social level with a total of 17 objectives in different areas. The fourth goal (SDG4) “Education for all - ensuring inclusive, equitable and high-quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all” focuses on education and particularly on lifelong learning (U.N. General Assembly, 2015). In the course of this, the study group for lifelong learning tries to contribute to the implementation of the following tasks through LLL approaches.

The Lifelong Learning Study Group focusses its activities in participation at national and international projects, cooperation with small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), with education and social institutions, presentation at different events, publications.

Some of main topics are

Supporting and accompanying Lifelong Learning in SMEs

Today, SME in Europe need to improve their innovation capacity and the upgrading of qualification and skills of their employees, particularly digital ones, of as a crucial challenge, but they have not enough resources. This is a problem for more than one third of all SMEs in the EU (http://ec.europe.eu/enterprise/sme).

Lifelong Learning Study Group encourages continuous learning in the workplace and development of LLL skills within some projects having many benefits for employees. By offering learning programs as part of employee’s career path, they can be encouraged to remain loyal and productive. Lifelong learning can also support company Internal Mobility strategy and can help meet skill shortages, prepare the leaders of tomorrow.  However, employees also need to be responsible for their learning.

Contribution to the development of practice-oriented, digital lifelong learning strategies and suitable pedagogical approaches particularly within upskilling and reskilling processes

The intensive use of digital technologies during the Covid-19 crisis is an important impulse for digital supported LLL (digital LLL) as companies and education have replaced personal activities with digital ones. Covid-19 has a catalyzing effect on digital lifelong learning. Such concepts have so far rarely been used in upskilling and reskilling processes. In addition to other difficulties such as the digital skills of trainers, there is also a lack of suitable pedagogical approaches. The LLL study group wants to support those responsible in this context, through discussions, presentations and publications of such suitable approaches and methods.

Digital solutions within in lifelong learning strategies to support inclusion

Digital solutions, including education and social innovation, can enhance the integration and quality of life of people with special needs, including those with disabilities, migrants and the elderly, through participation in society and traditional education programs. The Lifelong Learning Group is working on improving support models for people with   special needs and using digital media to collaborate and learn to increase the efficiency of support systems. Together with partners from different organizations, the Lifelong Learning Group is working on the development of appropriate mentoring models and training materials including guidelines on the use and specific application of digital technologies to improve the quality of life and work integration of people with disabilities, migrants, etc. and the promotion of inclusive education. Social media and virtual communities of practice and networks play an important role in this context.

Digital solutions as part of lifelong learning strategies to promote integration

Digital solutions, including education and social innovations, can improve the integration and quality of life of people with special needs, such as people with disabilities, migrants and the elderly, through participation in society and traditional educational programs. During a pandemic, these digital systems can create new opportunities for greater collaboration. Many people with special needs (social or disabled) who can do  limited learning activities should also benefit from digital systems as such systems offer the flexibility to tailor training programs to their specific needs. However, this did not happen. Special measures and disruptive innovations within education are necessary so that students and company employees do not suffer if continuity is not guaranteed through distance learning.

The Lifelong Learning Group works to improve support models for people with special needs and the use of digital media for collaboration and learning to make support systems more efficient. Together with partners from various organizations, the Lifelong Learning Group is working on the development of suitable mentoring models and training materials, including guidelines for the use and specific application of digital technologies to improve the quality of life and work integration of people with disabilities, migrants, etc. and to promote an inclusive education.

Literature

BIBB (2003). Lebenslanges Lernen. In: BWP – Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis, (3/2003).

BMZ (2020). Digitalisierung für Entwicklung. Chancengleichheit. https://toolkit-digitalisierung.de/digitalstrategie/digitalstrategie-bmz/ziel-3-chancengleichheit/. Abgerufen am 14.04.2021.

European Commission. Entrepreneurship and SMEs. https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes. Abgerufen am 14.04.2021.

Kommission der Europäischen Gemeinschaften (2001). Einen europäischen Raum des lebenslangen Lernens schaffen.

Netzwerk Stiftungen und Bildung. Lebenslanges Lernen. https://www.netzwerk-stiftungen-bildung.de/wissenscenter/glossar/lebenslanges-lernen. Abgerufen am 14.04.2021.

Ricci, C. (2020). Die Corona-Pandemie als Digitalisierungsbooster. https://blog.iao.fraunhofer.de/die-corona-pandemie-als-digitalisierungsbooster/. Abgerufen am 14.04.2021.

Stahl, D. (2020). Lebenslanges Lernen - das Ende der Erwachsenenbildung? https://epale.ec.europa.eu/de/blog/lebenslanges-lernen-das-ende-der-erwachsenenbildung

U.N. General Assembly (2015). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). https://sdg4education2030.org/the-goal. Abgerufen am 14.04.2021.

Publications

Hamburg, Ileana
2021: COVID-19 as a catalyst for digital lifelong learning and reskilling. In: Advances in research, vol. 22 (1), p. 21-27. DOI: https://doi.org/10.9734/air/2021/v22i130282. 

Hamburg, Ileana
2021: Reskilling within digital lifelong learning and entrepreneurship in vocational education. In: Language, education and culture research 1, no. 1, p. 26-33. Doi: https://doi.org/10.22158/lec.v1n1p26. 

Hamburg, Ileana
2021: Social measures and disruptive innovations in entrepreneurship education to cope with COVID-19. In: Advances in social sciences research journal 8, no.1, p. 70-80.

Projects

ReInnovate / Practice based research to enhance the innovation capacity of SMEs through learning and ICT supported colloboration


Bright / Project Bright@EU