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Fresh thinking key in lifelong learning

Portrait of Anders Johansson.
Coordinator Anders Johansson urges KTH teachers to speak to their colleagues and managers about how to develop courses for lifelong learning. (Photo: Private)
Published Oct 03, 2022

The need for competence development is growing as society changes and technology progresses at a faster pace. More and more people need to develop their education throughout their working life. How can KTH meet the needs of the wider market? We asked Anders Johansson, Coordinator for Lifelong Learning at KTH.

“We hear it said that the half-life of the knowledge from an engineering masters is down to five or even three years. This clearly shows the genuine need for continued active learning throughout working life,” says Johansson .

For KTH, this is primarily about grant-funded continuing education, contract education tailored to employers, and public education activities like open lectures, debates and so on. The goal is for 20 per cent of education offered at KTH to be counted as lifelong learning.

“This semester, there are around 130 courses available as continuing professional development courses, and there were an equal number last semester. Historically there have been a dozen or so, so this is an incredible increase. KTH’s teachers have done an amazing job.”

Needs and premises

Teachers’ experiences vary, with different outcomes for different courses in terms of number of applicants, uptake and dropout.

“I think we need to see what has worked well and build on that, see it as an opportunity for development and learning for ourselves.”

How can lifelong learning be an opportunity for learning for ourselves?
“I think we need to talk to each other, help and inspire each other, find new solutions and adopt from each other’s solutions, basically work together. No one needs to be alone with ‘their’ course.”

One challenge is to adapt the courses to the needs and premises of applicants. Assessments show that shorter courses earning 2–3 credits are attractive, with good student completion when held online.

“If we can also offer courses with no restrictions on start time or learning pace we make it truly attractive, especially for people with full-time jobs and families,” says Johansson.

A lot of students today take part in continuing professional development courses. How can we reach out to other groups?
“If we are to be more active in meeting the needs of professionals, I think we need to develop courses and programmes based on them, both in terms of format and content. Then, once they’re ready and available to apply for, we need to market them more actively than we have done before.”

New learning formats

Johansson refers to studies showing that if KTH wants to reach professionals with marketing about learning, it should do so via social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

When it comes to contract education, which employers can purchase, Johansson feels there is a need to think outside the box and develop new learning formats.

“We’re currently running a project alongside Scania within the framework of our strategic partnership. We’re looking at how we can adapt a course they’ve bought and add in a more self-propelled group format, a bit like a study circle.”

Administrative support for contract education also needs to be developed:

“That support needs to make it easy for KTH’s teachers and customers to arrange education with KTH, and it has to be far easier to get it right than get it wrong.”

Text: Christer Gummeson

Tips and support for lifelong learning

Administrative support for teachers in developing lifelong learning courses:

  • Each school has someone responsible for lifelong learning (Livslångt Lärandeansvarig, LLA), who works alongside Anders Johansson. The LLA in turn works with the school’s support functions.
  • Communication staff at the school can help out with marketing of continuing professional education, but there are also resources at the Communications Department (COM) at University Administration (GVS). Communication staff have already taken joint initiatives at ITM and CBH.

Anders Johansson’s tips for teachers wanting to get started with lifelong learning:

  • Think about what you need to do and not do to make the course attractive and easily accessible. Size, admission requirements, etc. How extensive a course would you yourself be able to deal with alongside your job? Can you split up an existing course?
  • Talk to your school’s LLA. They should be able to help you, and they have access to a lot of facts and figures from the initiative in recent years. Above all, speak to your managers and colleagues: do it together!
  • The eLearning department has extensive knowledge and experience, often available digitally, so that’s another source of information and advice. There are also people to speak to at the schools’ offices of student affairs. If they are unable to help or answer, contact the Education Office (EDO) at GVS.

Process for producing courses

Further information about process mapping for free-standing courses, including process descriptions for producing courses :

  • How to produce an education offering for grant-funded continuing professional education.
  • How to publish and market grant-funded continuing professional development courses.
Belongs to: Current
Last changed: Oct 03, 2022