Future skills #metalearning

Photo by Steve Wheeler
Lately, I'm asked to speak on this subject more than any other. The idea of future skills for learning is widely debated in all sectors, but for me, the answer is the same, whether you are a primary school student or a participant in learning and development in a large organisation. Today, the most important skills seem to be focused on one ability - learning to learn, or meta learning.

Why is learning to learn so important? Knowing how, where and when we best learn is important in a world of constant change and disruption where there is an over-abundance of opportunity to swamp our senses with information. Knowing why we learn best in a particular way, or specific environment is also crucial. Being agile and flexible is not enough in this rapidly changing, media rich and multiple stimulus world. It is so easy to become distracted and diverted in the digital age, so the ability to maintain focus is an important aspect of knowing how we best learn.

John Biggs described meta learning as reaching a state of 'being aware of, and taking control of our own learning' (Biggs, 1985). It involves managing our perceptions, expectations and practices to optimise the time we spend acquiring new knowledge and skills. It also involves avoiding practices that divert our energy and attention away from genuine learning. In the digital age, where we are constantly bombarded with content, it is about making sense of what is necessary and relevant, discerning good from bad content, and discarding that which is extraneous or invalid. There is a connection here also to the theory of heutagogy, which in Blaschke et al's terms, places the learner at the centre, as 'the primary driver of the learning process and experience.' (Blaschke, Kenyon and Has, 2014).

Learning to learn is vital for everyone in the digital age. There are many other future skills we need - skills to thrive and learn in the future. In the next few posts I'll explore some in detail. Any commentary and discussion on this is are very welcome in the box below.

Biggs, J. B. (1985) The role of meta-learning in study process. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 55, 185-212.
Blaschke, L. M., Kenyon, C. and Hase, S. (2014) Experiences in Self Determined Learning. Leipzig: Amazon Distribution.  

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Future skills #metalearning by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Michele Ricci said…
Steve it would be good to share with the readers some techniques to develop and boost metalearning. Do you have something like this to share?
Michele Ricci said…
How the learners can boost metaconitive development and reach deeper consciousness by means of digital technologies? Thinking by Blogging e.g. is a technique of metacognition development if exercised with a specific consciousness. If used at every age but also already with kids in primary schools can help trainers/teachers to facilitate the development of a level of sciousness that with a paper and a pen is difficult to achieve due, among other things, to the speed factor... also twitting can be a metacognitove excersice if used with certain objectives (e.g. creating a summary of a live speach helps to understand how concepts are correlated to build a simple abstract view of the syllogism and is a technique to amplify ideas association capabilities) what do you think?

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