Education vs. Learning

Education used to be a milestone. Study hard enough until your late twenties and you would become educated. Prepared for the challenges to come in your job as an accountant, banker, doctor, economist, engineer, or lawyer. Educate yourself right, and you could hang your diploma on the wall and use whatever knowledge you gained to earn a living all the way until retirement.

Approach education in the same way today and, after four-five years of study, you will probably be left jobless and irrelevant as your work gets automated by machines and software. In the 21st century, education is no longer a milestone that, once achieved, gives you a map for success and prosperity.

Today, there are no maps. Technology is transforming each and every industry. Professions are becoming increasingly complicated and automated. We have yet to see the full impact of this transition when it truly takes place. Until then, the best that we can do is to adapt and prepare for a new kind of future.

In a society that changes as fast and as unpredictably as ours, education is replaced by learning. And we, as individuals, companies, and institutions, must adapt.

  • Education is a milestone. Learning is a process.
  • Education is mandatory. Learning is open and participative.
  • Education is defined by industry and standardized by institutions. Learning is individual and tailored to the priorities of the learner.
  • Education is designed to give you generic skills for a career. Through learning, you gain in-demand knowledge and skills for a job.

The shift from education to learning is already happening. Master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, professional certificates, and specialization certificates are now available on Coursera. MicroMasters, professional certificate, and XSeries certificate programs taught by Ivy League schools are now available on edX.

Accredited degrees and diplomas for the digital age are springing up from institutions like Digital Skills Academy. And companies like Google are creating their own education programs like Squared Online and the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.

Alternative education programs, like Seth Godin’s altMBA, are gaining more and more popularity. All of them are designed to take your professional mindset and skill set to the next level in no more than a month.

Continuous, lifetime, and remote learning is the new reality. Academic, full-time, four-year education is gradually turning into a thing of the past. And it’s completely up to you how you’re going to make us of and contribute to this transition.