Life­long Learn­ers, Re­joice!

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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.

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