Continuing education, formerly associated primarily with doctors, lawyers, and other professionals, provides opportunities to not only pursue new interests and social networking, but to adapt to the rapidly changing world and job market we live in.
Lifelong learners report a better quality of life and are happier overall. They also enjoy better health and consequently, live longer. Resources and tools for learners, freely available online, provide a good foundation for self-directed education, and help keep you organized for your adventure in lifelong learning.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
MOOCs feature advanced education for free with courses offered from Yale, Harvard, and other top-notch universities. While each school’s policy varies, reading materials, notes, and lectures are usually available. Certificates may be earned for completed courses but college credit is not typically awarded. Visit portal sites, like Coursera and OpenSesame to learn about hundreds of MOOCs offerings from different universities around the world.
Industry Expert Videos
Presentations and videos like TedTalks, provide great introductions and in-depth explorations of varied topics from industry experts. Learn about everything from climate change to new theories in mental illness or learn about new trends in technology and science. Organizations offering continuing education credits for professionals also offer their courses and videos online for non-professionals. Talks on Law, a continuing education site for lawyers, features videos about landlord tenant rights, small claims court, and other topics that helps to empower consumers.
Local Classes and Workshops
Learning opportunities beyond the continuing education courses offered at your local community college are becoming more abundant in communities and neighborhoods. Community centers and the local YMCA may offer self-defense, gardening, mechanic and crafting workshops, among other offerings. It’s a great way to learn something new, enhance a skill, and to network with your peers and neighbors. Local online bulletin boards, like Craigslist are a good source to discover classes or workshops offered by locals in your community.
Lifelong learning provides tremendous benefits for learners and the society in which they live. But, even for those with a desire to learn, the most difficult part can be choosing where to begin. Mind mapping software and apps like MindMeister or Mindomo provide a great organizational tool as you curate your list of choices for self-directed learning and resources. Electronic notebooks like, GoogleKeep and Evernote, organize images, videos, and voice notes. DIY Genius, an online comprehensive database of helpful apps and resources for self-directed learners, provides a great starting point to begin your ongoing quest for knowledge.
By Brooke Chaplan