Moving Beyond Personalized Learning to Personal Learning Ecologies

In the global learning ecosystem of 2020, we will have personal learning ecologies that span and stretch our boundaries.

This forecast from the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning by KnowledgeWorks and the Institute for the Future evokes a powerful metaphor for learning across a lifelong continuum. If you have a learning ecology, you have more than order and continuity. You have the potential for a personalized and interconnected system of changing relationships and experiences that sustain and nourish your life.

Does your approach to learning have the qualities of an ecosystem or do you close yourself off to all but a few routine and reliable sources? No ecosystem sustains itself without renewal and evolution. Where do you encounter new ideas and challenges to learn?

Education institutions may not be as essential in these personal learning ecologies. Other organizations and networks like professional and trade associations may be more adept at creating collaborative platforms that connect us with our collective intelligence.

We may choose to have personal education advisors or learning journey mentors who can help us create, nurture and maintain our personal learning ecologies. When we select these advisors and mentors, we will look for people whose personal learning ecologies are healthy enough to sustain their aspirations and offer enough stimulation and nourishment for our own. 

Instead of relying on degrees held and certifications to demonstrate to the world what we have learned, we could let our personal data trails reveal even more about where and what we have learned along our own personalized learning journey. We could construct personal portfolios documenting our journey to establish our reputation and mastery of critical knowledge and skills.

By 2020, we could be well on our way to having personalized systems of learning that better match the complexity and vitality of the world in which we now live and work.