Age of OpportunityLaurence Steinberg, professor of psychology at Temple University and author of Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence, recently wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times that looks at the delayed onset of “adulthood.”

According to a large-scale national study conducted since the late 1970s, it has taken longer for each successive generation to finish school, establish financial independence, marry and have children. Today’s 25-year-olds, compared with their parents’ generation at the same age, are twice as likely to still be students, only half as likely to be married and 50 percent more likely to be receiving financial assistance from their parents.

Apparently, we don’t know if the end of adolescence is determined by nature, nurture, or some combination. “Many studies find a marked decline in novelty-seeking as we move through our 20s,” Steinberg notes, “which may be a cause of this neurochemical shift, not just a consequence.”

But it’s a passage later in the piece that really piqued my interest.

[T]hose who can prolong adolescence actually have an advantage [because the brain has more “plasticity”], as long as their environment gives them continued stimulation and increasing challenges.

What do I mean by stimulation and challenges? The most obvious example is higher education, which has been shown to stimulate brain development in ways that simply getting older does not. College attendance pays neural as well as economic dividends.

While higher ed may be the obvious example, those of us working—and learning—in the lifelong learning market know there are other options, arguably better suited to achieving real learning and adapting to the speed of changing knowledge than a college degree: the formal and informal learning offered by trade and professional associations, training companies, certificate programs, and more.

Steinberg’s case for delayed adulthood then is also a case for more learning. Learning that keeps us young.

It seems clear to me that the demand for lifelong learning opportunities will only increase, and higher ed, even if obvious, isn’t the only option. That’s where you and your organization come in.

As for Steinberg’s comments on marriage, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.


In case you have not already tuned into it, Jane Hart’s annual collection of top 100 learning tools was recently posted at This is the 8th year that Jane has published the list, which she assembles based on input from more than 1,000 learning professionals.

I’ve always found the diversity of the tools in this list to be very interesting. Since its inception, the Top 100 has pointed to the massive change taking place in how we go about learning and how we think about learning.  Social and informal rule the tool list. What I characterized as Learning 2.0 years ago is simply learning now. [click to continue…]

Leading Learning Webinars Resume

September 24, 2014

This Thursday our 2014 Leading Learning complimentary Webinar sessions resume after the summer hiatus. We always allow time for questions and comments from participants, and we welcome your input during the Webinars. All registrants for a Webinar receive access to a recording—so even if you can’t attend live, you can still access the content, or […]

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Facilitating Fluency, Empowering Expertise

September 15, 2014

I think most education businesses could do a lot worse than to have these two aims at the foundation of their vision and mission. Fluency suggests a high level of competence. Indeed, it is competence in action. When we are “fluent,” we feel deeply familiar with the knowledge and skills related to our chosen field […]

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The Role of the LMS in Motivating and Retaining Online Learners

September 10, 2014

Jeff recently highlighted a great free resource for motivating and retaining learners online: Adding Some TEC-VARIETY, by Curt Bonk and Elaine Khoo. If you avail yourself of the e-book, you’ll see the authors mention the key role learning management systems can play in keeping your learners engaged in online education.

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Motivating and Retaining Online Learners Online – Free Resource Shows How

September 9, 2014

Are you looking for more effective approaches to engaging and retaining online learners? Then this may be just the resource you have been looking for. Better yet, you can get it for free (read on).

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How much does it cost to create e-learning?

September 2, 2014

As you can imagine, this is a question we get quite often in our line of work. And like so many questions that consultants receive, the most accurate answer is usually the frustrating old stand-by “It depends.” Still, there is a long enough history of e-learning development at this point that we have a pretty […]

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Education Mixed Sandwich?

August 27, 2014

I spent several weeks in Spain this summer, and, early on in my travels, I found myself at a café, trying to decide what to eat. I saw sándwich mixto on the menu board. I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I know sándwich mixto translates to mixed sandwich. But what’s a mixed sandwich? And what […]

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How to Curate Content and Knowledge Like a Pro: a Free 4-Part Mini-Course

August 25, 2014

Do you want to be seen as the leader of knowledge and learning in your field or industry? Do you want access to a constant stream of high quality ideas and content that help you connect with members and customers, build your audience, and generate new product ideas? If you want any or all of […]

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Virtual Events on the Rise Among Associations? You Tell Us.

August 20, 2014

Between our inaugural Association Virtual Conferences 2011 report, and our next version of the report, Association Virtual Events 2012, we saw the number of associations offering a virtual event more than triple. Of the respondents to the online survey that served as the basis for Association Virtual Conferences 2011, 11.7 percent indicated their organizations had […]

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