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Renowned German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein once said that “wisdom is not a product of schooling, but the lifelong attempt to acquire it” (Hager, 2004 p. 23). Today, more than ever before, I hold these words in very high esteem as I chart my way forward and design my strategies to acquire the ‘wisdom’ that Einstein talked about by undertaking the challenge of lifelong learning. This paper is a blueprint of how I plan to go about achieving the goals of lifelong learning.
To effectively expound on the various dimensions contained in this paper it is imperative that I create a comprehensive understanding of what lifelong learning entails. The European Association of Executives (n.d.) defines lifelong learning as “…all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence within a personal, civic, social, and/or employment-related perspective” (p. 22).
This definition, in my view, demonstrates that learning can no longer be dichotomized into a place and time to acquire knowledge (university) and a place and time to apply the knowledge (the workplace); rather, it is a necessary life-long pursuit of knowledge that I must engage in if I expect to make a difference and invest into the future of my country Saudi Arabia.
Learning Needs Diagnosis
As an individual who would like to take up a career in the domain of mechanical engineering, my learning needs revolve around several issues that I believe are key to not only a successful career in the domain, but also to a life that will assist my immediate community in Saudi Arabia achieve its potential through undertaking philanthropic work.
Consequently, my learning needs into the future include:
- Undertaking a comprehensive management course in a world-class learning institution to assist me realize my dreams of becoming a manager at the Saudi Arabian Oil Company;
- Undertaking short courses in information and communication technology (ICT) to keep abreast of the changing technology trends and learn to use different applications as they hit the marketplace;
- Undertaking short-term engineering courses provided by professional engineering bodies, with the view to constantly update my human capital at a regular interval in order to avoid skills obsolescence. It is clear that “…the durability of knowledge in the fields of science and engineering is much shorter than in other academic fields” (De Grip & Smits, 2012 p. 583), and;
- Undertaking short-term philanthropy and community development courses offered by various accredited institutions, with the view to efficiently and effectively be of service to my community and country.
To date, I am still influenced by the philosophical thought of John Dewey that “…work should assist workers to develop a capacity for judgment applicable beyond their practice at work” (Hager, 2004 p. 23).
To achieve this orientation, it is imperative that my engineering practice and discourse be informed by some overall concepts of purpose and intention that link to practices that are not obviously related to work at all, hence the importance of illuminating my learning objectives.
Overall, my lifelong learning objectives include:
- To Pass all the examinations for the mentioned courses with distinction;
- To internalize the skills and expertise needed to operate effectively and efficiently as a mechanical engineer in the future;
- To successfully transition to the knowledge-based society and be able to use my position as a manager to make positive contributions in others;
- To demonstrate excellent use of contemporary technology applications in my work practice, and;
- To be successful in uplifting the lives of fellow community and country members by helping them to achieve their dreams in life through community development initiatives.
Sources of Learning
Learning should be an integral component of people bent on achieving professionalism and excellency in whatever they decide to do (Williams, 2007). Indeed, extant literature demonstrates that people are always “encouraged to make meaningful choices about their learning and development at different stages of their working lives” (Leader, 2003 p. 361).
Upon graduating from the university, I plan to embrace various dimensions of learning such as the following:
- Learning contracts that will help me to not only identify the skills I shall need for my future practice role, but also to set my objectives in relation to my career and lifestyle:
- Group learning/collaborative learning involving collaborating with other management staff and mentors who share similar interests and orientations;
- Self-directed learning through interacting with professional engineering bodies and undertaking short courses on offer, and also by reading professional engineering articles and periodicals;
- Learning on demand by undertaking short on-line courses offered by various institutions to keep abreast of the various shifts in technology, and;
- Organizational learning through corporate training, technical meetings and on-the-job training.
Implementing Learning Strategies
Adequate financial resourcing is needed to implement life-long learning strategies (Hager, 2004), and I feel highly indebted to the Saudi Arabian Oil Company for standing with me and ensuring that I achieve my objectives in life through the provision of scholarships.
My learning needs revolve around becoming a professional engineer within the management realm, a technology expert having the capacity to apply various innovations and applications in my practice, and a philanthropist who will work with other community members and stakeholders to ensure that others benefit from my progress and insights.
These needs, in essence, translate into my learning options, hence the need to lay the groundwork through which I can successfully satisfy them. In my undertaking to fulfill these needs, it is not lost in me that I must cultivate a positive learning culture and promote positive perceptions of learning and raising awareness of its entitlements and benefits so that others may follow suit (Graff, 2012).
My plan for life-long planning will definitely be facilitated by emerging technologies that ensure flexibility and diversity in learning. Indeed, extant literature suggests that “…flexibility and diversity of learning provision is the cornerstone of an accessible curriculum” (Leader, 2003 p. 366). The Internet and the World Wide Web will be instrumental in ensuring that I achieve my goals of lifelong learning, which are planned as follows.
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Table of Implementation
|Spring 2014||Graduate from ASU with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering|
|Spring 2014||Seek for accreditation from professional engineering bodies in Saudi Arabia|
|2014-2018||Work for the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (sponsoring institution) as a consultant engineer|
|2015||Undertake short examinations with Saudi professional engineering bodies for certification||This will be done using online protocols, but personally financed|
|2016||Enroll into a short management course in an accredited institution of my choice||Course and examination will be done online, but personally financed|
|2018-2020||Undertake a Masters of Business Administration degree program||Course will be done in a graduate school of my choice, with scholarship from ARAMCO|
|2019||Enroll into a short course on community development||Course will be undertaken online using personal finances|
|2020||Enroll into a short course on project management||Course will be undertaken online using personal finances|
|2021-2030||Continue working for ARAMCO in a management domain to achieve more skills and expertise through group learning and organizational learning initiatives|
|2031 onwards||Start my foundation/non-governmental organization (NGO) to assist bright students in poor neighborhoods to achieve their goals in life, particularly in the engineering field||Will learn the NGO as the founder|
|2031 onwards||Open an engineering consultancy firm and employ staff||Will learn the firm as the CEO|
|2033||Undertake a PhD program in project management|
Available literature reinforces a perception in me that lifelong learning should be viewed as a mere option but rather as a fundamentally important necessity (Hager, 2004). Similarly, the various works I have read on lifelong learning has reinforced a belief in me learning should not be confined to childhood or the classroom; rather, it should take place throughout an individual’s life and in a range of contexts (Williams, 2007).
As I take this bold step in designing my lifelong learning plan, I am persuaded to believe that I’ll face many challenges that may trigger some revisions to the plan. However, I believe that this plan will serve as a blueprint to guide me in the pursuit of knowledge for both personal and professional reasons.
De Grip. A., & Smits, W. (2012). What affects lifelong learning of scientists and engineers? International Journal of Manpower, 33(5), 583-597.
European Society of Association Executives. (n.d.). What is lifelong learning? The view from the European Commission. Web.
Graff, J. (2012). Is the grass greener on the other side? Experiential learning, lifelong learning and career shift. On the Horizon, 20(1), 74-83.
Hager, P. (2004). Lifelong learning in the workplace? Challenges and issues. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16(1), 22-32.
Leader, G. (2003). Lifelong learning: Policy and practice in further education. Education + Training, 45(7), 361-370.
Smidt, H., & Sursock, A. (2011). Engaging in lifelong learning: Shaping inclusive and responsive university strategies. Retrieved from https://eua.eu/resources/publications/404:engaging-in-lifelong-learning-shaping-inclusive-and-responsive-university-strategies.html
Williams, M.A. (2007). Lifelong learning: Reflections of a junior doctor. Development & Learning in Organizations, 21(4), 10-11.