Continuing Your Education Beyond The Classroom in 2021
Have you ever stopped to think about all the things you have learned throughout your life? There’s probably a pretty long list that comes to mind. Now, think about all the things you haven’t learned or don’t even know about yet – that list is infinite because there is ALWAYS something new to learn or become more knowledgeable in. Especially in 2021, continuing your education is more important than ever. That’s what I want to talk about today but I think I should start off by defining what your “education” might look like.
Education Outside the Classroom
You may have heard of the idea to not let formal education get in the way of your learning. I realize that might alarm some of you, or make you think that we aren’t for education – that couldn’t be further from the truth (shoutout to all of our K-12 customers out there). There’s a quote by Mark Twain that goes something like this:
Here is one way to define education: the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. I’d say that’s the traditional way we think about education.
However, I like the secondary definition of education a little bit better: an enlightening experience.
Just imagine the amount of learning opportunities that could open up if you choose to think about education as an enlightening experience rather than being in a classroom. Our world is changing by second and most industries look a lot different now than they did even a year ago. Our classrooms have changed as well with remote learning becoming a must last year. With change comes growth, and with growth comes new things to learn. That cycle will never stop.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that lifelong learning is a must, especially in 2021. Now before you go enroll in school again, let’s look at some alternative ways to continue your education beyond the classroom.
You may have heard of it before…this world-wide craze that took over in the early 90’s. Ring any bells? If not, just Google it and you can learn all about it. HAH – POINT PROVEN. There is a seemingly endless supply of information on the internet, so much of which is FREE. And who doesn’tlove free stuff? Sure, some of it isn’t free. But that’s *usually* pretty good stuff. Take educational websites like Udemy for example. They offer over 150,000 courses ranging from a variety of topics including web development, music and accounting. Our team here at TCS utilizes Udemy for a variety of technical, creative and business-driven learning because in our industry especially, things always change.
There are several platforms out there like Udemy that come with both free and paid courses. They are also served in various learning styles like videos, readings, and interactive Q&A sessions. So the possibilities really are limitless. We are seeing more and more entrepreneurs these days who didn’t attend a day of college, but are self taught through “YouTube University”. Just be cautious to not get stuck in the black hole of random YouTube videos or else you will wind up watching this video of two guinea pigs sharing a blade of grass. Don’t even get me started on the amount of equally useful and useless things I’ve learned on TikTok.
There’s a good chance your inbox and news feed gets flooded with promotional content from businesses – Try this! Order that! Be sure to like and subscribe! I know it can be overwhelming. But every once in a while, there is some good info and content hidden in there. I can’t tell you the number of webinars I have stumbled across while sifting through “junk” mail – and like we all love, most of them are free! It’s a classic marketing technique, get us hooked with the free stuff then make us pay for the rest. But honestly, I’m okay being teased with some good free webinars every once in a while.
I will say – webinars have the potential be boring and un-engaging. But they can also be fun, interactive and informative! The outcome is determined partially by the presenter, but also your ability to focus on what they are saying and not multi-tasking the whole time. You get out what you put in so it’s mostly up to you to make them valuable and worth your time. My favorite way to find webinars (outside of those being sent to me directly) is to search on LinkedIn. You can literally just search for ‘webinars’ and a list of events will populate ranging across all sorts of different topics. If you learn enough, you just might consider hosting one of your own!
Now, I know this seems a bit old-fashioned. In a traditional networking sense, the days of handshakes and large groups of people gathering in one place are gone for now. But, just like the rest of the world, networking has changed! I recently connected with a person who lives in Portland, Oregon. I live in Kansas. For my fellow geographically challenged friends, those two states are not close. And if it weren’t for this new age of digital networking (and my choice to actively participate in it) we likely would have never met!
Keep in mind I said ‘actively’ participate. It’s all fine and well if you want to create accounts on networking platforms, but if you are not active then you may as well be the shy person standing alone in the corner of the networking event who doesn’t make a single connection and eats way too many snacks. I have absolutely nothing against snacks, but I do have something against people not networking at a networking event. Just like the webinars, with networking you get out what you put in. And if you put in the effort, you could have a new friend in Oregon, too.
The fun part about networking is the more people you know, the more brains you know. And the more brains you know, the more information you have available to you through real-life experiences. You can learn SO much from others. Sometimes you learn what to do and other times you learn what not to do. Either way, it’s valuable info that pushes your growth forward which, in turn, helps you survive (and maybe even thrive) in this ever-changing world.
There aren’t many excuses anymore when it comes to learning. You don’t have to walk uphill both ways, you don’t have to go through unnecessary struggles and challenges, and you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to be a lifelong learner. The information is out there, you just have to have the passion, persistence and drive to learn it.
All the best,