Lifelong Learners, Rejoice!
What a great time in the age of technology to be a lifelong learner (and a semi-retired one at that!). Nowadays, anyone with a computer or mobile device can learn from top educators at little to no cost.
The Great Courses
I had my first experience with online learning 10 years ago when, following a burst of inspiration, I purchased DVD courses in history, mathematics, writing, and music from the Great Courses. The company, founded in 1990, brings in top college professors to help design courses for people of any age seeking to expand their intellectual horizons. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the fact that DVDs require some effort to set up, I only listened to about 20 percent of the lectures.
Learning with Udemy
Fast forward to 2014. While working on my book, The Meditating Entrepreneurs, I quickly learned that in today’s publishing world, writing the book is only the first step. Whether you selfpublish or find a publisher, you must be able to create a platform to market yourself. I realized that I’d need a strong website. In the past, I’d always had others create and maintain my companies' websites, but now that I had the time and inclination, I decided I would create the book’s website myself.
I turned to Udemy, whose mission is to “help anyone learn anything online.” The service consists of a number of 2- to 10-minute online and mobile lessons, ideal for today’s stop-and-start world. Udemy is more democratic than the Great Courses, too, letting anyone teach and giving instructors free online teaching tools, access to its online community, a support team, and generous compensation. Udemy encourages customer comments and ratings, which help potential students select courses.
I started with an excellent free course from WP Academy called “WordPress Essentials for Business,” a 90-minute program designed for small-business owners who want to create a website. Since that initial Udemy course, I have taken more advanced WordPress classes, as well as courses on writing, Kindle publishing, public speaking, web programming, and social media marketing.
A New Era for The Great Courses
I’ve continued to receive the Great Courses catalogs, which I still love looking through. Recently, I noticed that they had finally gone digital—even boasting an iOS app!—and their DVD purchases now include a streaming version. I contacted the Great Courses, and to my pleasant surprise, they gave me access to the streaming versions of the courses I had bought all those years ago.
I started listening to a wonderful course called “Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft,” and learned that the wellknown “omit needless words” rule is not the writer’s be-all and end-all. In fact, longer, richer, and more textured sentences can be especially effective—even considered by some to be Hemingwayesque.
Udemy offers courses for lifelong learners in a wide range of prices and subjects.
The Great Courses now offers digital course access through its iOS app or by streaming online.