In search of a future learning concept

Text Ari-Matti Auvinen Researcher The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre

The research project Työelämä oppimisympäristönä – Working life as a learning environment, casually dubbed Tyyne, studied working life as a future learning environment. The key conclusion to be drawn from this study is that multi-faceted, extensive and continuous learning will be the most essential aspect of all work in the future. It was highlighted that work in the future will clearly be community- based in nature, and expert tasks conducted alone are already vanishing. Information processing and new learning are almost without exception involved in all current and future professions – including those that are usually not considered knowledge-intensive.

Future work environments and learning

High standard in competences of individuals will still be important in future work environments, but individual expertise will need to be related to the collective competences of the work community. The fact that individuals may belong to many different work communities at the same time and assume different roles in them creates a new challenge in future work. Because learning in work environments will change focus from the development of competences of individuals to the development of competences of communities, new competences are required in the management of work communities, in the supporting of the daily learning in them, in the development of learning networks and in the management of the learning itself.

Learning will change in character also because learning in future work environments will take place at all times and everywhere – learning cannot be limited to a certain time and a certain place. Learning will break away from course centres and training schedules. Work will be learning and learning will be work; the borderline between the two is becoming artificial.

Various ICT-based solutions will become more important in working-life learning than ever before. The key trends that affect learning include e.g. the maturing of augmented reality applications and services, the embedding of different types of learning resources in tools and structures, and the fact that mobile technologies have diversified and become more efficient.

More developed information and communication technologies increasingly enable the automatic saving and analysis of many aspects of our work. It is also an increasing trend that people measure their work and wellbeing on their own. These trends create opportunities for new types of learning in which individuals and work communities reflect on their actions in real time as well as over the long term.

Learning and the revolution in the concept of work

We can assume that in future society, a major part of the population will not be employed in the traditional sense. However, people working in different ways and in different contexts should function as active, networked learners. We must take care that people such as sole traders and people employed by microenterprises and small public organisations are included in continuous learning activities.

The diverse, continuous learning of individuals is highly significant as a facilitating factor for professional mobility and, therefore, it is also significant in the dynamics of the labour market. Even in the near future, individuals will almost without exception change professions during their careers and therefore, continuous learning and self-development form the key elements of individual careers and the flexibility of the labour market.

Further information

This article is based on the report of the TYYNE project and the project’s recommendations. The entire report is available at the address