Michelle Weise is the author of Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet. Michelle is also a Senior Advisor at the philanthropic investment group, Imaginable Futures. On this episode, she joins Mike Palmer to discuss her new book and how we can reimagine our learning ecosystem in response to longer lifespans, automation, and rapid transformation of the 21st Century.
We begin with Michelle’s origin story, how she moved from being an English professor into educational technology including stints at Clayton Christensen’s Institute for Disruptive Innovation, Southern New Hampshire University, and Strada Education Network. Michelle notes the difficulty of predicting actual future careers, and how her book focuses on the type of worker and the type of problem solver we all need to become. We need to offload much of the current tasks that AI can do better while developing both our “human-plus” skills as well as the technical expertise required to exercise judgment.
Mike and Michelle discuss “T-shaped” learners, and how they develop over a long career. Michelle talks about later-life learners, and how they can profitably upskill. Pursuing a four-year degree may not appeal to 55+ learners, and even the current MOOCs may not meet their needs.
Given all the challenges, Mike asks Michelle to provide some hope. She tells him how Clay Christensen helped her stay optimistic, and how the wide variety of innovators should stick to the shared agenda of creating a robust ecosystem: breaking down the walls that obtain between K-12, higher ed, and workforce learning. And how the pandemic has further exposed this need.
Mike and Michelle discuss the work of Suzanne Simard regarding the surprising subterranean ecosystem of trees and how it can serve as a model of the idealized education ecosystem. They then discuss the power of such metaphors. They also note David Epstein’s Range, and the importance of the generalist in the world of specialization. “Far transfer” is also on the table.
Finally, Michelle discusses “skills compasses”. Enterprises often do not know the skills their employees have, and let them go despite their potential usefulness. She notes a few innovative companies that help those laid off find the training they need to meet the skills demanded in their labor market.
There’s plenty to explore in this conversation you don’t want to miss!
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