The Learning Ecosystems Living Lab aims to create a global community that looks at innovative ways to learn in different regions
The importance of different segments of society coming together to solve key global challenges, especially when it comes to developing innovative ways of doing things, has been underscored in 2020. And Qatar Foundation’s global education think tank WISE has launched a new initiative to further this spirit of collaboration to evolve education models.
Learning Ecosystems Living Lab (LELL), the latest push by WISE to disrupt linear models of education worldwide, will regularly bring together practitioners, experts, policymakers, and innovators to create a global community of practice and thought-leadership that is designing Learning Ecosystems for different regions of the world.
WISE defines Learning Ecosystems as “diverse combinations of providers (schools, businesses, community organizations, as well as government agencies) creating new learning opportunities and pathways to success. They are usually supported by an innovative credentialing system or technology platforms that replace or augment the traditional linear system of examinations and graduation.”
The new initiative was launched virtually with LELL’s first digital panel titled “Designing Vibrant and Purposeful Learning Communities.” The panel brought together education experts from around the world to discuss challenges in creating learning ecosystems and discuss their development using examples from various regional contexts.
Alexandra Agudelo, Minister of Education in Medellín, Colombia, gave a keynote address at the panel highlighting how her city used formal and non-formal education systems to become a “learning city.”
We want to create an ecosystem where the learning of people is embedded in the city, and everyone can have access to education
“We want to create an ecosystem where the learning of people is embedded in the city, and everyone can have access to education, with inclusion throughout their life from early childhood onwards,” said Agudelo, adding that the collaborative platforms like WISE’s LELL initiative can play an instrumental role in filling the gaps in education systems.
“Through partnerships with different organizations, we can reimagine education and have more sustainable goals beyond 2030 or 2050. Educational development might be slow, but we need to keep going and support each other, especially in these kinds of difficult times brought on by COVID-19.”.
While theoretical foundations of Learning Ecosystems are gaining wide traction, the LELL initiative aims build a community of practice and practical guidelines on how to create and manage Learning Ecosystems.
A Learning Ecosystem is about key stakeholders coming together about why learning is important from a social and economic perspective
David Atchoarena, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and a speaker on the LELL panel, said that these ecosystems do not need to be limited to just enhancing learning, but should also aim to serve other purposes like employment, welfare, social cohesion, and public health.
Meanwhile, panelist Soon Joo Gog, Chief Research Officer and Chief Skills Office at SkillsFuture Singapore Agency, highlighted Singapore as an example where Learning Ecosystems are being used to research how skills are changing with transformation of global and regional economies, and how new jobs and educational opportunities can cater for these new skills.
We need a more holistic vision for education. Of course, the school system is key, but it’s not enough
“A Learning Ecosystem is about key stakeholders coming together about why learning is important from a social and economic perspective, and how we can design an alignment to make the supply and demand of learning have a socio-economic outcome for citizens. It involves closing the skills gap and anticipating what type of learning is needed in what spaces,” said Gog.
Other panelists at the event included Sébastien Turbot, CEO and Chief Curator at eko6, and Rosie Clayton, Co-Founder of Weaving Lab. They all discussed various ways in which coalitions can be formed to enhance learning and education development in different parts of the world to take the burden off formal education institutes and better prepare for the multidimensional needs of learning in our fast-changing world.
“We need a more holistic vision for education. Of course, the school system is key, but it’s not enough,” said Atchoarena. “If you want to promote lifelong learning, you can’t just invest in schools. We need to move beyond the education system and go into private sectors such as digital learning and workplace learning.”