On the last day of school, I told my kids I wished I were still a student. I explained “adulting” is hard, and they looked at me like I had five heads.
Truth is, I love school. I’m a self-professed word nerd, but I also love learning about pretty much everything, which is probably why I’m determined to get my master’s degree one of these days.
I guess my love of learning shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, most Americans – 73 percent to be exact – define themselves as lifelong learners.
From do-it-yourself projects to professional development, Americans want to learn, the report found. Most learning occurs in traditional places, but the Internet is quickly becoming a reputable knowledge source.
Of those who responded to the survey, 63 percent of working adults have taken a course or engaged in professional development throughout the last year to improve job skills, mostly for career advancement. Perhaps of special interest to associations, 36 percent of the workforce sought education for a license or certification.
At the same time, 65 percent of those who participated in professional education said learning has expanded their professional networks.
In addition, the report found those with high levels of education were more likely to seek out education. Pew Research Center contends this fact negates the argument that the Internet democratizes education. Again, however, the report said those with lower levels of education turn to the Internet for education.
And the report found those who learn professionally are also more likely to learn personally – more good news for associations/organizations representing recreational industries.
While technology continues to evolve in the education arena, the Pew study found many learners aren’t aware of digital learning options. For example, 61 percent of respondents aren’t aware of distance learning while 80 percent aren’t familiar with massive open online courses (MOOCs). Even fewer learners are aware of digital badges.
In terms of industries, those working in the government sector, more than in other industries, represent the highest number of professional learners. No. 2 was education, followed by nonprofit organizations.
I alluded to this above, but most professionals participate in education at their workplace. The Internet is the second most common platform, followed by an offsite facility, such as a hotel. And, head’s up to associations: Conventions and education programs take the No. 4 spot.
Perhaps not surprising, the report found attitudes about learning shape people’s desire to seek out educational opportunities. Most of us like the idea of lifelong learning, but very few yearn to sit in a classroom. In fact, 58 percent of respondents say they’re constantly looking for opportunities to grow.
“Two large forces are driving fresh interest in the way people learn and why they learn,” said Pew Research Center. “The first force is the rise of the Internet and its disruptive potential for education, both for the formal purpose of gaining extra training and credentials and for the informal purpose of learning new things in hope of personal life enrichment. The second force is the steady advancement of the ‘knowledge economy,’ in which economic value is increasingly derived from working with sources of knowledge and in which more and more jobs are built around knowledge workers who use information to ‘create original knowledge products.’”