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?