Lifelong Learning Online

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Online LearningIf you have the kind of mentality that says that learning ends after graduating a certain academic level, then you are missing the point. Lifelong learning is the activity that allows us to find our better selves. It empowers us with the knowledge we need to thrive.

There are many forms of learning and many formats for delivery of knowledge. Students in classrooms all over the world are involved in formalised learning. Some are doing it full-time whilst others are doing it part-time in physical classroom as well as the virtual classroom.

The World Wide Web is a tremendous medium and platform for learning. I believe that learning should be perpetual and lifelong. The world Wide Web affords any individual with access the opportunity for lifelong learning and has many advantages over traditional modes of learning. 

The Knowledge Economy

In a global context, we now live in what has been termed the knowledge economy. An economy whose growth depends on the quantity, quality, as well as accessibility of information rather than the means of production. In such an economy, knowledge is valued over raw resources and that knowledge is applied to make society more productive. This is an economy in which intellectual capital is highly prized. 

Even though we live in a knowledge economy on the global scale, most of our national and regional economies are operating as either as agricultural , manufacturing or service based economies on levels corresponding with standards of development. In reality, no specific level distinctly exists as actual economies are a hybrid of these three types. 

In order for our societies to prosper, we should strive to move into the higher levels of development until most of our economic activity is based on the knowledge economy. One of the best ways to do this is to promote lifelong learning for every individual in society.

The prosperity of any economy is the sum of the parts made up by the prosperity of each of its individual members. As a member of your economy you should therefore strive to become an actor in the knowledge economy space. Learning online is the fastest and most effective way to do this.

Beyond The Classroom

You must think beyond the traditional classroom. It is important to think beyond a certificate, diploma or a degree. To think beyond a physical classroom or enrollment into an actual class. Often we think that learning happens only when your name appears on a class register somewhere and that you have to be part of a class.

On the contrary, online learning takes many forms. For those who do not like to read, there are multimedia, mostly video, that you can immerse yourself in. There are literally thousands of videos online to help you learn anything on any subject imaginable. Youtube for example has got a lot of video content on a wide range of subjects.

All that is needed to start learning online is a shift in mindset. You have to consciously decide that you would like to immerse yourself in online learning and once you make the decision, commit to it. The reason why I am bringing up commitment is that most people are online for entertainment only and not learning. There is nothing wrong with entertainment but everything should be done in moderation.

Knowledge Available in Abundance and Everywhere

The World Wide Wide is the biggest repository of knowledge known to man. Volumes and volumes of information are available to anyone on demand. What is even more remarkable is that your location does not matter. You can be anywhere on the planet and request the information you need and you will get it within a fraction of a second, subject to connection speeds of course.

Because there is so much information out there, finding the right kind of information is a skill that is necessary for our times. In the knowledge economy, it is not the information itself that is valuable, in most cases everyone has access to the same information, but the ability of the information user to find and synthesise information.

The information is generally available to anyone with an Internet connection. It is your ability to find relevant information and use it in ways that yield results that is going to distinguish your level of success. For example, your ability to make a profit from data gathered online will determine your level of success.

At A Fraction Of The Cost

Cost factors into almost all the decisions we make in life and it is no different with lifelong learning online. The cost of access to learning online is significantly smaller compared to traditional modes of learning.

If you are to go and enrol in an academic programme with a teacher or lecturer in front of you, the costs are astronomically large compared to learning online. This has to do with two things. Learning online does not require massive resources including a teacher and the classroom. Furthermore, if the lessons are paid for, the costs are spread over many students in an online environment compared to the traditional classroom.

Dynamic By Nature, Learn To Self-Teach

Learning online is never static. The electronic learning  medium is so flexible and continuously changing whilst allowing for adaptation and expansion. New content is always being created and the knowledge tree ever growing. The new builds upon the old and the old can be made better. This cycle fuels the drive for lifelong learning because you can never run out of new and exciting stuff to learn whilst bettering your life in the process.

Being successful at any level in the knowledge economy requires the ability to find and synthesise information. If you are to take advantage of lifelong online learning, you have to be able to chart your own path and progress without someone nudging you along. It takes a high level of discipline to follow through on self-education. My advice is to pick a subject you are passionate about and run with it and before you know it, as you tackle one topic, it naturally leads to another.

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