There are so many ways to learn new skills. The days of needing to pay thousands of dollars, or go to a university to advance your career are over. This is not an indictment of the university system. Collegiate education has a very important place in the workplace and in the advancement of science and research. However, it is possible nowadays to get education in just about any subject you want via free or very cheap mediums. The most commonly used are YouTube, Blogging, and Podcasts. Whatever way you learn best, there is a way for you to learn new skills.
The hardest part nowadays is sifting through all of the mundane and useless material out there and finding good content for you to learn from. Knowing where to look, how to find what you are looking for, and what is good, without spending hours and hours on useless material can be difficult. Hopefully this helps to make the process a little easier.
Podcasts (or Audio Content)–
Podcasts are basically the modern version of the radio show. Most of them are free, you just have to subscribe to them, and some of them have ads. Many people, in many industries, have their own podcasts, giving information and inspiration to people who are interested. I personally listen to about a dozen or so regularly, in the fields of business, psychology, marketing, and technology.
Listening to podcasts is easy, if you have a smartphone. If you have an apple product, there is a podcast app built in, and all you need to do is search it for the podcasts you are looking for. If you are using an android device then things are a little more complicated but still simple. You just need to find an app that supports the podcasts you want to listen to and download it from there. If you have limited data, you can always download the episodes from an area with WiFi and listen later.
I have found podcasts to be great for general information and inspiration about what to write, what to research, and what things are coming in the future of particular industries. They are not as good for teaching me new skills, but they provide a great starting point for learning what skills I need to learn.
YouTube (or Video Content) –
If you are visual learner, then YouTube can be your best friend. From things like how to do fractions, to complex biological processes, to how to make crème brûlée, YouTube has millions of videos on just about everything. This is a great platform to learn new skills, to listen to interesting people (or not so interesting) teach how to do things, to simply watching funny videos.
Unfortunately, there are so many videos out there that it can be very difficult to find ones that are actually teaching you the things that you want to learn. The solution to this is to find YouTube channels by people you like, and subscribe (much the same way you will for podcasts) to those channels. Often times these videos will have links to other videos and the creators will mention other videos and resources.
The key with YouTube is finding a network of content creators that you trust, and then learning from them and the people they reference. Sometimes you can get lucky by just typing in a search query, but other times you will have to search and search to find what you are looking for.
Blogging (or Written Content) –
If you are like me, then the easiest way for you to learn is to read things. I love finding people that create useful written content that I can read and subscribe to. One of the benefits of finding this kind of content is often bloggers are very good at giving links to other kinds of content to expand on what they are saying. I subscribe to probably a few dozen blogs. Some of them put out daily content, some weekly, some are sporadic.
One of the best ways to find a good blog on a topic that you are interested in is to just dive in and see who other bloggers link to and reference. There are blogs on just about everything online and they are a great source of information on almost any subject. There are blogs for entertainment as well, but the education piece is the most useful to me.
Again, it is important to look at who shows up consistently in the blogs you read, and then search them out and read those blogs. Many bloggers also have podcasts and YouTube channels which can add to the value of finding a good one.
Traditional Education –
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention why traditional education is still so important. Traditional education, especially at the collegiate level, is designed to take a person from knowing little to nothing on a particular subject, and teach them in discrete increments, to whatever level of expertise they desire. Very few sources of education online are truly designed in this fashion, and as such you have to be self-taught and self-motivated.
On the opposite end of this spectrum is the fact that traditional education tends to be very theoretical, and the type of education we are talking about tends to be very practical. If you are looking to learn a new skill, then listening to a few podcasts, watching a few videos, and reading about it online is probably a good way to go. However, if you are looking to gain an in depth understanding of some discipline, whether it is business, psychology, microbiology, etc., then the traditional model of education is probably preferable.
Whatever your educational needs are, there is a way for you to meet them. I know people who have taught themselves a new language completely online. I know people who have learned how to market their business completely online. The MOST successful people I know take information from wherever they can and try to apply it across multiple disciplines and multiple arenas. They constantly strive to learn more and become experts in whatever they are doing. In the modern age of content, the internet, colleges, libraries, internships, smartphones, etc., there is no excuse not to learn the things that you want to learn, so go out there and learn and make yourself better every day.
Thanks for reading, please leave any questions, concerns, disagreements, etc. in the comments below, or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please like and share so more people can read it.
- Jeremy Larsen
Business Development and Practice Manager
Coherence Associates Inc.