Twenty years ago, if someone had asked me where I looked for a good education my answer would have been, “In school, reading a lot of books and periodicals, and talking to industry professionals.” Of course, these are still some of the best places. However, today there are so many new options when it comes to pursuing an education. Technology makes it very easy to learn today with a variety of resources, tools, and materials that we just didn’t have during the early days of my career.
In order to advance and grow as a person and in your profession, you need to have a “learn for life” attitude. I wake up every day curious for information and hungry to learn. Of course, there is only so much time in a day. I have to make sure that I maximize my learning by finding the best resources to uncover valuable knowledge.
Here are five of my favorite new learning places beyond the familiar classroom, books, and networking opportunities.
If you haven’t heard of or signed up for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) then you’re missing out. MOOCs can be free and the subject matter may range from big data and developing data products to social psychology and music theory. Of course, if you’re looking for an intimate setting with a small group, then this isn’t exactly the place for you. A MOOC might have a few hundred to 60,000 people in a course. But, it’s an online and collaborative learning opportunity where you have access to professors and course materials that you normally would not be able to find on your own.
2. Google+ Communities
There are many reasons why you would want to learn more about Google+, some for the obvious search reasons. But, it’s the Google+ communities that have my attention. They allow you to meet and engage with people who have similar interests. I’ve been relying on several Marketing and PR communities where the members share relevant topics, articles and studies. Being in these communities is a great way to share information and learn new perspectives. At the same time, you’re able to connect and network with professionals from all around the world.
What would we do without our favorite apps? There is an app for everything. Some of my favorites are Circa, Spreeder and Evernote. These are only a few of many that can help me to find information quickly and to absorb more knowledge. Specifically, my Spreeder Web app is one of the greatest resources. With the need to know many different business topics and industries, and also having to be briefed on national and international news stories, Spreeder helps you to speed read through material and increase your reading comprehension. This is one of many powerful apps that I rely on to retain more information during my busy day.
4. Tweet Chats
Here’s where tweeting, learning, and networking go hand-in-hand. A tweet chat is a tremendous opportunity to join in a community discussion on a topic of your choice. Many times, experts participate in these discussions to maximize learning potential. For my industry, I’ve co-founded a Twitter chat called #PRStudChat for PR students, professionals, and educators. We meet each month to learn about various topics that affect the way businesses communicate. Professionals and students alike are sharing information and experiences and everyone is learning at a faster pace (and in 140 characters).
You can find a meetup on any subject, in any city, during any time of the day. Meetup.com is the place to start. You can search for meetups around your interests and then sign up to attend. I’ve attended and I’ve spoken at several meetups in New York and New Jersey. The potential for learning is tremendous and the networking can lead to new business opportunities. Another great advantage is the price of education is often cheap or free.
There are so many new ways to learn. If only we had more time in a day. I’m a student at heart and I’ll always be in some type of classroom, whether that means a physical or virtual classroom. Are you constantly seeking new ways to learn and where are you finding education today?