Lifelong Learner

Have you noticed all the exciting new ways you can improve yourself and learn online?

Not just languages, which I talk a lot about on this blog, but everything. So much is popping up out there that it can be a bit overwhelming. Where to start?

You can

  • learn basic coding through Codecademy
  • improve your math skills and other subjects at Khan Academy
  • study endless courses on computer software skills, programming, photography and more on ($)
  • delve into fields like engineering, biology, and political science via MIT’s Open Courseware and keep an eye out for courses they will soon offer through their partnership with Harvard called edX.
  • learn about artificial intelligence and other advanced engineering topics through the Stanford Engineering Everywhere courses
  • and there’s more! Browse courses through iTunes on iTunes U, offering recorded lectures from universities all over the world (watch them on your phone during your lunch break)
  • search for any topic that interests you with the word “podcast” and find tons of free recordings

Wow, how do you choose? where do you start?

I divide my study interests into two categories (not counting my languages):

  • just because it’s fun/interesting
  • a means to reaching a personal/professional goal

Well, looking at “means to reach a personal goal” really narrows down the courses a lot. I’ll have to think about what skills are a priority or are a prerequisite to another course and go from there. I’ll also make more structured plans as to when and how I’ll study. (tip, use hassleme  to remind yourself to study). I’ll also track my progress and success, partly as motivation, but also to help me articulate my skills in a professional situation.

Looking at “just for fun”- well, that’s pretty much all the classes that are left over, isn’t it? Maybe I’ll just let myself follow a thread for a weekend, looking at architecture courses, for example, until I’ve worn out my enthusiasm. Other times I’ll sort of stick to a theme for a few weeks, not only watching lectures, but also finding news articles, academic papers, YouTube videos and more to dive into a fun topic.  Take Art History for example; there are lots of fun video lectures on iTunes U, some interesting art and design talks on, and lots of great websites that walk you through art criticism.  That was fun! Now I bring a new appreciation for art and aesthetics with me when I venture to a museum.

I’ve also noticed lately that there are more and more self-help courses available for personal development. Two examples I’d like to share:

  • has  “projects” where you get daily e-mails prompting you to read, think, and do in line with the topic of the month. Past projects have included Make your Own Meals, The 30 day Sleep Better Challenge, and Get Financially Fit.
  • Learnvest, a website devoted to improving women’s financial know how has several boot camps that prompt  you with daily e-mails to improve your money know-how and  financial habits.

I’d love to hear about it if anyone uses these resources, or would like to share a cool site you’ve come across. In the meantime, here’s some inspiration: