It doesn’t matter what stage of work and life we are in, we should never stop learning. It is easy to recognize the importance of this oft-given advice but in real life it can be difficult to put it into practice. Sometimes it is hard to save some time in our busy lives or to decide to spend some money on it, as postgraduate education and specialization courses usually doesn’t come cheap.
The good news is that with the emergence of new technologies, we have a lot of resources for expanding our skillset and continuing education at our own pace – and sometimes with any cost.
Depending on what you want to learn, there are a variety of websites that provide training and different educational materials – like downloadable books or articles– for anyone who wants to log in. Simple as that!
Coursera is one of these well-known platforms. Provides users with over 400 courses from top universities all over the world and about the most diverse topics. After passing the evaluations and for a small fee, Coursera will issue a certificate of completion that you can share with your network.
Lynda.com or LinkedIn Learning is an online library with a huge collection of instructional small videos covering the latest software, business, and creative skills. This method allows you to focus on a specific topic and they are all taught by recognized experts in the field.
To grow your knowledge and keep up with the new developments in your field, the best thing to do it is to read broadly and often. Your reading list should go beyond regular news and saving some time for it everyday is totally worth it. To avoid the distractions of the endless search process until you find something interesting, you can use a news aggregator like Feeder or Feedly. The content is collected from websites via users, webmasters, or RSS feeds and you can create your own reading space by saving the content you like and subscribing to your preferred sources of information.
At first, deciding what to learn can be intimidating, as there will be hundreds of topics to choose from. Start with broad industry knowledge related to your field, which can help you focus on the areas that most spark your curiosity. For example:
It can be useful to know the basics of coding. This can be a daunting task, as there is not one best programming language to learn: it will be different if you want to build an interactive website than a mobile app or video game. HTML and CSS are considered good points of entry and the key to success and progression is practice.
Signing up for a certification courses from Udacity or Treehouse is a very good idea, as these offer the opportunity to ask a tutor for help instead of having to solve your coding mistakes or questions alone.
Also, the community in GitHub –a platform designed for collaboration– is full of people who are willing to help the next generation and they’ll give you valuable advice.
Who hasn’t thought about learning a new language? There are really no secrets or shortcuts, you just have to dedicate yourself to it. Look for good resources to start on your own – like textbooks and practice exercises–; but I am still a firm believer that if you can invest some money and time, a private tutor or group classes is definitely the best way to start.
You will master a language by using it, so learning from foreign language media can help you too. For example, FluentU uses real-world videos like music videos, trailers, and TV shows and turns them into language learning exercises. It’s a dynamic way to pick up useful and daily vocabulary and to learn with context.
Keeping things fresh you will sustain your professional creativity and passion, while learning keeps you relevant in your ever-changing industry.