Learning is extremely difficult. The cost of tertiery education continues to increase and our day jobs get more demanding - but this shouldn't stop us from constantly building our knowledge and skills.
It is now easier than ever to teach yourself using online tools and services ... and to do it every day! I would like to share my top ten reasons for wiring into the net and testing your limits.
10: It's easy to find out what you want to learn. (Google, Pinterest, Wikipedia)
My first step is always to 'Google it'. Whatever it is you want to know, the likelihood is that someone on the internet has asked the same question. A Google search takes about 0.38 seconds - so it's easy to fit into your lunch-break or commute.
9: There is a lot of content available.
You will be amazed at how much information you can find on the internet - for free! Although there are many formal online studying options at sites such as Lynda.com, CourseYouCan & Open Universities - there are plenty of free resources. YouTube (My favourite japanese channel), eHow and StackExchange are great resources, however, if you are really lucky you will stumble accross a blogger with their own site dedicated to the topic you want to learn! Here is one about Magic & everyone should read Survival Mom!
8: Finding resources online is a valuable skill in it's own right.
No matter how much knowledge you gain, it is inevitable that something will come along in the course of your work and confound you. Having a reportoire of online resources available at short notice will make these situations far less confronting.
7: It's not just about technology anymore.
If you learn using computers, that doesn't mean that you are limited to computer based topics. The internet is now a better learning companion then ever. If you're practicing Pilates for instance, you can bring your smart phone to the park and all of your learning resources with it!
6: Share your progress with others.
Getting feedback is critical to advancing your skills further. The internet gives us a multitude of ways to share our work - put pictures on Facebook for your friends, post your music to Sound Cloud or sell something on Etsy. Your audience is waiting!
5: You can engage with a worldwide community.
Interacting with the community is the key to advancing your skills - and this can be done very easily online. If you are a programmer then fork an open source project on GitHub - you will gain insight into other people's code and any contributions you make will be recognised professionally.
4: Learning keeps your brain healthy.
You probably already know that the brain, just like any muscle, needs exercise. But you might not fully grasp how much your brain is capable of - ever heard the excuse "my brain is too full"? This is a highly misguided statement, no matter what you throw at it your brain will rise to the challenge. Remember: the more overwhelmed you feel, the more progress you are making!
3: You can learn passively by listening to podcasts or watch videos at anytime.
There are many gaps in our day that we can harnass to absorb information. Do you spend a lot of time in the car or go to the gym? Have a look for some podcasts to put on while driving or working out. With no extra time commitment you will be amazed at how quickly you can increase your knowledge.
2: Your learning will be recognised by employers.
I recently read this article: How Google Employee Learned to Code ... and I was amazed at how I could relate to his journey and process of learning. (Basically he learned how to code from scratch, just through using Google searches!) The skills you learn online are real and valuable. In the eyes of an employer, the fact that you pro-actively worked towards increasing your knowledge shows resourcefulness and enthusiasm.
1: It's cheap.
The likelihood is that you can gain the same skills by learning online that you would through tertiary education on the same topic. When you choose online, the savings are immmense...
- University Diploma in IT: $20,000
- Lynda.com for 1 year: $250
But even more importantly - taking a dip into a topic online for free before taking up tertiary education could save a lot of time and money -just in case you change your mind!
BONUS: Your job may include a lot of computer work
If you work in the city - your job will probably involve 80% of your time being at the computer ... for better or for worse. So it only makes sense that you educate yourself using the tools of your workplace.
Thanks for reading my post! What's your favourite site/app that you use to learn? Let me know - I'm ALWAYS on the lookout!