Professionals who want to add new learning experiences have more options than ever that do not necessarily mean going back to college. In the past, learning something new often meant following the formal education process of an undergraduate degree and for some, a graduate degree. While this option is still ideal for some, there are other many not-so-typical options available to learn something new.
In a recent podcast, Jeff Goins, national best-selling author of four books including The Art of Work, discussed why online learning makes a lot of sense for many professionals, especially those who may already have a college-degree base, but need to learn more specifics in a variety of areas. As Jeff points out, “Don’t go back to school because you don’t know what to do.” Many online options are provided by experts in their learning areas and are offered at nominal fees or free. Online opportunities include large online providers like Lynda.com who offers a one-stop-shop for a variety of online courses to video games to a You Tuber’s short step-by step visual guide to excel at a specific task (like learning how to start a blog).
Today’s learning is not necessarily the traditional seminar-based, classroom setting learning, but rather a compilation of a variety of sources used to create a well-rounded learning experience. Today’s learning does not have a beginning point nor an end. We now live in an age where lifelong learning is becoming the necessary norm and not something managers only hoped their employees would want to do.
Connie Yowell from Collective Shift, a nonprofit reimaging learning, believes the goal for learning is to turn it into a lifestyle that you live and not simply learning because you have to. She talks about three components of a robust learning experience: an interested learner, peer group that shares this interest, and the learning’s connection to the real world – immediate applicability. Digital tools, like online learning, help connect these three parts in ways traditional learning experiences alone have not be able to do on a consistent basis.
With the vast availability of learning options available, learners need to truly understand their learning needs, learning goals, time and budget constraints, and how to maximize knowledge gains and sharing. They also need to determine how online learning fits into their overall personal and professional picture. Thinking of lifelong learning as a way to live, it’s really about investing a few minutes up front to get started on an ongoing learning path, knowing where to find learning opportunities, using the information learned immediately, and moving onto the next learning opportunity. Are you ready to start?