Fresh thinking key in lifelong learning
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