New era for lifelong learning

New era for lifelong learning

SINGAPORE - That university degree you have under your belt may no longer be good enough in the next 10 years, at the rate the knowledge- and technologically based economy is developing.

The way forward, is Continuing Education for Adults - an aspect that is expected to be prevalent in the future, says Dr Ismail Serageldin.

This was one of the key points the founding director of The Bibliotheca Alexandria raised during his talk, Global Challenges And The University Of Tomorrow.

Held at The Pod at the National Library, the presentation on March 26 drew about 40 people and was organised by the National Library Board.

No stranger to Singapore, Dr Ismail was here in August last year to speak at the International Summit of the Book and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions World Library and Information Congress.

In his most recent talk, he addressed how the Internet has brought about a knowledge revolution and changed the way we interact with information.

This revolution will have a profound impact on educational institutions - from kindergarten through university - and, in particular, the importance of Continuing Education for Adults.

The rise of continuing education

If labour productivity is to continue to increase, Continuing Education for Adults will have to become a necessity, says Dr Ismail.

He explains: "Constant updating of knowledge and skills will be necessary, and a vast programme of adult education will become an integral part of the university of the future.

"It will allow for flexible career transitions and the modular upgrading of skills in different disciplines."

Solving problems together

The Internet is opening undreamed of vistas of possibilities, including the "flipped classroom", says Dr Ismail.

The conventional approach - where the classroom "face time" is used for lectures and students do the exercises and problem-solving on their own - is "flipped" around as lectures are recorded separately.

This allows students to watch the lectures on their own time and use the classroom face time to work together with their teachers on problem-solving and other tasks.

University is no longer just for academics

Many of the traditional functions of the university - such as the search for truth through research, dissemination and discussion, the defence of values, the mediation of transitions in young people's lives and, most dramatically, the certification of having achieved a certain level of marketable skills - will remain.

With continuing education, the university is not only going to remain the central part of a changing higher education system, it is also going to remain a physical presence in communities and cities, and the campus will remain a locus of interaction, not just within the university community, but also between the university and society.

Universities in the United States put many courses online, but that did not result in the decline of applicants wanting to obtain the brick-and-mortar learning experience.

"Despite the enormous impact of the ICT (information and communication technology) revolution on many aspects of the learning experience, I do not believe that the university as a physical location will simply disappear," says Dr Ismail.

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