Higher education is facing exceptional challenges due to an increased complexity on the labour market. The work life of today is highly specialized and demands continuous education, i.e. lifelong learning. Higher education must focus on developing competencies for work life, beyond traditional theoretical knowledge . To cater for these demands, higher education must adopt more application-oriented and trans-disciplinary research . Moreover, colleges and universities could more systematically take responsibility for career development and adjust curricula for both traditional and non-traditional students . A crucial question to address is how higher education could foster a student to become a “lifelong learner”? From a pedagogical perspective, it is of course vital to teach a student how to learn , aiming at achieving the skill to become a self-directed learner. Interestingly, it is argued that the qualities for being a proactive and agentic learner in higher education are the very same abilities required for effective professional practice . We need to use educational strategies, e.g. work-integrated learning (WiL), as a part of the preparation of becoming an agentic learner, that permit them to successfully negotiate, engage and learn from what they are afforded, for both personal and professional outcomes . Furthermore, we need to adopt important key factors that support fostering agentic learners .
In parallel to pedagogical strategies and key factors, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) could play an important role for continuous learning [8-10]. Research shows that over the recent years, social media has been pointed out as a tool, not only for external communication, but also for informal learning within organizations [11-14].
In this paper we wish to suggest a combination where important pedagogical strategies are combined with ICT-support. Moreover, we wish to suggest a strategy for how this combination could be practiced in higher education, making the transfer to work life smoother.
We acknowledge that students of today most often have good knowledge of the use of various digital tools such as Facebook, Youtube etc. This is however often constrained to the use of various platforms and tools for entertainment and social contacts. How these tools can be used for learning portfolios, both during their studies and for lifelong learning, is less known and used. We suggest that students during their education choose digital tools based on individual preferences and build a personal learning environment (PLE) . The PLE should include “open tools”, such tools are available outside closed systems within organizations, in order to be useful also after graduation. The student has the possible to develop and re-use knowledge of tools and platforms to work in the new context, working life. However, the use of a PLE will not in itself do the trick.
Portfolio is one of many tools to assess learning. When the digital development progressed and applications on the Internet has expanded, the portfolio characteristics can be changed to the e-portfolio . We advocate that both teachers and student need support for developing pedagogical strategies that optimize the use of ICT and aims at fostering agentic learners. We suggest that an e-portfolio may constitute such a joint support.
In this paper we will show that an e-portfolio and PLE can support important factors for fostering agentic learners who in an efficient way take advantage of modern ICT. In sum, we suggest an approach for fostering “digitalized agentic learners”.