On 11 November at 12:15 Tiiu Männiste will defend her doctoral thesis „Lifelong Learning in a Transforming Society“.
professor emeritus Peeter Vihalemm
Professor Marju Lauristin
Professor Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, PhD, Malmö Ülikool, Rootsi professor Krista Loogma, PhD, Tallinna Ülikool
The present PhD thesis "Lifelong Learning in a Transforming Society” analyzes the trends and possibilities of lifelong learning in Estonia during the periods of post-communist transition (1987-2004) and post-transition (2004-2014), and within the conditions of the undergoing digital transformation. The empirical results derive from the qualitative research (interviews with learners and expert interviews) carried out by the author, and from the analysis of the data from the survey “Mina. Maailm. Meedia.“ (MeeMa, or “Me. The World. The Media.” in English) by the University of Tartu Institute of Social Studies. The thesis provides an overview of the changes in the approaches to and practices of lifelong learning in Estonia. Lifelong learning meant coping with the changes during the transition and it had the function of initiating innovations, which assumed contribution from both the learners and the state. At the beginning of pivotal times, the labor world was the first to respond to the changes, the entrepreneurs who embraced the innovations were quicker to contribute to new skills across all the stages of the transition period. However, the fast and decisive transition of Estonia to the liberal market economy did not favor developments in social field of the society, which brought along hasty stratification processes that were reflected in the development of lifelong learning as well as in the stratum of a great number of passive and non-participating member of the society. The more stable stage that followed the pivotal changes, witnessed movement towards a more learner-centered arrangement of lifelong learning that also took the abilities and possibilities of the learner into account. The thesis emphasizes the new challenges of lifelong learning in the digital era, and problems in work environments with varying levels of technology. The lifelong learning policies carried out with the support of project-based economy cannot keep up with the current technological changes in the labor world anymore. With the stratified options in the field of lifelong learning, the learner activity as well as their ability to independently acquire new skills are becoming more and more important; so is their ability to navigate in the versatile and limitless digital environment. The thesis studies the links between work environment and learning motivation and provides the typology of the learners operating in the field of lifelong learning today. Consequently, a model of participation in lifelong learning is suggested which could facilitate further developments of lifelong learning.