We all need upgrading from time to time
Learning a new trade, continuing education units (CEUs), certifications, refining skills, and empirical knowledge are all required if we want to remain “current” in the workforce and in life. Often upgrading our qualifications is required either by employers, licensing organizations, or technology organizations.
Knowledge and Skill Knowledge
and skills go hand in hand. Knowledge is about facts which enhances our ability to be discerning. As knowledge expands, opinions become tested. In the process, it is important that knowledge comes from a variety of unbiased worldly sources to avoid blind spots in our thinking.
A skill is the ability to do something. At any stage in life we need facility in technical skills (being tech savvy), leadership skills (to guide any community/society), skills associated with a job or profession (medicine) or even knowing foreign languages in our global society.
Knowledge and skill are mutual goals; if you have a skill in a foreign language, but lack knowledge, you have nothing to say.
Awareness – The Key to Becoming an Effective Learner, Know Where to Go
Awareness means knowing what is out there and available. Just knowing of the alternatives is the beginning to becoming an effective learner. There are two categories—bricks and mortar facilities and on-line programs.
An Example of Online
One of the larger organizations that provide online learning is Coursera. The company was founded in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. They wanted to share their knowledge and skills with the world. They created an online, web-based educational platform and enlisted colleges for material. Their website reads, “Professors put their courses online for anyone to take—and taught more learners in a few months than they could have in an entire lifetime in the classroom.”
They have done well. 35 million students. 150 University Partners. 2,700 Courses.
The content includes stand-alone courses for specific areas; specializations, which are a series of stand-alone courses connected together to master a skill. They also offer degrees, for a higher level of mastery.
I have done both: Bricks/Mortar and Online
BRICKS: I received my Master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and American University, and a BS from Marietta College. For Hopkins, I had to travel between Washington, where we lived, to Baltimore twice a week for two years. For American, I had to travel into Washington, DC, every day for two and a half years. At Marietta I paid room and board for four years.
Bricks, Hopkins, American, Marietta: I sat in classrooms for eight and a half years and participated in many excellent group discussions. We reviewed homework which consisted of solving problems and reviewing/presenting projects. All were very rewarding experiences, but it took a lot of time and money.
Key Factor - Access to Help: Being on campus means access to tutorials by graduate assistants, and professors have office hours.
ONLINE: Through Michigan University, I received a certificate in Block Chain and Programming (Python). I took this technical specialization program from my home office this past winter. The lecture was delivered directly to my computer. I did not need to take notes, because there were transcripts and course slides provided automatically. I could ask questions through the course’s social media site. I could repeat material I did not understand the first time, speed up the lecture if it covered material I already understood; no being lulled to sleep in class. There were hyperlinks to additional course material for research.
Key Factor - Access to Help:
Having 80,000 students enrolled all over the world changes the help scenario. Graduate assistants, normally two to three per professor in a traditional college, now have hundreds of online assistants that live all over the world. Interaction was done on a social media website constructed only for students enrolled in the course. When I needed help, I discovered the same assistant came to my rescue each time, but I have no idea in what part of the world she resides . No restrictions to time of day for working or helping.
Put Both Together
Much of learning is a solo exercise, so I found the online method more effective for some material. Also, on-line students contributed ideas, projects, and solutions from an enormous pool of experience, on a worldwide basis.
Local social interaction, brain-storming, and networking needs a classroom. With Face Time, even that is morphing.
So the right answer is a mix, and, with this mix, both methods get better. Each brings a different set of perspectives. I had a discussion regarding a hydroponics technology project I am working on with a student from Africa. This conversation could also have taken place in a physical classroom given the mix and variety of students on today’s college campus. But in this case, the difference is that this student was sitting at a desk also, at his home in Africa.
Virtual classrooms made up of one here and one in Africa, each sitting at his own desk. All participants making their way in the world today…
Anyone, anywhere, can transform their life learning opportunity
It is what you know, not where you learned it. So pick the best option. Look at MOOCs. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online courses available to anyone. MOOCs contain affordable and flexible content to increase knowledge and improve skills using a quality educational experience. I encourage you to take a look at moocs.org.
Let’s change the definition of education from:
“The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. (Webster)
The process of learning using asystematic (anytime) instruction, any place, anytime, …supported by schools, universities, and online institutions.
Get prepared to use your skills to positively enhance or change life in a direction you dictate.