Updated: May 11, 2020
Furthering your education doesn't have to mean enrolling in a typical class environment at high dollar anymore. With easy access to the world wide web you now have endless resources available at your fingertips. Whether you’re wanting to excel in a specific field, learn a language, or grow your general knowledge to wow during those savvy dinner conversations, there are accessible platforms available on both your computer and/or smartphone. Let’s keep things simple by learning just the right tools to ace becoming your own professor. Just like anything, learning something new takes time and dedication. Learning to manage your time effectively and stay consistent will be key to acing whatever it is you may be trying to learn. Having the reigns in your hand makes it’s easy to push off these self-teaching sessions to a future time when you're ‘not so tired’, or a friend hasn’t called you up for drinks. A great tool to ensure the consistent commitment is to schedule personal time throughout your week where you will sit down, turn off tempting vices, and focus just like you were attending an in-person, group class. If you know every Tuesday and Thursday, from 6-8 pm, you’ll be in the library with your laptop studying ancient civilizations, it will make sticking with it a whole lot easier. Getting into a routine will ensure that other obligations don’t end up overriding the initiative you’ve taken on your education. Another way to help you stay on task is to build yourself a syllabus. Each week you have the dedicated topic that you’re set to dive into. This prevents aimless searching, only picking up snippets of information from various topics. When jumping from place to place your mind is considerably less likely to grasp the information, let alone cache into your deep memory. Even just setting an intention the day of will ensure you’re following along a carved out path. Having an end goal in mind, such as being able to eloquently share historical government demises, will allow you to accomplish your original purpose. Learning the right platforms to jump straight into is truly an important tool. With so many free platforms you have no excuse to not work on bettering yourself! 1. Youtube Youtube is a great place to go if you’re more of a visual/audio-centric learner. There are endless channels dedicated to spreading information in unique and intriguing ways. Just like those lengthy documentaries you can watch on the History Channel, short and long clips have been uploaded to bring you the same information. Many professionals take to Youtube to share their information while still making money through ads and click-throughs. This is beneficial to you as you're avoiding the cost that you’d otherwise be responsible for when signing up for one of their classes. This is also a great platform to ask creators questions directly via the comments. You may even find that someone else has asked the question you had and can learn the answer immediately. 2. Saylor Saylor is a wonderful platform that offers full-length courses at no charge what so ever. These courses are expertly structured, professional, and are college-level that’s been designed for you to take at your own speed. They offer certifications for once you complete a course that can be shared with anyone, perfect for adding to resumes or including in professional portfolios. College credits are also available after a final examination to schools they’ve partnered with, and potentially many, many more. With a plethora of available courses, you’re sure to find something to get you excited to learn. 3. BigThink If you’re looking to brush up on general world happenings then this is a great website to stay up to date with. Their website provides short-form educational listings that target topics ranging from current events, recaps, history, and dynamic tools for self-growth. You can scroll through their ‘Discover’ tab to learn about interesting and unique subjects you may otherwise never have known about! Work your way throughout their page by checking out content under ‘Video’, ‘Podcasts’, or ‘Newsletters’ tabs. Their dynamic platform has a strong visual presence that makes it easy for you to stay interested. 4. Language Learning & Smartphones With access to a smartphone, you’re able to bring a language learning class directly to you. The number one overall app available to both Apple and Android users is Duolingo (also available online). Duolingo makes it not only easy to learn but fun! With a multitude of different exercises to interact with, the app will tailor these exercises based on your unique learning styles. They provide instant feedback on tests so that you can stay up to date on your progress.
Another top-rated language learning app is Memrise. Memrise was built by people who are fluent in the spoken languages - making sure to bring you more than just textbook language skills but ones that are spoken in everyday conversation. This app includes video clips of natives speaking in conversations so that you can pick up how the words are spoken and get a sense of daily interactions in the location of origin. 5. Alison Alison has over 1000 courses that are all available for free! On completion, you can choose to purchase a certificate that is sent to you in the mail and can be included in any professional portfolio. After signing up for your account you can use their tools to help find the right courses for you. You’re able to sort through by their ‘Study Areas’ (Academic, Personal Development, and Workplace), or by course categories such as ‘Science’, ‘Math’, ‘Lifestyle’, or ‘Skilled Trade’. These programs are available for you to take at your own pace - so no need to worry about interference with your daily schedules. 6. Skillshare Skillshare is a great platform that is available to you on your computer or smartphone. They connect teachers and professionals directly to people like you looking to learn. There are all kinds of different topics that you can choose from their library of over 22,000 classes. Skillshare is built of informational videos that draw you in by providing a personable experience. You can easily scan through different segments of videos to go over the parts you didn't quite understand or maybe even skip past the parts you already know! Categories on Skillshare include ‘Design’, ‘Illustration’, ‘Business’, ‘Technology’, ‘Photo & Film’, ‘Entrepreneurship’, and ‘Writing’. If you are someone who struggles with ‘sticking with it’ then creating a group with your friends is a fun way to incorporate outside accountability. Make learning fun by setting up once a month meetups where you guys can only speak a specific language to solidify your learnings. Turn it into a game by creating a trivia night where you incorporate friendly competition. Ignite your creative fire by dedicating a platform of your choice to reshare the information you’re learning. Surprisingly enough you can find classes, events, or showings on interesting topics close to where you live. Colleges often offer shorter-term courses at low prices that you can sign up for to learn a skill in just a few sittings. The online world contains endless discussion boards simplifying finding other like-minded individuals to converse on what you’ve been obsessing over. The list goes on and on in ways you can benefit from spending time in the online world. Life is a learning experience and self-growth is something to value spending time on.