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March 19, 2021

How to power continuous learning and development during COVID

What is continuous learning?

Continuous learning (or constant learning) is a process that consists in expanding your knowledge and learning new skills on an on-going basis. It can be applied in personal, educational and professional settings.

The main aim of continuous learning is to encourage the development of knowledge through an ongoing plan to further the skills and expand the abilities of an individual.

Why is continuous learning important? 

Put simply, continuous learning is the process of building and learning new skills. Whether you’re expanding your knowledge in a field you’re already confident in, or branching outside your area of expertise, learning new skills is essential for students, learners and employees.

Continuous learning is proving to be an important and necessary skill that is desired by many employers. It’s important to perfect skills as early on as possible, which makes schools the perfect environment to start integrating continuous learning.

Ultimately, the culture of continuously learning helps create well rounded individuals, who have a broad spectrum of knowledge. It encourages students to seize all learning opportunities they are presented with to arm them with an adaptable skill set, subsequently making them attractive candidates for further education and eventually employment.

3 tips to ensure continuous learning and development in the classroom 

Continuous learning is the future of learning and implementing it in schools will encourage good habits in students early on in their educational and professional careers.

Here are some expert tips to ensure you can successfully introduce new methods of learning and development into either your own educational journey or those of your students

1. Prioritize 

On first glance, the world of continuous learning can appear daunting and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. One of the most important things to keep in mind when partaking in a scheme of continuous learning is not to overburden yourself.

A few examples of continuous learning include:

  • Reading books, journals, articles, etc.
  • Attending seminars and lectures
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Watching videos
  • Enrolling on online courses
  • Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone to try challenging tasks
  • Asking experts in the field

There are a lot of different ways continuous learning manifests itself, from learning on a more individual level to seeking out the help and encouragement of others. This is why it’s important to prioritize.

Make sure to identify what kind of learning you respond to best and commit to these forms of continuous learning. Although it’s not impossible to dedicate time to all of the above methods, it will likely become overwhelming and de-motivate you in your learning journey.

Instead of over-committing, focus on one or two methods that you think you will positively respond to and increase your knowledge through these means of learning.

If you’re an educator, choosing which methods to prioritize may be more difficult as you could be catering to a large cohort of students. However, the same principle remains. Don’t over stimulate your students, instead focus on one or two methods that can help to create dynamic learning experiences that your students respond to.

2. Time Management

Time management is an important life skill that affects all walks of life - on both a personal and professional level. The makeup of a modern day employee or student is one that factors in very little spare time. Individuals are inundated with tasks and commitments, which can make it difficult to develop a sustainable work/life balance.

In fact, a RAND Corporation study suggests that the average American has five hours of free time a day (source) and they don’t want to spend all of this time on furthering their education.

Although continuous learning and the expansion of knowledge is an exciting prospect for many, it doesn’t mean people are willing to dedicate all their precious free time on it. Social media, the internet and streaming sites have created a monopoly on free time that is difficult to penetrate.

Therefore, in order for continuous learning to retain its appeal, it cannot be too intense. Instead of suggesting learners attend 4 hour seminars or read 300 page articles, introduce new morsels of knowledge in easily manageable chunks.

Create an easily manageable timetable that assigns specific time frames to develop specific new skills. This way individuals can see what they need to do, when they need to do it and it removes the daunting prospect of being overworked.

3. Make resources accessible

Ultimately, all your efforts to implement continuous learning are useless if you don’t give your students access to the relevant resources.

As previously highlighted, there are a plethora of different ways that individuals can access the extra knowledge needed to develop their continuous learning. You cannot expect them to automatically have access to these resources or even know where to find them.

It’s important for you to lay out how they can access these resources. Whether that be distributing the access codes to allow them to read journal articles, or direct them towards a youtube video that will help develop their knowledge, you need to be prepared.

At the end of the day, if your students have to trek to find resources or are embarrassed to ask you for access to them, they will have no incentive to participate in continuous learning. It’s your responsibility to create a comfortable and inclusive learning environment.

What are the benefits of continuous learning and development? 

Now that you know how to implement continuous learning, here is why you should implement continuous learning:

Increases employability 

One of the top benefits to introducing continuous learning at an educational level is due to the skills and practices students acquire throughout the process.

It teaches young people how to juggle multiple things at once, the importance of ongoing learning and self development, as well as broader skills such as time management and technological literacy. These are all skills that encourage employees to be successful in competitive business environments.

Continuous learning develops good habits in learners that will help them throughout their professional life as well as any other further educational endeavours.

Promotes a healthy learning environment 

Teachers taking an interest in students learning outside of the government curriculum highlight an investment in a students education and future. This increased dedication allows students to feel more secure in the learning environment you are creating.

A supportive institution who prioritizes the development of further knowledge as well as employability skills instills faith in its students. This allows students to harbour faith in themselves, creating an overall more pleasurable learning environment.

Increases self confidence 

When students know a little bit about everything, it increases their self confidence. Students that continue to learn and read abound the subjects that they are taught in class begin to build up an arsenal of knowledge. This knowledge can come in handy in an array of different situations.

The extra knowledge that continuous learning affords students allows even the shiest of students to participate in class. It instantly boosts confidence and allows students to feel better about themselves, which will likely manifest in an increase in participation, further contributing to a healthy and inclusive learning environment for all.

Encourages personal interest

As individuals are at an impressionable age at school, introducing them to as many different avenues of education and knowledge as possible allows them to develop their interests.

The different subject matters involved in continuous learning gives young people an opportunity to discover what they find interesting and can possibly encourage and inspire their future aspirations.

Continued growth 

The biggest benefit of continued learning is that it not only allows for but encourages the educational and personal growth of young people. Continuous learning is a brilliant way for students to develop their critical thinking skills, reading skills, writing skills, communication skills, time management skills, etc.

Ultimately, continuous learning aids young people in their journey to self discovery, whilst simultaneously setting them up for career and life success. It’s one of the best ways to create well rounded individuals who are excited about learning and the world as you set them up with the skills needed to reach their goals and dreams.

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