I have always taken offence with formal academia. A (large) part of me resents learning at other students’ pace, especially when I read so much faster, and I have always held the “dentist with bad teeth” (do as I say, not as I do) bias against teachers.
Being an independent learner with oodles of curiosity was fine when I was younger – plenty of time to dabble in whatever catches my fancy on any given day, but now that I have significantly more responsibilities which have monetized my time (as well as a lovely wife), I do find myself shrugging off potential for learning, which is a damn shame. I have always held the belief that life is about progression.
In an attempt to correct this sorry state of affairs, I went on a wild spending spree and signed up to a bunch of online courses. Not simply classes at online academies like Coursera or EDX, but full blown certificate courses like AWS Triple Threat Certification (Amazon web services [AWS] administration and development), and finance courses from AcademyFT, amongst many others.
I shied away from the free stuff because they are usually not courses, but rather classes (2-3 hrs), and the lack of a financial deposit means it’s too easy for me to walk away.
I was pretty doubtful that I would enjoy the courses I signed up to, and admittedly, I am currently only doing the Academy FT one as it’s time based/live webinar format, which is increased pressure to attend and perform. However, I am (thus so far) enjoying it tremendously.
It’s not about gaining a financial edge or certification (although I do get both of those), but branching out and learning new things just because I can, and having the incentive to do so.
I hope that the Academy FT certification course wasn’t a one hit wonder and that the vast majority of the other courses I bought are as fun as this one. Naturally, I will update the blog once I’m done the courses with my thoughts on the matter.
If you are on the sidelines because you think you are too busy for one of these, or because you are already successful in your field, don’t shrug it off. It doesn’t take up that much of your time and it will give you another way of looking at the world – or, at the very least, help you gain an understanding of a subject without the time commitment formal academia (unreasonably) necessitates.
Not everything in life has to be practical. I signed up to an Android game development course: I have no interest in developing games, but I like the idea of learning how they are assembled and coded – and that is a good enough reason for me.