I know – we’re all busy and have lots of things to do, running from meeting to meeting and trying to catch up on our emails in between. But when can we learn and develop? With the world changing at an ever faster speed, we need to keep up with technology and constantly develop our skills.
The pace seems a bit frightening: I read a study a recently, which predicted that 70% of what Australian students learn now at university will be outdated and irrelevant in 10-15 years. For many people in established careers what we learnt years ago often isn’t relevant any more – and there are new areas popping up, like Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence etc., where there aren’t even courses you can take.
So how can we all learn when our days are packed already? Well, there are a few websites, apps, tricks and behaviours that can help.
Learning-on-the-go on the Internet
The Internet offers a multitude of learning opportunities: one of my personal favourites is www.ted.com, a site that offers videos on all imaginable topics, presented by the most brilliant minds on this planet in titbits of eight to 20 minutes, and all in an immensely entertaining way. TED will show you that learning is immense fun and will make you addicted to learning! And seriously: you can always watch a video in between and learn. TED also has a great app to learn on the go. Try it out with this three minute TED talk.
Another tip: try out the so-called MOOCs, the Massive Open Online Courses such as Coursera, Coursera offers a huge catalogue of courses from the best universities in the world – for free! You sign up for a course, and participate online often with hundreds of thousands of co-students over four to six weeks, whenever you have (and take) the time. Time investment is around two to four hours per week. Some of the most enjoyable courses I took there were a brilliant course on “Design Thinking”, “Museum Teaching Strategies” by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and “The Dirty Little Secrets of Archaeology”. There are lots of other MOOCs such as the Khan Academy, EdX, Udacity, etc. They all have apps to keep you organized.
For really easy learning I recommend mobile news aggregators that you can fine-tune to your specific interests: start with Flipboard, which comes pre-installed on most mobile devices and which even allows you to publish your own e-magazine. I personally like News360, which I’ve configured to keep me updated on my specific interests like Future Trends. You can flip through easily, and if you like or dis-like an article, the tool will learn and show you more or less on that topic. It’s also very easy to share articles to Twitter, Facebook and via email or save them to read later on Evernote (where you can file, tag and find all your articles, bookmarks and notes online) or in Pocket.
Learning through networks – and mentoring
Personally, I learn a lot through my networks, the people – and topics – I follow on Twitter, on LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, etc.
“Take the time to clean up and re-focus your timeline, whom you follow and whom not. Especially on LinkedIn, follow the experts and influencers in your specific area and read their articles and updates.”
And the more you invest in your network by sharing articles and insights, by commenting and joining discussions, the more you will get back.
Also: get a mentor and become a mentor! There’s so much you can share, teach and learn in a good mentoring relationship. Now you don’t have time for that? Really? Well, honestly, I think that’s an excuse. If you first get the right apps and configure your platforms properly, you’ll easily find time to learn on the go and develop small learning routines. Not only is constant learning and development part of every job, if you take it seriously, but I can also promise you that you will very much enjoy learning!
Geek tip: connect your platforms and automate processes with IFTTT. For example, you can connect Twitter with Evernote, LinkedIn and Facebook, so whenever you tweet something (an article out of News360, for example) this will automatically re-post on Facebook and LinkedIn, and save it in Evernote.
And a final tip: get lost on Wikipedia from time to time!