Are You an Autodidact?

“Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn. “- Herbert Gerjuoy, quoted by Alex Toffler.

In a quote often attributed to Alex Toffler the illiterate of the future is described as “someone who can’t learn, unlearn and relearn.” The speed of development and ubiquitous nature of technology has turned many things upside down, not the least of which is education. This speed demands a kind of learning that is continual. No longer will completing a degree or a class be enough to keep up. It becomes an iterative process that demands continual revisiting of the material. The material of today may well evolve into completely different material tomorrow.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” – John Dewey[/cryout-pullquote]

Luckily the means to do this is evolving as rapidly as the information. It is a learning-on-demand world. We have video courses, on-line courses, MOOCs and specific organizations like Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera. EdX, Open University, Lynda.com and many other groups and platforms that deliver the rapidly evolving information in many different formats addressing many different learning styles and preferences. Often classes through these vendors can be taken without cost. Some even provide certificates of completion or, for a relatively small fee, even college credit.

At Wheelock we offer access to Lynda.com a site that offers thousands of video courses on a multitude of topics, many relating to technology, the fastest changing field of all.

It is possible to construct an entire college-like program by stringing together related courses. In some fields, particularly technology-related fields, there are still options of getting a well-paying job by self-educating, especially in areas where little formal training exists as yet. In a world where 8 year old children are teaching themselves how to develojan7p viable apps it’s a wide open field.

Two commercial companies that are good are Coursera and Udemy. Coursera’s courses are usually free and held through major universities. Udemy charges for their courses. If you get on their mailing list they run frequent ‘sales’ which make signing up a good deal. One of their advantages is that you own the self-paced courses for life and can take and retake at any time. Registering is often as simple as name, email and a password. A site called Open Culture (http://www.openculture.com) currently lists over 950 free courses with another collection of paid courses it’s enough to keep anyone well educated well into the future.

Where do you start? You can start with Lynda.com. Go to the site, choose Login through your organization or school, choose Wheelock as your school and put in your email and email password. Happy learning!

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