Lifelong Learning - Open source education

Lifelong learning is a term which defined as “the ongoing voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either professional or personal drives”.

Learning as a practice has changed over the last few decades and transitioned from something which was done in isolation with clearly defined times and places for knowledge acquisition (school) and application (the work environment). Instead learning has transitioned to a practice which is ongoing, with fewer boundaries and can be formal or informal or self-directed learning.

From a professional perspective maintaining and improving our technical knowledge is paramount for a variety of reasons. It makes us more competitive in the market place as an individual, as a business, and as an industry. It provides new ways of understanding, new means of being sustainable and new methods for ongoing improvement and provides a path in which we can remain engaged and inspired by our industry.

Much of this transition to lifelong learning has been facilitated by the ease of access to information. In the past for example academic journals were artificially restricted in access because they were only available as a hardcopy and generally only through an academic instructions library which paid subscription fees. Today however academic journals are available digitally as a soft copy at anytime and anyplace. And with the move to open source journals, this knowledge is available to a much wider audience beyond the university walls, with the only requirement being access to the internet.

A recent example of the transition to open source, is the Journal of Environmental Horticulture. This academic journal, which is peer reviewed, is the communications platform of the Horticultural Research Institute, part of the AmericanHort. (AmericanHort, the Peak Industry body for the industry in the US, was created through the consolidation in 2014 of the American Nursery & Landscape Association and OFA—The Association of Horticultural Professionals.)

The journals move from subscription base to open source means that anyone can now freely access the journal. This is a great outcome for the industry in the US and globally as much of the content is high quality technical research which relates directly to the nursery industry.

Access to the Journal of Environmental Horticulture and its back catalogue can be freely found at

For those who are looking for recognition of their ongoing professional development and lifelong industry learning, the Certified Nursery Professional (CNP) program offers this. For information on the program visit the NGIA website here.