Learning Your Way, On Your Time

“With the growing popularity in e-learning, it occurred to me that the ‘e’ should mean more than electronic. If we are going to call it e-learning, shouldn’t it be effective, efficient, and engaging?–  M David Merrill, “First Principles of Instruction”

The internet has completely opened up the world of learning. The worldwide web has taken the library out of the building and put it as close to your fingertips as your keyboard or computer mouse. The advantages of online learning have been touted for schools and universities. But what about the incredible opportunities to allow you to learn something that can literally change your career, and even your trajectory in life? From exploring a fun hobby to earning a valuable certification to even embarking upon a new career, the internet has opened the burgeoning opportunity to learn your way, on your time.

 The Appeal

Once most adults get into the throes of life, time becomes a more valuable commodity than ever before. Between working a minimum of 40 hours per week, children, household obligations, and attempts to have a social life, adding another item to the to-do list can seem impossible. But no matter how busy we are, let’s face it, we can all make time for something important to us. The key is creating the space in your schedule at a time that works for you. And that’s the beauty of being able to learn online. So, what exactly can you learn your way, on your time?

 Getting Certified

According to careeronestop.org, “a certification is a credential that you earn to show that you have specific skills or knowledge.” Most certifications are linked to a particular industry, occupation, or even technology. The beauty of having a certification is that you are viewed as somewhat of an expert in that subject. Becoming certified can be your passport to many options.

Want to develop a niche business in your industry? Get certified. Interested in creating an additional stream of income without sacrificing your job? Explore an online certification. Maybe graphic design or medical coding are fields you’d like to explore. You may love to motivate others and want to become a life coach. Online certifications abound for each of those arenas. Websites filled with e-learning opportunities include Udemy.com, Edx.org, and Coursera.org. You can also explore online platforms for the industry you want to be certified in.

 Obtain a License

Although “license” and “certification” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Licensure is required by law for many professions. A real estate agent can’t sell a room in a house without a license. It’s not legal to sell life insurance or mutual funds without garnering the proper credentials – a license. Teachers, cosmetologists, counselors, and therapists need to be licensed to practice in some states. Whether you are already practicing in one of these careers, or want to make an occupational change, the internet is an informational treasure trove. Companies from Kaplan Financial to Primerica to Keller Williams offer information online for licensing options.

 Master Classes

A quick Google search will reveal master classes in numerous arenas. Courses taught via video in everything from cooking, chess, tennis, filmmaking, writing, and even conservation are available. The beauty of this format is you know you are learning from a renowned expert in their field.

So, what can taking a master class do for you? While it may not give you a piece of paper that declares you have gained knowledge, it can push you to another level in your respective field. Imagine learning secrets of television writing from Shonda Rimes, directing from Ron Howard, or cooking from Gordon Ramsay. Oprah Winfrey has famously made master class videos accessible from experts in their fields. Masterclass.com also offers a vast array of learning options.

 Earning that Degree

One of the most popular uses of online learning is taking classes in higher education. Schools recognize the importance of accessibility of information – and are offering it in record numbers. A report released last year by The Babson Survey Research Group notes that online enrollment in universities increased by almost 20 percent between 2012 and 2016. Those numbers account for people attending college for the first time, as well as those taking courses for career advancement or promotion.

With the spike in interest comes the spike in options. Community colleges and Ivy League schools promote online learning options. Keep in mind that while you can still do homework and projects on your own time, many classes will have specific deadlines that must be met. There may also be online sessions that are necessary for you to attend.

Learning online has created a proliferation of options like never before. Curriculums are engaging. You can schedule times that are convenient for you, which makes it efficient. And if you can learn at your own pace in a way that makes sense for you, it is effective. The worldwide web truly opens your possibilities … to reach the world, in a way that works for you.