Lifelong Learning

Crocus shoots from this January

Lifelong Learning has become a given for many of us in our post-millennial culture, in order to keep up with the knowledge economy and to promote intellectual and emotional health. This can mean going back to school to finish a degree, to pursue an additional level of education, or to take a brand new direction altogether. But, traditional routes to further education, like university and college programs, are becoming increasingly financially inaccessible, leaving many folks behind. Even famed tuition-free college, Cooper Union, may begin charging their students.

While the loss of widely accessible education is deeply troubling for our culture, there are new educational resources that are attempting to fill this gap, particularly online. Coursera is one of the more promising start ups in this area, offering free courses from well-regarded universities around the world. I’m also impressed by this list, 12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free, for the autodidacts among us.

I suspect that credits from institutions like Coursera will begin to carry more weight on resumés, but I also worry that they’ll become part of the demarcation between elites who can afford traditional routes to higher education and the rest of society. We shall see.

But what about those of us who want to add to our skills without committing to a two or four year program? Free resources like Coursera or reasonably-priced versions like Udemy are great for online learning, but there’s also in-person options like Trade Schools popping up here and there. (At Vancouver’s Trade School this month, they’re offering classes on Career Planning, Writer’s Block, and Performance Poetry.)

As for me, I’ve signed up for Codecademy, where I can top up my web skills for free. I’ve wanted to do that for a while, but haven’t wanted to commit to a course. Now, I can do it at my own pace, in my spare time.

What are your tips for lifelong learning?

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5 thoughts on “Lifelong Learning

  1. Wow – there is a lot that could be said on that topic. One thing I like about my job is that it keeps me actively learning new things – even the painful things (i.e. industry certifications) are fulfilling in that respect. I think I would be go out of my mind if there weren’t new things to be learned

  2. Interesting topic Teresa, I feel like learning new things feels more challenging as I get older and I have to mentally give myself a push to get going but I like to to take cooking classes. I used to take a weekly French grammar class but got out of the routine and honestly don’t miss it at all 😉
    Cupcake bootcamp..here I come!

  3. Teresa, I will be interested in knowing how you like online education. For most of my adult life, I have taken courses at the local college/community college/the like. Although I have tried courses through the New School (NYC) and the New York Times on Blogging, I’ve not been successful at on-line classwork. I just needed the classroom interaction and I wasn’t technically proficient enough to do the blogging on-line course by myself despite the instructor’s attempts to help. I will be interested in your thoughts when you are taking course work. For many people, on-line education is the answer to their needs and dreams but it ain’t cheap. It’s expensive also.

  4. I think that if we open ourselves up to new experiences, we will always learn something new. Informal learning (even watching cooking or reno shows!) can teach us new skills.

  5. I have been an avid reader all my life and even with today’s technology I still prefer to open up a book to learn – whether it is a cookbook or like lately, a knitting or crochet book. I do admit though that when I have had difficulty learning a new stitch that I check out YouTube – it’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube if you search. 🙂 I will also be interested to hear how you like taking a course online.

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