Lasandra Conliffe or
Ontario Tech University


This chapter aims to share knowledge on the impact of technology on lifelong learning (LLL). The paper also aims to connect technology support to lifelong learning development using 21st Century skills (motivation, sociability, metacognition, and problem-solving) to enhance growth and personal development. Covid-19 also exposed many education institutions and companies to a gap in the Lifelong learning sector and facilitated retraining and upskilling of employees and students as job stabilization was impacted heavily. Applying Bronfenbrenner’s ecological principles and Connectivism (Downes, 2022) supports the idea that lifelong learning can be a continual process that supports technology implementation through formal, informal, and non-formal learning approaches. With the formation and creation of LLL through a digitized platform, the recommendation is to use an ADR model (Sien et al., 2011) for developing the curriculum. Educational Interface prevalent in LLL highlighted an extensive use of technology in learning from social media such as Facebook (Meta, 2022) and Twitter (2022), video, such as YouTube (n.d.) and Tedtalk (Ted Conferences, n.d.) to various LMS and applications such as Canvas (Instructure, 2022) and Zoom (2022). The future recommendation will be to look at a model where employees can learn on their own and where employers can benefit from the LLL of their employees, but not forgetting the challenges that each employee may face when using technology for relearning and having equitable access to the learning. LLL is never a one-size fit approach.


21st Century, Adult Learning, Covid-19, Globalization, Lifelong Learning, Retraining, Technology


Traditionally, learners have been instructed to get as much education as possible and enter the job market. Still, lifelong learning is essential with the lifespan of workers extending beyond 65 and the influence of the 21st Century competencies skills. These competencies include critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, and innovations and communication requirements. Lifelong learning (LLL) is self-initiated learning that continues after the formal learning process for personal growth and development (Valamis, 2022). Qualification and requirements with university education are limited now as upskilling and relearning are very important in job advancement and personal growth.

Technology plays a significant part in creating new occupations in today’s labour market, and the market has adapted by offering a diverse range of technology courses (Fastiggi & Fastiggi, 2017). After formal education, workers must pursue these courses; and become lifelong learners to compete in today’s job market. However, lifelong learning is a habit that begins in school. To foster lifelong learning habits, mandatory education should prioritize metacognition – the skill of learning how to learn (Fastiggi & Fastiggi, 2017). The digital era is expanding the technological landscape, significantly impacting lifelong learning and the requirement for problem-solving abilities (Nygren et al., 2019). Virtual reality (VR) and distance education have enabled lifelong learners to develop motivation and sociability (Coban & Goksu, 2022). Moreover, technology has allowed lifelong learners to learn anywhere, anytime (Laal, 2011).

Theoretical Background

The scientific study of how active, developing individuals accommodate themselves to the changing characteristics of their surrounding environment throughout their life is known as the Ecology of Human Development (Bronfenbrenner, 1989). Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theories posited that a different context influences learning ecologies from childhood to adulthood, combining changes in spaces and experience. As these ecologies keep changing to accommodate the 21st-century core competencies, it can be assumed that the technological landscape constantly influences learning ecologies through formal, non-formal and informal learning (Nygren et al., 2019). LLL is highly influenced by connectivism theory, as learning is engaged through digital learning ecologies. Downes (2022) positioned that learning is the expansion, development, alteration, or strengthening of the connections that make up knowledge, where changes in one entity may cause changes in the other. Lifelong learning links all areas of life from childhood to adulthood, workplace to home, and formal, non-formal to informal contexts (Laal, 2011). With the links to all areas of life, lifelong learning learners should be given the necessary tools and access to tools to succeed. The development of rich digital learning ecologies that enable new methods for people to connect, supporting the sharing of knowledge and providing tools and artifacts, has been influenced by the internet and unique technical ecologies solutions (Nygren et al., 2019). According to Looi et al. (2009), understanding how people learn in formal, non-formal, and informal learning situations is crucial, especially considering how digitization has changed lifelong learning.

Learning Interface and Education System

Lifelong learning interacts with multiple digital interfaces that enable the development of a skillset, allowing for job advancement and educational and other personal growth. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TedTalk, as well as programs like Google Classroom, Zoom, and other learning management systems (LMS-Canvas), are all available as part of the ecosystem of lifelong learning involvement with technology (Laal, 2013). Learners are engaged using mobile learning through internet connections. Laal (2011) positioned that all learning activities throughout life should improve knowledge, skills, and competencies, and those educational institutions should provide the necessary facilities that meet the needs to assist learners with developing competencies. These networks support seamless access to learner facilities at work and home, providing quick access from anywhere (Laal, 2011). Whether learning online (e-learning) from a synchronous or asynchronous experience, lifelong learning can create a skill set that will allow for further development and 21st-century competencies acquisition such as motivation, sociability, and metacognition.

Skills Development through LLL with Technology

Using new technology and digital literacies fosters an effective learning environment and develops new skills, which is critical in the LLL process. According to Coban & Goksu (2022), the research found that when engaged with online VR, participants were more involved with motivation and perceived sociability than when engaged in a web-based environment. Being immersed in a real authentic situation from a VR perspective was more effective; this mode of education enables students to socialize and increase their motivation for the learning process (Coban & Goksu, 2022). Jiang and Zhang (2020) stated that sociability activities in the digital world strengthen students’ social space and collaborative contacts. Technology also allows users to develop metacognition, which can be completed by offering interactive multimedia programmes encouraging student-centred learning opportunities for taking theoretical perspectives of learning and creating design models to study and demonstrate these theoretical views (Gordon, 1996).

