Life Long e-Learning

Position Paper | Year 2002
Life Long e-Learning

This report discusses the role of e-learning in life long  learning from the following hypothesis: the need for lifelong learning stemming from the knowledge of society, can largely be met by smart use of the tools that created the information society, i.e. the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The full implementation of lifelong e-learning in our society will require a drastic attitude shift at all levels and among all actors involved: learners, teachers, educational institutions, enterprises and public authorities. Innovative concepts and scenarios are presented: delta-learning, diploma with service contract, learning on demand, virtual universities, and virtual enterprises.

Requirements and critical success factors are identified at various levels: the learner (motivation, learning skills), the resources (availability, recyclability of learning materials), the courses and programmes (quality assurance, tutoring, learning management systems, personal portfolios, credits), the content providers (intellectual property rights, costs) and the education and training organisations (partnerships, management structures, networking).

Lifelong learning has implications for the educational chain: a change in the roles and time sequences of initial education and continuing education. New models for the learning-working time seaquence, namely, dual learning, part time learning, and learning sabbaticals are discussed.

Two successful cases in Flanders are reviewed: the interuniversity-industry courses of informatics and advanced telecommunications. Finally future developments will require action research as well as fundamental research. 

Conclusive results indicate that in recent years important e-learning developments have taken root in Flanders and Europe, but that continuing education still lacks the management structures and financing systems needed for sustainable development and operation.

Therefore a 'Flemish e-learning action plan' is recommended, implying a large scale attitude-shift action (from primary to higher education as well as in industry and society at large) and the creation of the necessary management and financial structures. This being the case, the creation of a "Virtual University for Flanders" as an operational partner structure involving government, education and industry is strongly recommended for consideration.

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