There is no better time than the ongoing pandemic to demonstrate the challenge and opportunity that comes from disruption. One thing is clear: Only the agile and those with an appetite to constantly reskill and reinvent themselves will survive and thrive at the workplace.

Perhaps there was no better time for me to come across The 60-Year Curriculum: New Models for Lifelong Learning in the Digital Economy, a book that explores new models of formal lifelong learning in an age of economic disruption and change in the workplace.

I was introduced to this book by one of its co-editors, Chris Dede of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dede, a professor in learning technologies, has been involved in the initiative to develop a 60-year curriculum led by several institutions including the University of California, Irvine; Harvard University; and the University of Washington.

What is the 60-Year Curriculum?

Quite simply, the 60-year curriculum is a new way of looking at education as a process of lifelong learning. Education can no longer be a fixed pipeline with a defined timeline. In other words, your learning will not stop at the celebratory toss of your graduation cap in the air and collecting your degree; it will continue at every stage of your life.

The 60-year curriculum isn’t a written curriculum yet but an evolving model of higher education. It will move away from the idea of preparing you for one job or only your first job and instead, find a way to keep you in a continuous learning mode between the age of 15 and 75 (which is roughly six decades and where the 60 years in this model comes from).

It will be driven largely by the demands of the job market as well as changes in people’s career trajectories, both in terms of longevity and skills required. This will help people cope with disruptions in the job market and allow them to have not one or two but multiple careers throughout their lives. It will also help learners develop the flexibility to shift between changing job roles and requirements.

Think about it, life expectancy has grown by three months for every year since 1840. This means each of us will stay in the workforce for longer. Moreover, we have already witnessed and will continue to see existing jobs becoming obsolete and new skill sets in demand.

What would this curriculum offer?

Universities have been experimenting with this idea in the form of standalone programs or through their continuing education departments. This model aims to fully integrate the idea in an institutional set-up so that it becomes the way of learning for every learner who walks through a university’s doors.

The 60-year curriculum model includes several ideas and proposals. One of them is to offer mini-degrees in specific competency areas to allow students to continuously stock up and revamp their learning credentials closet.

There will also have to be multiple ways of learning to cater to a disparate group of learners in terms of age, qualifications, industries, and even geographical spread. This will require a large component of remote learning and the use of digital learning technologies for several purposes such as delivering courses, engaging learners, tracking progress, personalizing, and facilitating collaboration.

Finally, career services, guidance, coaching, and mentoring will be an integral part of this model to close the loop on making learners prepared for a dynamic job landscape.

Who is the ideal learner in this model?

A comprehensive and institutionalized set-up for lifelong learning that matches the changing demands of the job market will benefit everyone.

But this institutional support and resources won’t mean much unless you are an eager and adept learner who knows how to leverage them. Harappa’s Learning Expertly course teaches you exactly that.

A concept covered in this course is the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset. Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, has studied learners and learning behaviors closely over the last 30 years. She determined that people usually exhibit either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe their learning potential is predetermined and cannot change. These people will avoid venturing into unknown territories or learning new skills.

In contrast, those with a growth mindset believe that they have a limitless learning potential, which will keep growing with practice and passion. Such learners look forward to challenges and learning new things.

The Learning Expertly course also covers some fascinating concepts and frameworks such as the Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle, Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle, Lateral Curiosity. All of these go into the making of an expert learner who can meet the demands of a fast-paced and dynamic environment.

Reading this book and completing the course has taught me that “learning never stops” is not just a cliche but a necessity to navigate disruption throughout your working life.


Forge the ability to reason and evaluate situations with the Reasoning Logically course under the Think Habit from Harappa Education. Build your skills with our online courses and achieve workplace success.

Saumya is a Specialist in the Curriculum Team at Harappa Education. She is also a pistol shooter and a devoted snacker who loves finding simple ways to express complex ideas.

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