We live in a day and age where there is abundance of information or what we call as information overload. No matter which field you work in, there are some updates every minute. Now we need to ask ourselves a question, can we, in such a dynamic ecosystem stop to learn? Many of us rely on our experience and 'tried & tested' methods to get something done. A majority are not even aware that there could be ways, tools or technology available that can get the same work done in half the time!
Hence, I strongly advocate that we need to treat our ability to learn as a core skill.
As you read this, I can almost hear many of us complaining: I don't have enough time, there is just too much information to process and the list is never ending! So here are my two cents to boosting your learning:
- Manage the Chaos: Once your start exploring the web, you will soon realize there is too much information to process. Excellent websites, blogs, articles, videos that you'd like to know about. This is where an RSS application comes in. A good example is Feedly - it acts as an aggregator of sites that you can subscribe to. This RSS reader helps to bring down the time it will take you go through the. PS: Feedly is free and accessible within the corporate firewall.
- Leverage your commute: Most of us spend an average of 2 hours each day getting to our place of work. Some of us drive while others take a bus. For both the cases you can listen to podcasts which are basically audio magazines. There are some amazing podcasts out there that cater to a wide variety of choices from project management to learning English. Also a smartphone can often be a great source for learning. From social sites like Twitter where you can subscribe to the movers and shakers in your domain or using the free apps for doing many of the things mentioned above. Plus with the ever dropping costs of 3G, we can now easily browse videos on Youtube, TED etc.
- Explore MOOCs: MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses is a concept that has been around for quite some time. These are eLearning programs that are mostly free and conducted by some renowned universities (Stanford, MIT to name a few). You get the opportunity to experience an entire course university-style from industry experts, eminent professors on a host of different topics. Also, like I mentioned earlier they are free! Just think of thousands of dollars that you would have spent if you went to those universities.
- Invest in learning: While MOOCs are great, they quite often criticized for being more academic than industry driven. If on the job type learning is what you're looking for then there are some excellent sites out there such as Lynda.com or Coursera.com which are effectively like the modern day equivalent of the library of Alexandria. Some of the best talent in the world is contracted for making some amazing learning courses.
We need to start leveraging the amazing learning environment that has been evolving around us. As Henry Ford once said, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." And I reckon in the modern day workplace we cannot afford to be old!