“The ability to learn is a basic prerequisite for humans and animals to adapt to life and the environment, act meaningfully within them, and, if necessary, change them in their interest.”


Since I had a 30-year-old seminar participant a few years ago who told me: “I am too old to learn”, I have been thinking again and again about how I can successfully shape learning for myself and my seminar participants in the future.

How do we (learn) as children?

I heard an interesting statement from a friend the other day: “I registered my child in a forest kindergarten. I looked at the kindergarten and found the usual toys missing. When I asked why I didn’t see any toys, I got the answer that this was not necessary for children to learn. Everything is available in the “forest”. As I watched the children, I observed their busy occupations.

Even as adults, we can continue to learn into old age. We learn differently than children. Adults need a push to learn.

Companies invest time and money in the training and development of their employees and offer a wide range of training opportunities, from particular topics to entire programmes.

When do I personally enjoy learning?

  • I am fascinated by new things; others are frightened by new things.
  • I need to clarify the purpose of learning. It can have an application background. It can also simply be a topic that interests me or is new. Sometimes I just get started.
  • With some topics, I have a goal (degree, certificate); with other issues, I behave in a very “agile” way: I learn one module, and then the next one follows.
  • I focus on short sequences in a quiet environment. Others like longer blocks and background music.
  • I like to try out and apply what I have learned immediately. Others want to learn “on the fly”.
  • I like to exchange with a learning partner or in a group, which brings me additional aspects, new thoughts and fields of application.
  • I don’t like to learn by heart, but I want to understand, recognise an overall context and classify what I have learned.
  • I am someone who learns all the time. If you have to re-start with learning, it probably takes longer to get going again. I am and remain – like in sport – in practice.
  • I like to make notes.
  • Fresh air and exercise help me process and retain what I have learned.
  • I like learning through play; others find it childish. 
  • I hate losing. I don’t need a “medal”, but I like to win. Others love to be winners to get an award/certificate.

What I always remind myself as a trainer: Learning is not the same for all people. Everyone has different “learning channels” and experiences.

The future of learning

Learning methods and technologies will change a lot in the future, also for adults. The content, how we learn, and the learning speed will increase significantly.

Here are a few theses:

  • School and home will no longer be (only) about imparting knowledge, but above all about teaching children how to learn independently, i.e. learning “to learn” as one of the main subjects.
  • The school for children will no longer be a place of learning. It will be a place to gain practical experience. There will no longer be an educational catalogue for employees but instead targeted knowledge transfer and acquisition with online sequences and complementary practical experience exchange.
  • Learning in companies will no longer be oriented only towards knowledge but more towards competence.
  • Learning is increasingly modularised and personalised, i.e. taught in small bites, very demand-oriented, and less in large blocks.
  • In the future, we will be increasingly responsible for our learning. We will have to and be allowed to shape and organise it ourselves. 
  • We will have to learn in a fault-tolerant way, i.e. trying things out may also be associated with mistakes and a new attempt. 
  • Learning will be able to be more geared to the individual, their learning preferences and experiences.
  • As a trainer, my job will change from teaching adults to being a learning facilitator.

Learning trends and current methods:

As adults, most of us still find it very difficult. We have learned to learn differently. Children grow up very differently due to the current pandemic situation and will also learn differently in the future. Digital methods will play an increasingly important role. 

Online learning is no longer just due to Corona but is becoming the norm. Especially in the further development of adults, digital learning also has advantages: It can be easily integrated into my everyday life, and I can learn when I have time and feel like it.

Some examples of learning trends:

  • Blended learning

In blended learning – “integrated learning” – presence and online are combined. First, knowledge is acquired online by the learner whenever they have time and feels like it. At agreed times, the learner can contact a teacher, ask questions, and discuss and work through topics.

  • Learning Nuggets

Learning Nuggets are online “learning snacks”: small learning units that give a short upgrade or classification on a specific topic. A concrete problem or a current occasion can be the trigger. Short texts, videos, charts and a small quiz on various topics are also learning nuggets.

  • Micro-Learning

Micro learnings are short learning sessions with explicit and condensed content. They can be quickly processed and immediately implemented or tried out.

  • Learning in the online community

An exciting possibility is the formation of communities on the internet. In online communities (e.g. Twitter, Linkedin) in the social networks, short information and messages are presented and exchanged, sometimes in telegram style. 

  • Barcamps

Barcamps are events with an open workshop concept in which participants are very much involved in shaping the event. Barcamps can be thematically completely unrestricted or organised around a specific theme, such as “learning”. However, in this type of event, the areas of “offline” and “online” merge at a Barcamp. Additionally, the individual sessions are also diligently tweeted under the specific hashtag of the Barcamp.

  • Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) will increasingly play a role in learning in the future, both in schools and in adult education. AI in learning adapts learning content and learning methods to the preferences and prior knowledge of the learner. It controls an individually tailored learning experience and specific learning content.

  • Coaching

In coaching, the coach works together with his coachee on the coachee’s professional and private development. Wishes are identified, problem areas discussed, and strategies for concrete measures developed. The coachee develops further, achieves success and improves his mental well-being.

  • Peer-to-peer coaching

Peer-to-peer coaching means “collegial exchange”. Colleagues form a learning community where they advise each other on defined topics and develop joint strategies.

  • Gamification

Gamification introduces elements of play into a non-play context, that is, what we enjoyed as children. It appeals to our human play instinct. 

As a child, we learn a lot with games, puzzles, Lego, card or arithmetic games, handicrafts, and trying things out. The fun of playing is combined with a learning effect and thus also increases the motivation to learn. The learners are committed to their work, absorb what they have learned more quickly, and better remember the contents and experiences.

More minor elements also create motivation: progress bars, a quiz to check learning results, badges, coupons as rewards, certificates, points accounts, ranking lists, graphic elements, and avatars connect learning and the fun of playing. This works for children as well as for adults.

The bottom line is: that the future of learning will be much different in terms of content and method. If we engage with it, it will also be fun.

When do you enjoy learning (also in the future)?

I would be happy to discuss this with you, dear reader.

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