“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo
In her book, Mindset, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck identifies one of the traits shared by the people whom society calls great: a growth mindset.
People who approach the world with a growth mindset believe that “their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”1
With a growth mindset, when we come across an obstacle that we don’t know how to overcome, we figure out who we need to be in order to surmount it. Rather than viewing it as a measure of our intelligence or talent, we recognize it as an opportunity for development.
Instead of saying “I can’t,” we say, “How can I?” And then we learn what we need to learn, and try again.
You Can Learn Anything
We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. Not only are books easier to acquire and more portable than ever before, but with an internet-connected device, and a willingness to grow, we can now learn from the best instructors in the world on practically any subject.
Whether offered by a major institution like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, or Berklee, a team of experienced professionals using a newly developed platform, or a single expert offering self-curated content, high-quality material is now accessible to all.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for the traditional school system. Major universities continue to be innovation incubators and the starting point for lasting relationships and connections that drive society forward. However, learning is no longer confined to the ivory tower, and education shouldn’t stop when you leave school.
As Albert Einstein famously expressed, in one of my favorite quotes, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” By mixing a growth mindset with the tools available through the web, we can now acquire more wisdom, and do more with it, than ever before.
Experimenting With Online Education
Over the past five years, I’ve invested thousands of hours and more than $15,000 to complete over 100 different courses online. They’ve ranged in price from free (more than half of them!) to several thousand, and in duration from just one hour, up to 10-15 hours a week for 15 weeks, or about the same amount of time as a typical semester-long college course.
The material has varied as well. Some of the courses were for professional or personal growth, others have been for fun. Advanced learning strategies, programming, music theory and practice, philosophy, design, psychology, astronomy, mindfulness, business administration, optimal living, project management, religion, quantum physics – I have yet to find a subject I wanted to explore that wasn’t available.
Create Your Own Curriculum
What do you want to learn or explore?
Do you want to write a book, or create a business? Are you curious about what you’re looking at when staring up into the night sky? Perhaps you want to learn about Greek philosophers and how their ideas apply to the present day, or about the archeological history, current social customs, and language of the country you’re about to visit.
The platforms below offer a wide range of free or low-cost classes. In addition, many independent operators and small businesses are producing extremely high-quality content, so be sure to do a Google search on the subject you’re interested in.
Popular Online Learning Platforms
- edX. Founded as a joint venture between Harvard and MIT, edX now features courses from Berkeley, Princeton, Georgetown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Michigan, and Peking University, among many more. Courses are typically offered at specific times throughout the year in order to encourage group discussions and professor engagement.
- Stanford Online. As a leader in tech innovation in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford has their own independent platform, with a similar quality and delivery to edX.
- Coursera. With almost 2,000 courses from 140 partners across 28 countries, Coursera is one of the most well-established and high-quality providers of online education. Courses are typically presented week by week and require various levels of assignments and participation.
- Udemy. Udemy offers a diverse group of self-paced creative and skills based courses often taught by a single instructor. Production value and quality of content vary, so be sure to check the reviews before buying.
- Future Learn. Free courses from top universities and specialist organizations, presented in a week by week format, including assessments and group discussions.
- Creative Live. An emerging leader in the space, Creative Live offers professionally curated content from established experts in their respective fields. Many courses are free during their initial run and then available later for a fee.
- Kahn Academy. Start by a single man helping a relative with math homework, Khan Academy is in the process of transforming education both inside and outside the traditional school system. Courses are self-paced and feature short digestible videos.
- The Great Courses. Established more than 25 years ago, The Great Courses aimed to find the top 1% of college professors in the world, selected entirely for their ability to teach, and create courses for a self-paced DVD format. Much of their library is now available online.
What Are You Waiting For?
Pick a course, and get started.
Invite a friend to join you.
If a course is calling to you and it requires some sort of investment, consider it an investment in your joy or development. Personally, I’ve found that the more I pay for a course, the more engaged I am, and the higher my quality of learning. But, I’ve had tremendous experiences with free courses as well.
If you’d like support with personal course recommendations or ideas, connect with me on Twitter or Instagram (@mbalchan), or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the future, I’m also considering sharing my online course schedule and inviting others to participate. If that’s something that would interest you, please fill out this form.
- http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/ [↩]