Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

4 October 2006

Slow Learning <> Lifelong Learning

Clark @ 9:23 AM

My colleague, and Adobe’s Ambassador for eLearning, Ellen Wagner, was teasing me this morning about whether my interest in ‘slow learning’ isn’t just “lifelong learning”. Frankly, I hadn’t looked at lifelong learning, but my initial take was that it wasn’t.

So, I googled “lifelong learning” and the wikipedia entry confirmed my suspicions:

Lifelong education is a form of pedagogy often accomplished through distance learning or e-learning, continuing education, homeschooling or correspondence courses.

I realize that this is undoubtedly not all of lifelong learning, this bit elaborates a bit:

Lifelong learning sees citizens provided with learning opportunities at all ages and in numerous contexts: at work, at home and through leisure activities, not just through formal channels such as school and higher education.

Which could be what I’m talking about, but I want to be very clear about what I mean by ‘slow learning’. Not to diminish the importance of the other components, but the concept I’m talking about is not receiving sufficient attention and I want to tease it out.What I’m talking about with slow learning are little interventions dribbled out over long periods of time. The metaphor is not attending an event, but having a personal mentor guiding you throughout your life, with an intervention pattern of a small amount of content or activity at a particular moment.

While there’s a role for the course, there’re problems. Some behaviors and attitudes are not amenable to quick fixes. Other changes are really long sequences of development. We need courses, but I want to argue that a useful, perhaps necessary, adjunct is a long-term development approach.

So there, Ellen!


  1. […] Clark and I are pals. I rarely read his blog, preferring to kibbitz over a microbrew, but the models piqued my curiosity. Clark’s concept of slow learning is right on. It’s a compelling way of looking at learning as a process, not an event. This is in sync with George Siemens’ way of looking at knowledge: it’s subjective; it’s shared; it’s an accumulation of info-scraps and connections; it never ends. […]

    Pingback by Informal Learning Blog :: Quinnovative models — 20 November 2006 @ 12:13 PM

  2. […] post on Designing for an uncertain world. In it, he talks about “a pedagogy that looks at slow development over […]

    Pingback by Do People Learn Like Buildings Do? « The Usable Learning Blog — 3 May 2010 @ 6:54 AM

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