The effects of lifelong learning on society and how it interacts with technology can improve social inclusion, active citizenship, individual growth, competitiveness, and employability. (Cronholm, 2021). Although skilled learners do develop specific employable skills, if the curriculum is not designed with particular principles, then LLL will not be engaging and motivating to students to achieve these 21st-century competencies. Cronholm (2021) posited that due to Covid-19 and the growing demand for corporations and education institutions’ growing demand for lifelong learning, there needs to be up-to-date knowledge regarding digital technology and its impact on the lifelong learning environment.

The Pandemic and Organizational Lifelong Learning

Organizations worldwide need to maintain their competitive edge by pursuing lifelong learning opportunities for their workforce. The demand for online courses is increasing and needed, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic (Cronholm, 2021). Lifelong learning is the development of continuous learning that expands into personal learning related to business core values and interconnected competencies that support team building, teaching, and communication (Cronholm, 2021). Hence engagement in the globalization of technology must be implemented, allowing for retraining and upskilling of their labour force. When companies or educational institutions develop their LLL initiatives, they should consider the method Sein et al. (2011) proposed (Cronholm, 2021). This method of Action, Design, and Research (ADR) looks at four critical stages; problem formulation, building intervention and evaluation, reflection and learning and formalizing and learning (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Action, Design & Research stages, and principles. Sein et al. 2011 (Cronholm, 2022 p.43)

Figure 1. Action, Design & Research stages, and principles. Sein et al. 2011 (Cronholm, 2022 p.43)

During Covid-19 , many institutions and businesses were faced with and exposed to challenges in the technology environment (Otamas et al., 2021). The Covid-19 pandemic revealed challenges to learning via technology ecologies, but LLL also faced the problem of the 21st century; the mismatch between the qualifications of professionals (Otamas et al., 2021) comparative to the global economy. According to Otamas et al. (2021), the world economic forum stated that the demand for digital and human factors would grow; therefore, it is important to provide youths and society with lifelong learning, especially during the pandemic and other world-related issues. The uniqueness of digital competencies is needed; “the rapid spread of digital technologies makes digital skills (competencies) key among other skills…digitization and cross-platform are now main trends in the labour markets” (Otamas et al., 2021, p.1135).

Applications that support Lifelong Learning

Several applications are prevalent to support online learning. What is recommended depends on your interest and passion. As a lifelong learner, personal, informal, formal, or non-formal development should rely on your organization’s goals. These applications can support your continued learning and that of the organization. These applications will be divided into “General Education Platform and Specific Educational learning” (Humphries, 2022). Within the General education platform, applications such as Ted Talks, Khan Academy and big education platforms such as; LinkedIn Learning and Coursera (Humphries, 2022).   The recommendation for these two applications is geared towards professional designation and certification. Ted Talks and Khan Academy are not certifiable and will apply to a more non-formalized lifelong learning.

Within the specific education learning, the recommendation for LLL depends on the exact help to focus on a particular interest; Codecademy, Duolingo and SparkNotes (Humphries, 2022) are ideal for specific lifelong learning interests. Codecademy teaches basic coding skills, while Duolingo helps you learn any desired languages. Sparknotes is an application that supports essay writing and study habits. Overall using these applications within the LLL environment can promote passion and employable skills.

Future Recommendations and Conclusion

Although learning with technology can create many challenges, such as equitable access, retraining on specific tools, and having an effective learning environment, the benefits outweigh the challenges. Lifelong learning and globalization are critical for advancement and upskilling within the global economy. The pandemic has highlighted the need to train, re-educate, or teach, whether formal, non-formal, or informal. 21st Century competencies skills are critical for our adult and non-adult learners to continue their lifelong learning development.

Covid-19 has highlighted the social benefits for adult learners unable to engage in face-to-face learning during online learning (Waller et al., 2021). Waller et al. (2021) noted that as a lifelong educator, it is important to be aware that adult learners who participate in lifelong learning won’t be able to socialize face-to-face within the online platform. We must meet these appropriate challenges to address the lack of social connection online. Dudko (2016) positioned those two models of lifelong e-learning; that allow students to learn at their own pace, and we can utilize these methods so that all LLLs can maximize their potential. To increase organizational effectiveness and improve current and future chances for employees and employers to adopt lifetime e-learning to enhance organizational performance (Dudko, 2016). Dudko (2016) claims that the model illustrates the incentives of employers to encourage lifelong e-learning possibilities by implementing e-learning programmes for staff. Encouraging LLL for the team leads to the model’s second component, which creates profitability for the organization.

Whatever method we employ in the continuum of lifelong learning, the best possible form of learner engagement and technology is to understand that globalization, 21-century skills, and new information technology are changing the way humans think and process information. The move to make education a global worldwide system did not just happen; it has been happening. Educators must understand how to implement the lifelong learning process jointly using technology. Lifelong learning can be flexible, diversified, and open at various times and locations, thanks to living in a digital age where technology is readily available everywhere. Education is no longer limited to the traditional classroom, and digital technology enables teaching to be a diverse approach thanks to technology and its numerous accesses to knowledge at our fingertips.


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Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2022 Copyright © 2022 by lasandrac is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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