You, the Lifelong Learner

I remember thinking to myself in high school “I can’t wait until it’s over.” I was so eager to finish school. And while there’s no one but me to account for this apathetic attitude, in looking back, I am not even sure why I felt this way. School wasn’t boring, I just wasn’t engaged. In college, admittedly, it took a few semesters (okay, years) for me to get into focus, and even completing my undergraduate work was a chore. I could not wait to start the world of work, become independent, and generate my own steady income.

It wasn’t until enrolling in graduate school that learning had purpose for me. The master’s program was related to what I did in my profession as an educator. What I learned in school could be applied to my daily experience. I looked forward to the coursework, and to learning something new.

I haven’t stopped learning since. I have become a sponge, soaking up whatever I can, where ever I can, in whichever area is currently of interest to me. Whether it’s emerging technologies, research in education, or how to install a sliding door, the opportunities for learning are limitless and inviting.

These days, there are many places to seek out new learning opportunities. One of my favorites is Udemy, an online learning platform where the courses are reasonably priced, self-paced, and available anytime, anywhere, forever. I’ve taken classes in 3D printing, electronics, programming, graphic design, web development and more. Personally, I wait for the limited time offers and often find courses for $10.

Coursera is a collaboration between a number of universities, including Stanford, John Hopkins and the University of Michigan, offering a wide range of courses. Unlike Udemy, these courses generally have a defined start and end date, and a community of learners that participate simultaneously.

Udacity provides coursework mostly in the technical fields, in a format similar to Coursera. They offer nanodegree programs in areas such as robotics and virtual reality.

Bloomboard is a learning platform designed specifically for educators. Through a partnership with Digital Promise, they offer microcredentials in topics ranging from Computational Thinking to Instructional Leadership to Using Technology to Support the 4Cs.

If you are looking to enhance your creative skill set, check out CreativeLive.

And let’s not forget Youtube. While seen by many parents as a time suck and rabbit hole for their children’s minds, there are thousands upon thousands of videos to learn just about anything. Photography is a recent hobby of mine, and youtube has become my go-to source for the latest information on the various types of DSLR lenses, how to compose a good photo, and working with post-processing software such as Lightroom.

For further reading, take a look at this article and this article about using Youtube in education.

As learners, we are living in such a robust moment in history. Never before has there been so much information and so many tools for learning it. And it’s only getting better. As this recent article from EdSurge points out, this changing landscape of anytime, anywhere learning has many in higher education thinking of new strategies for how to stay relevant. And what about K-12?

Do you have a favorite learning space, online or otherwise? Please share below.

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